Seniors least involved in the arts

Ballet performance by Dance Dynamic at the inaugural Silver Arts 2012. Presented by the National Arts Council, the programme was developed for seniors by fellow seniors, artists and community organisations.

Seniors and retirees (age 65 and above) have the lowest level of involvement in the arts, according to the “National Population Survey on the Arts” published recently by the National Arts Council (NAC). The survey provides a snapshot of the behavioural patterns of the population in terms of their involvement in, and perception of the arts.

Arts attendance and participation rate for this group was 26 percent and 14 percent respectively, compared with 48 percent and 19 percent for the general population. This also further compared to the youth who had an attendance and participation rate of 61 percent and 28 percent respectively.

The reasons for seniors and retirees not attending arts/cultural events were the relevance of these activities to their lives, familiarity with the artists/performers and not having anyone to go with.

The survey was conducted between October and December 2011 and included a total of 2,038 Singaporeans and PRs. It is part of NAC’s on-going efforts to provide arts practitioners, partners and industry stakeholders with useful resources to help plan and implement their programmes and activities.


Other findings from survey

Other findings related to seniors and retirees:

  • Traditional theatre and variety shows, folk/traditional/ethnic dance and traditional ethnic music found greatest support among this group, rather than contemporary productions. This group is also keen on arts fairs, and community arts and cultural events.

    Community Arts Project “Fun with Fabric” conducted by Artist Tay Bee Aye at AWWA Seniors Activity Centre.

  • A majority of 84 percent see the arts as a form of entertainment. About half of them agreed that the arts helped them to broaden their minds and was a good way for them to spend time with friends and family.
  • Most seniors and retirees participated in the arts by having an arts-related hobby or as personal leisure. In addition, one in three seniors purchased or loaned art works or donated money to support the arts. On the other hand, significantly fewer of them participated in arts and cultural clubs, performances, shows and exhibits.
  • Compared to the average arts participant, a significantly higher proportion of seniors participated in the arts at home which could be attributed to mobility issues or that a majority of seniors who participated in the arts did so as a hobby. Interestingly, a greater proportion of seniors and retirees participated in the arts at museums and places of worship than the average arts participant.

NAC said it would continue to look for ways in which the arts can be made relevant to seniors. “Working with and through community partners such as the Health Promotion Board, People’s Association, RSVP – The Organisation of Senior Volunteers, senior activity centres, VWOs and so on, we will continue to encourage more seniors to participate in arts-hobby groups, provide more opportunities for seniors, together with their families, to enjoy the arts close to where they live, as well as develop more projects in collaboration with artists that will enable seniors to experience the arts as a meaningful part of their lives.”

For more details on the report, go to:


** 2009 information is not available, as seniors above the age of 65 were not surveyed during that year.

(** PHOTO CREDITS: National Arts Council)



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