Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The event I have chosen to observe is the Singapore Biennale 2008. The objective of this report is to keep an online portfolio of my observations while at the event. My methodology of research is by personally attending the event and taking notes and photographs while I did my observations. The Singapore Biennale 2008 is Singapore’s largest contemporary visual arts exhibition and its aim is to position Singapore prominently as an international hub and regional thought leader in the world of visual arts. This event encourages local artists to engage with the international art world through the medium of contemporary art. The Singapore Biennale also acts as a platform for collaborations with the global arts community and creates opportunities to cultivate deeper engagement with the arts. The theme this year is Wonder and it seeks to investigate the articulation and creation of marvels, riddles and illusions in our world today. Wonder becomes an education in humanity as it opens stimulating avenues of discussion, dialogue and healthy critiques on issues relevant to mankind. We are then prompted to look at the things around us, with fresh eyes and a new perspective. We then begin to ponder about our past, our present and even our future, with a renewed sense of innocence like a child. Many exhibits have been displayed at various locations such as Marina Bay, South Beach Development and City Hall. The venues that I visited were the Central Promontory Site at Raffles Place and City Hall at St. Andrew’s Road.
The product of any event is the most important. Every single event has a product to sell whether it is tangible (e.g. goods) or intangible (e.g. services, knowledge). Thus, it is important to note what the needs and wants of the potential customer and also, what they would pay for.
For this Biennale event, the product is the art exhibits and also, the artistic experience. The visitors who attended the event are seeking to admire the exhibitions and to appreciate art. As the visitors have been intrigued by the various promotion efforts of the organising committee of the Biennale, they have then made a decision to purchase the product. In this scenario, the product has been successful as people were willing to pay the price in order to enjoy the product.
In my opinion, I feel that the product is worth the money paid. Not only did I get to admire many pieces of art exhibits, I gained knowledge and insight about art. Throughout the duration of my visit to the City Hall, I was not only mesmerised by the display of art but also, am impressed by the infrastructure of the City Hall which had a rich history behind it.
The physical place and how it is created through the design and programming plays a critical role in the success of an event.
Place does not merely refer to the physical location of the event only. It also takes into consideration the setting, atmosphere and destination features. The various major locations of the Biennale are at the City Hall, Marina Bay, South Beach Development and Raffles City Shopping Centre.
In my opinion, this component has fared well. The Central Promontory Site which I visited provided a great atmosphere. It was a structure built specially for the Biennale event and large containers which were usually used for shipping were used for the site. As the structure itself is a piece of art, this helps build up the artistic setting in which the exhibits are displayed. Also, visitors are able to experience an exhibition that is unlike the usual which is set in a gallery or a convention centre.
The other site which I visited was the City Hall. This location is vastly different from the Central Promontory Site. This is a place which contains the rich historical background of Singapore. The infrastructure of the City Hall is itself a work of art. Hence, as I walked through the building, I am not only greatly amazed by the various works of art but am also impressed with the grand architecture of the entire place.
In an event, the most common partners will be the governmental agencies. In the case of the Biennale, the governmental agencies who are rendered their support are the Land Transport Authority, Preservation of Monuments Board and the Singapore Land Authority. However, there were also non-governmental agencies which the Biennale collaborated. These were the multinational companies who whether directly or indirectly supported this event. What was unique about the various partnerships was that there were even educational institutions who were involved. These institutions were reeled in to support the cause of education throughout the event.
When packages are jointly marketed, event managers might have to modify their price and even their products to make the packages more attractive. For example, the Official Community Partner of the Biennale is the Passion Card. As such, the promotions package includes various discounts for the purchase of ticket when the Passion Card is presented.
In addition, the various venue partners are Raffles City Shopping Centre and the Singapore Flyer. As a result of these partnerships, the Biennale exhibitions are able to be displayed at these various locations. Especially at the Singapore Flyer, visitors who purchased a ticket are given various discounts at certain F&B outlets at the Flyer and are able to be on board the Flyer with a top-up of $21. On one hand, the Biennale pieces are able to be displayed at a unique location (on board the Flyer) and on the other hand, it will also encourage visitors to visit the Singapore Flyer attraction.
