Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay is a culmination of over 20 years of planning and effort. The idea was first mooted in 1989 when the Advisory Council on Culture and the Arts recommended that an arts centre be built for Singapore. It made headway in 1992 when the Singapore Arts Centre Co (now named The Esplanade Co Ltd) was established to spearhead the arts centre project. The architectural design of the centre was unveiled in July 1994 by then Minister for Information and the Arts George Yeo during which its official name, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, was also announced.
Following the groundbreaking ceremony on 11 August 1996, construction of the centre began and took about six years before it was officially opened by then President S R Nathan on 12 October 2002. The highlight of the opening celebrations was a 23-day festival that featured 1,300 artists from 22 countries and attracted more than one million visitors to its over 600 performances.
The construction cost of the S$600-million arts centre was borne by Singapore Pools and the Singapore Totalisator Board. It boasts four performance venues – a 2,000-seat theatre, a 1,600-seat concert hall, a 200-seat theatre studio and a 250-seat recital studio – on top of other amenities such as retail shops, restaurants and a performing arts library – the library@esplanade. The building is popularly referred to as “The Durian” due to the triangular, aluminum sunshade cladding on the two domes, which vaguely resemble durians husks.
Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2012, has become a premier performance venue for both local and international renown performing artistes and groups alike. It is truly one of Singapore’s greatest icons.
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2. Esplanade. (2008). Milestones. Retrieved July 24, 2014, from Esplanade Theatres on the Bay website: http://www.esplanade.com.sg/about_the_centre/milestones/index.jsp
3. Tan. H. Y. (1994, July 22). Design for world-class arts centre unveiled. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Tsang, S. (1996, August 12). 20-year arts dream turns into reality. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Tan, S. E. (2002, October 13). It’s showtime at the Esplanade. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
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7. Tee, H. C. (2002, September 17). Esplanade’s the place on the Bay. The Straits Times, p. 3; Siti Andrianie. (2000, May 11). World-class arts centre to cost $81.5m more. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Ong, S. F. (2002, November 5). The thorny issue: What now? The Straits Times, p. 4; Ong S. F. (2002, January 12). Treasure trove of arts resources. The Straits Times, p. 3; Esplanade Theatres on the Bay. (2007, June 16). The Straits Times, p. 105. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Arnold, W. (2002, December 3). Singapore offers an architectural symbol for the arts. The New York Times. Retrieved July 29, 2014, from: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/03/arts/design/03ARTS.html
10. Helmi Yusof. (2013, July 26). Esplanade marks 10 years of triumph. The Business Times; Mahasarinand, P. (2012, October 11). 'The Durian' turns 10: Arts festival this weekend is all-Singaporean. The Nation. Retrieved from Factiva.
The information in this article is valid as at 2011 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.