Sunday, November 23, 2008

Festivals and Events Management Field Trip Individual Report

Festivals and Events Management (BLR3001)
AY 2008/09 October Semester


1. Introduction

1.1. Objective
The purpose of this report is to identify how the various components of the event marketing mix had been deployed in the ‘Singapore Biennale 2008: Wonder’ (SB2008) and evaluate the effectiveness of these components in contributing towards the success of the event.

This report will also consider the tourism role of ‘Singapore Biennale 2008: Wonder’ to Singapore and its value to our nation’s economy.

1.2. Background
This year’s event will commence on 11 September through to 16 November 2008.
With both indoor and outdoor exhibitions at Singapore’s iconic landmarks, such as City Hall, Singapore Flyer, etc, SB2008 is largest and most provocative showcase of contemporary art by renowned visual artists from around the globe.

Having enhanced Singapore prominently as an international centre and regional thought-leader in the fields of contemporary visual arts following the hugely successful inaugural event in 2006, SB2008 follows up to challenge one to wonder anew at the world that we live in. It aims to surprise, awe and challenge one’s perspective and ponder the profound (

1.3. Method of Investigation
A trip down to City Hall to have a look at the exhibits was made. There, pictures and notes were taken, and any lingering doubts were clarified with the working personnel. Research was also carried out through sources like the Internet.

1.4. Scope
The report will focus on the deployment of the 8Ps of event marketing mix – Product, Place, Partnerships, Promotion (Communication), Programming, People, Packaging & Distribution and Price – in SB2008, and their contribution towards the success of the event.

2. Evaluation of the Effective Use of Marketing Mix

2.1. Product

2.1.1. Core Service

This year’s event gathers together artworks from over 50 renowned international and local artists, who hail from various artistic disciplinary backgrounds, providing a visual feast for all participants.

2.1.2. Tangible product
The Short Guide is a guidebook that contains all the relevant information of SB2008. It contains some quick facts of this year’s event, the profile of the artists, pictures of all the artworks that are on display, and details and explanations of each of the exhibitions.

Short Guide

2.1.3. Augmented product
What differentiate this event from others is that complimentary guided tours in different language (English, Mandarin and Japanese) by personnel are made available. In addition, as SB2008 intends to attract people from all walks of life and all age groups, guided tours in different dialects (Cantonese and Hokkien) will also be available. With these guided tours, participants will be able to clarify all their doubts with the guide, enabling them to better understand the various artworks on display.

All three aspects of Product marketing mix are fulfilled. Both the Short Guide and the guided tours complement the exhibits. The Short Guide allows visitors to do some reading up prior to viewing the exhibits while the guide tours in different languages provided an outlet for visitors to clear any remaining doubts in them after viewing the exhibitions.

2.2. Place
Compared to the SB2006, where exhibits are scattered throughout 19 venues, this year’s event had exhibits spread around only in three main locations. The three venues, namely, the historically rich City Hall, Marina Bay and South Beach Development, are all within the city centre. Also within walking distances are Raffles City Shopping Centre and Esplanade Bridge, where exhibits can be found in the outdoors and providing a unique feeling of enjoying arts in the open space.

Having all the exhibitions clustered together in the city centre helped the visitors in saving time travelling around. Moreover, all the selected locations are found within the city centre, where intensive transportation network are available, making them easily accessible to visitors.

City Hall

2.3. Partnerships
Partnerships are crucial for such a large event like SB2008. Partnerships with government agencies are especially important in gaining a competitive edge over competing events.

However, SB2008’s partnerships with the management of Singapore Flyer and Raffles City Shopping Centre are also significant as they enabled SB2008 to host some artworks within the premises of these attractions. Through this partnership, SB2008 was able to package the arts event together with a ride on the Singapore Flyer and offer it to the public at a discounted rate.

These few partnerships had also benefited the participating public as they get to enjoy the accessibility of the various venues as well as a low entrance fee.