I feel that this event has done well with its partnerships with various companies. There was a good mix of partners ranging from governmental agencies like the Urban Redevelopment Authority to multinational companies like Bloomberg to educational institutions like Republic Polytechnic. Adding on, this event was able to garner the support of leading companies in the various fields of tourism. Overall, I felt that in terms of the sponsorship and partnership, the Biennale was able to have the help it needed.
Promotion refers to the full range of the communication mix which includes advertising, public relations, sales promotions and creating an event/destination image.
There are basically 4 different sales promotions available for the Biennale, namely the one for one ticket promotion, promotions at Singapore Flyer, Passion Card promotion and McCafe discounts. For this component, I shall elaborate on the one for one ticket promotion.
This promotion requires the visitor to visit the Biennale at the Containart Pavilion location with a family member (refers to child above 3 years of age or students with valid student pass or a parent) and the family member gets to enter the exhibitions free.
The main purpose of sales promotions is to persuade the potential customers/visitors to take actions. In the case of this one for one promotion, it requires a person to purchase an adult ticket first before they are able to enjoy the benefits. Thus, it acts as a trigger for potential customers to purchase their tickets. On the other hand, the visitors are required to visit the Containart Pavilion in order to register for their complimentary tickets. This will help them to attract more visitors to the exhibition at this particular location.
However, I feel that this component could be improved in terms of its advertising and public relations. Not much of advertising has been seen on television or the newspapers and this may probably be the main reason why many locals do not know about the event or have basic knowledge about the background about it. Hence, it was relatively unsuccessful in creating a strong event image in the minds of locals.
Packaging of an event usually involves the combination of events with attractions and services. However, packaging also involves distributions. This includes the distribution methods, networks and intermediaries of various types. Hence, there must be good relationships cultivated between the packaging partners and intermediaries.
Relating it back to the case of Biennale, one of the packaging is the collaboration between Singapore Biennale 2008 and the Singapore Flyer. With the purchase of a Biennale entrance ticket, visitors are able to visit the Singapore Flyer at a cheaper rate. The advantages of this packaging is to promote the Singapore Flyer attraction to overseas visitors and locals who have not had a chance to go up on the Singapore Flyer and also, to provide a unique experience for the Biennale visitors.
I feel that this is a brilliant way of packaging. Not only will the visitors know more about the Flyer and enjoy a ride up on it, they will be able to appreciate the art works in a different environment. Also, when visitors visit places with rich historical background such as the City Hall and South Beach Development, they will be able to understand more about Singapore and our history. This is greatly beneficial to both parties of the collaboration.
The programming of an event gives it its framework and outline. Also, it is the main crux of any event organised. For the Biennale, there were many programmes available namely exhibitions, Kids’ Biennale, Vernissage, educational programme, and parallel events which involve collaborations with art institutions and encounters with various artists.
The Biennale has a wide array of programme available for people of different age groups and different background. As this is an event that seeks to inspire, delight and engage their audience, they fulfilled what they set out to do and involved the entire community with the great variety of programme. From the children to the adults, all are able to enjoy and appreciate art at a different level. I feel that they have done well with the programming as they have made the event such a versatile one that is able to cater to different audiences from young to old.
The people involved in an event are mainly the “cast” and the audience; either that or they could have a relationship of a host and a guest. The interactions between the customer, the setting and staff/volunteers constitute a large part of the event experience. The hospitality received by the visitor directly shapes their experience.
The “cast” involved in the Biennale are the guides who were stationed at the various at the locations who assisted any visitors who were unsure or need help. The hosts could include more than just the guides but also, the organising committee of the entire Biennale event. On the other hand, the audience or guests are the visitors to the Biennale or anyone who received assistance from the helpers of the event.
I feel that this component could have been improved. When I went to the Contain art Pavillon, there were not much interactions going on between the guides and us, as the visitors. Though they were polite towards us, they did not take the initiative to render their help when we seemed lost. However, this may be so because much of the art exhibits have a short description beside it and were very much self-explanatory.
Every event comes with a price tag even including those that are free (e.g. time, travel cost, lost opportunities). Event organisers usually have to set one or more prices for their products such as admission to the event, merchandise, vendor rentals and sponsorship fees.
In this scenario of the Singapore Biennale, an admission fee is required at two locations namely City Hall and South Beach Development. The single entry pass costs $10 but there are several concessions which allow various groups of people to enjoy a 50% discount off the admission fee. They are the full time students with valid student pass, senior citizens aged 60 and above and the children above 3 years old. For me, as a student, I feel that the admission fee is extremely value for money. Not only was I able to be exposed to contemporary art pieces, I was able to be immersed in the artistic experience and environment.
This admission fee allows entry into the 2 locations and it comes with a copy of the exhibition’s Short Guide. This price that visitors pay includes tangible and intangible aspects. The tangible aspects include the copy of the Short Guide and the various art pieces while the intangible aspects include the experience you gain while at the exhibition sites.
The roles of place marketing are to create positive images of a place and to attract residents and investors. Also, it seeks to improve the quality of life of the people in that particular place.
For the Singapore Biennale 2008, the emphasis is placed on the former. This event acts as a platform for Singapore to show the World that it embraces art and wants to be recognised as a city where contemporary art is celebrated. More than just the economic value that it brings to Singapore, the event is able to market Singapore as a modern and versatile city which is capable of hosting such events. Most importantly, the event allows Singapore to be showcased to foreign visitors and to build up our reputation as an arts and cultural hub.
The role of a catalyst is to stimulate infrastructure, assist urban renewal, stimulate business/trade and support other attractions.
For the Biennale, infrastructure was stimulated when the Containart Pavilion was built specially for the purpose of this event. According to the Biennale website, this site is not going to be torn down after the event. Instead, it will be used as a future public attraction which would house retail, food and beverage, recreational, entertainment outlets and possibly convention halls. As it is in a prime location immediately adjacent to the Marina Bay Residences, it will be highly favoured. Thus, this infrastructure would not become obsolete with conclusion of the event.
Another role of the catalyst is to support other attractions and in this case, the Biennale is able to support the Singapore Flyer and even the City Hall. With the exhibits being displayed on board the Flyer, visitors will be able to observe for themselves the breathtaking view while appreciating art around them. Furthermore, the Singapore Flyer, a giant observation wheel which is set to be Asia’s most visible iconic visitor attraction, will be known among the foreign visitors. The Biennale also held one of the many exhibitions at the City Hall. As such, visitors will be able to understand more about the history of Singapore as they explore within the City Hall. As part of the transformation of Singapore’s civic district into a bustling arts and cultural hub, the City Hall will be converted into a world class, state-of-the-art national art gallery by the year 2013.
Lastly, a catalyst stimulates urban renewal and this relates to the exhibition at the South Beach Development. It was initially given conservation status since 2002. However, this place, which was formally used as the headquarters of Singapore’s volunteer defence forces, has now been revitalised. By 2012, it will feature 2 towers of 45 storeys which will house premium offices, two luxury hotels, exquisite retail space and exclusive city residences. This is thus, a great example of how the Biennale has stimulated urban renewal.
As infrastructure and urban renewal is being stimulated, construction for the various building projects will then be required. This in turns helps to stimulate the economy as more jobs are available in order to assist the building projects. Also, with the rise in these infrastructures, more business and companies are able to expand with the increase in office space. Hence, trade and businesses are able to be stimulated.
As an animator, its main purpose is to encourage first and repeat visits at facilities, resorts and attractions.
In the case of the Biennale, it would be a first visit to many of the attractions for many of the foreign tourists who came for purposes of leisure, business and others. This may even be true for locals who may not have visited sites like the South Beach Development. By exposing the Biennale visitors to the popular attractions such as the Singapore Flyer and also, the not so known location like the South Beach Development or the Central Promontory Site, they would allow the visitors to be firstly aware of these places in Singapore. Only when people are aware of these attractions and facilities can they do a repeat visit. Hence, the Biennale which will be held once every 2 years can then encourage visitors to do repeated visits.
When visitors are persuaded that it is worthwhile to repeatedly visit a place, this then brings in economic value for the place as well. Tourism receipts will begin to increase as foreign tourists stay for longer periods and also when locals pay admission fees to enter the various attractions or facilities.