2.4. Promotion (Communication)
The website ‘Singapore Biennale 2008’ ( was set up prior to its commencement, to provide a link between the public and this arts event. Through this website, the public can get to know plenty of information, such as the locations, the opening hours, featured artists, etc, about this upcoming event.

The duration of SB2008 coincided with the closing of the Formula One SingTel Singapore Grand Prix. Large numbers of media members from overseas were in town to provide coverage for the motor racing event. As the motor racing event draws to a close, and a major arts festival (SB2008) already in full swing, the temptation proved too much to resist for many of them. This was a big step in promoting this arts event as people from many other countries outside Singapore also came to know about SB2008 through their local news media coverage.

2.5. Programming
The objective of SB2008 is not a revenue-oriented one, instead focusing on bringing contemporary arts to as many people as possible. Thus, in order to reach out to the mass market, the ticket price is set at an affordable level of $10, allowing as many people as possible to be part of this event.

There is also continuity in the programming of SB2008. By appointing Mr. Fumio Nanjo as the artistic director of SB2008, a role he held in the hugely successful inaugural Singapore Biennale (2006), the organisers are recognising his achievements. In addition, SB2008 is curated by a team of young curators, and it is aiming to upstage the success of the previous event in 2006.

2.6. People
The staffs of this event are hired on a voluntarily basis. By volunteering their services, the staffs showed that they have the passion to be part of SB2008.

Staffs at ticketing booth were warm and friendly, leaving a positive first impression the customers have of this whole arts festival. Tour guides were also clear of their roles. They were well prepared for any questions that were thrown at them, responding with clear and concise answers, clearing any lingering doubts the clients might have.

By getting the right personnel and providing appropriate training for them, interactions between them and the visiting public were made easy yet efficient. The visitors had no reservation what approaching the personnel and the staffs were able to respond them accurately.

2.7. Packaging and Distribution
For a price of $10 for a single entry pass, the client is given a Short Guide, and is also allowed entry to City Hall and South Beach Development to view the exhibitions. Also, by topping up another $21, the customer gets a ride on the Singapore Flyer to enjoy the panoramic view of the city centre.

Organisers also made full use of the attraction within the vicinity. This can be seen with the liaising with the Singapore Flyer, and packaging the art festival together with the local attraction.
An adult ticket for a basic flight on Singapore Flyer costs S$29.50. However, by paying an addition S$1.50, one can get to enjoy a flight on Singapore Flyer as well as view the interesting exhibits of SB2008 at City Hall and South Beach Development. It is value-for-money for locals and tourists alike, and enable to keep tourists occupied for the length of their stay in Singapore.

2.8. Price
The price for single entry pass marked at $10, with a complimentary Short Guide (available for sales at $6 each), is an affordable price for the mass public. This pass allows participants to enter and view the exhibitions in both City Hall and South Beach Development. In addition, except for the Singapore Flyer, all other venues do not charge entrance fees.

With further promotions also available, such as 50% for full-time students and senior citizens, and many other promotions, SB2008 was able to attract people of all ages to the event exhibition.

3. Tourism roles and economic value of the festival / event

SB2008 had brought great economic value to the society.

As reported in the article ‘Singapore Biennale exceeds visitor targets’ by 938LIVE, SB2008 attracted ‘a record 505,200 visitors, exceeding its original target of half a million’.

Singapore Biennale is the brainchild of the National Arts Council, who hopes to use this platform to position Singapore prominently as an international arts centre and regional leader in the field of visual arts.

The creation of the first ever Kids’ Biennale in this year’s event is a breakthrough. With the commitment of building new arts audiences and broadening arts participation, Singapore Biennale engaged primary school kids in a series of special activities so that they could relate what they had learnt to the best of international contemporary art.

The senior citizens were also not left out. The debut of guided tours conducted in dialect, such as Cantonese and Hokkien, had enabled them to be part of the event. As all on-site explanations are only available in English, those guided tours provided an alternative avenue for them to better understand the different artworks on display.

With many overseas journalists who were earlier in town for the Formula 1 Grand Prix had also visited and reported on the Biennale in their media overseas, SB2008 enjoyed good media coverage, both locally and in the international media.

With the international media coverage of SB2008, foreigners from many other countries had come to know of Singapore as an emerging leading arts centre in this region. The successes of both the SB2006 and SB2008 displayed that Singapore have got the ability and resources to host mega arts events. Also, the willingness to breed arts in the young minds of primary school children will be advantageous to Singapore in the long run.

With this new-found knowledge, organisers would have no worries in setting up or allowing their shows to be set up in Singapore. With mega events in town, tourists, especially art lovers, will have the added incentive to make Singapore their preferred destination.

Being Singapore’s largest international contemporary visual arts event, SB2008 provided an important platform to present contemporary artwork to the international art world.

4. Conclusion
In conclusion, I felt that SB2008 had used the marketing mix effectively and contributed to the success of this year’s event.

First of all, and also the most important motivator, it was the low price ($10 for a single entry pass) that attracted me want to attend SB2008. As a person who had never attended an arts event prior to SB2008, it was this low price for such a premier event that convinced me that I should attend it. Thus, the SB2008’s pricing strategy had helped attracted many other first-timer to be part of the event.

Secondly, upon attending SB2008, I also observed that the personnel are friendly and passionate about their job, taking their time to explain the every single detail to the visitors. This is an important attribute to possess, and help put Singapore on track to become a leading arts centre in the region.

All in all, SB2008 had made used of the 8Ps of marketing mix to its advantage. From the easily accessible locations, to the personnel, they all work in tandem to make this event a success. With record visitors to the event, exceeding the original target, SB2008 had proved to be a success in all ways.

5. Appendices

Singapore Biennale exceeds visitor targets
By 938LIVE Posted: 19 November 2008 1851 hrs

SINGAPORE: A record 505,200 visitors flocked to the 2008 Singapore Biennale, exceeding its original target of half a million. The event from September 11-November 16 was billed as Singapore's largest international showcase of contemporary art. Audience engagement was of priority this year. Pasting stickers on a gigantic Google Earth map of Singapore, stepping over maggots, or smelling soap in the air - these were just some of the interactive art works on display at this year's event. A first-ever Kid's Biennale was created this year, which saw some 500 pieces of student art works displayed in the Kid's Zone at City Hall. Also a first this year were Cantonese and Hokkien guided tours for group visits, organized by Community Development Councils (CDCs), community clubs and grassroots organizations. The annual Singapore Biennale is the brainchild of the National Arts Council. The council hopes to use this platform to position Singapore prominently as an international arts centre and regional leader in the field of visual arts.

Past Biennale
The inaugural Singapore Biennale was held in 2006, and prominently enhanced Singapore as an international centre and regional thought-leader in the fields of contemporary visual arts. Organised by the National Arts Council (Singapore), the 72-day exhibition attracted more than 883,000 visitors from Singapore and travellers from all over the world. With 95 artists and artist collectives from 38 countries and regions, the diverse selection of artworks presented the best of both Asia and international art practices from Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa.
The 2006 Biennale provided an effective platform for people to dialogue and share information and resources amongst the arts community from Singapore and the rest of the world. With the theme Belief, new platforms connecting different people were created, as audiences communicated and debated about art and life. The inclusion of a range of religious sites, historic buildings and other interesting locations as exhibition venues showed how Singapore celebrated harmony, unity and mutual respect among multiple ethnic groups.
While the success of the Biennale opened Singapore to the world, the exhibition generated significant positive feedback from the international media and art critics. Besides attaining 103,000,000 audience reach with more than 1,000 articles generated world-wide, the cumulative media value for print came up to be approximately $19,300,000, while the website generated over 1 million page views and unique visitors respectively. The overall tonality of media coverage was also highly favourable with strong, positive and fresh opinions formed and expressed.
Singapore Biennale 2008 will not be just another event for the art world, but one that engages all sectors of the society and people across different sectors as it continues to break new grounds for creative expression.

Singapore Biennale 2008 (SB2008)

"Through contemporary art, Wonder calls on us to question and be curious; to reach beyond the surface, surpassing the apparent and to allow ourselves to be surprised, awed, tantalized and challenged. All of which is an aperture to the World".
The Singapore Biennale is back.

Stretching from 11 September to 16 November 2008, this is the second edition of the country’s biannual exhibition featuring international contemporary art. Organised by the National Arts Council, it hopes to inject the Singaporean masses’ daily lives with a heady shot of the visual arts. This year’s budget may be smaller (S$6 million instead of S$8 million), and there are fewer venues used (only three instead of the previous 19), but the result should be a much more focused show.

Still helmed by director Fumio Nanjo, his curatorial team of two have brought together over 60 artists from 36 countries for the biennale, which focuses on the theme of Wonder. The artworks are meant to generate surprise, and engage viewers to think about what awes them or what doesn’t, and why, considering the desensitized world we live in today.

SB2008 occurs at an opportune time, when all the world’s eyes are on the nation for its inaugural Formula One Grand Prix night race (20 September – 5 October 2008). The first biennale in 2006 had also similarly coincided with another event of global attention: the IMF-World Bank meetings.

Vacant areas in the city are the choice sites for showing art. The City Hall building and South Beach (a cluster of Art Deco blocks on Beach Road) have been turned into venues. An empty land plot at Marina Bay called the Central Promontory has also been utilised: it features architect Shigeru Ban’s Containart Pavilion. Made up of shipping containers and paper tubes, the temporary structure houses three of the biennale’s largest indoor artworks.

There are also some new features for SB2008 - a more educational element with a Kids Biennale involving 25 schools, and a commercial component, the Showcase Singapore art fair where galleries will show and sell their works at City Hall. However, this inaugural fair has caused some rumblings among artists and gallery owners, who are concerned that Showcase Singapore might cannibalise the yearly ARTSingapore, a similar but separate event running concurrently. SB2008 is supposed to be a “celebration of artistic excellence” and the merits of a commercial addition are debatable. Meanwhile, early critics question the curators’ choices, wondering how some of the artists’ use of ubiquitous materials - such as slippers and soap – to create Wonder, constitute as art.

Nonetheless, the biennale is all set to become another national event that will get the world’s media talking about little red dot Singapore. 300 foreign journalists, critics and curators covered the first show in 2006 and 883,300 people attended. It remains to be seen how the second one fares.

Attendance at Singapore Biennale 2008 encouraging: Dr Lee

Minister for Information, Communication and the Arts, Dr Lee Boon Yang, says the Singapore Biennale 2008, has attracted 20 thousand visitors to its three main exhibition venues as at end September.
This, he says, is an encouraging sign.
The figure is comparable to that of Biennale 2006 for the same duration, although the last Biennale had more exhibits and exhibition venues.
Dr Lee says the event is also enjoying good media coverage, both locally and in the international media.
Many overseas journalists who were earlier in town for the Formula 1 Grand Prix had also visited and reported on the Biennale in their media overseas.
He says his Ministry will provide a more comprehensive update on the current Biennale at the end of its run.
Dr Lee was responding to a question from MP for Marine Parade GRC Dr Fatimah Lateef.
She wanted an update on the performance of this year’s Biennale.

Proof of visit

References Available: Last accessed 19 December 2008.

Festival and Special Event Management” (3rd Ed.), Chapter 7: “Strategic Marketing of Events

Guide from Singapore Biennale 2008.

Newspedia. Available: Last accessed 19 December 2008.

Singapore Biennale 2006. Available: Last accessed 23 December 2008.

Singapore Biennale 2008. Available: Last accessed 24 December 2008.