Statistically Speaking: Analysing Arts Audience Engagement in Singapore and Australia

Representatives from Singapore’s National Arts Council (NAC) and the Australia Council for the Arts will discuss audience attitudes towards the arts in their respective countries, based on research survey data collected in 2019 and 2020. What does the data tell us about ourselves and how does this affect new policies and programmes? And what does it say about the future of the arts?

Thursday, 28 January 2020, 11am – 12.30pm  (GMT +8)

Moderator: Dr Charlene Rajendran

Speakers: Dr Sharon Chang, Chief Research Officer (NAC); Tay Tong, Director of Sector Development, Visual Arts (NAC); Chris Pope, Research Programme Manager (Australia Council); Jade Lillie, Head of Sector Development (Australia Council)



Dr. Charlene Rajendran is Assistant Professor at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Her research interests focus on contemporary interdisciplinary theatre, play-based pedagogy, issues of identity and arts leadership. Her publications include: Performing Southeast Asia: Performance, Politics and the Contemporary (co-edited with Marcus Tan, 2020, Palgrave Macmillan); Excavations, Interrogations, Krishen Jit and Contemporary Malaysian Theatre (co-edited with Ken Takiguchi and Carmen Nge, 2018, Epigram and Five Arts Centre), academic articles and creative works. Charlene has collaborated with diverse artists in performing, devising and facilitating dialogical processes since she was a teenager in the 1970s, and is currently Co-Director of the Asian Dramaturgs’ Network. 

Dr. Sharon Chang is concurrently the Research Director of the Culture Academy, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, as well as the Chief Research Officer of the National Arts Council in Singapore. Her teams conduct studies on social capital, time use, social attitudes, population surveys on arts and cultural engagement as well as arts and cultural manpower in Singapore. Sharon is an economist who has research experience in productivity measurement and growth, industry development, choice experiments and the non-market valuation of cultural resources.  Besides these, her current research interests include the measurement of the impact of community arts, arts education, cultural tourism, wellbeing as well as social capital.  Sharon has degrees in Economics from the National University of Singapore, the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Queensland in Australia. She has published in peer-reviewed journals such as the International Journal of Cultural Policy, Journal of Cultural Economics, International Journal of Hospitality Management as well as Tourism Analysis. 

Tay Tong is an internationally experienced arts worker, facilitator and consultant, whose 30-year experience spans international performing arts, intercultural practice, arts mobility and cultural policy. Tay is an advocate for engagement with diverse cultures and across disciplines and promotes the philosophy of ‘celebrating differences’ and cultural negotiation as well as the internationalisation of the arts. He was the Managing Director / Producer of the high-profile performance company, TheatreWorks (Singapore) and was Aide to the Festival Director for the first four editions of the Singapore International Festival of Arts (2013 – 2017). From 1999 till April 2018, Tay was the Director, Arts Network Asia (ANA), funded by the Ford Foundation, which brokers Asia-to Asia dialogue through the arts. Tay consulted for the NAC, Singapore, formulating the blueprint and providing a business plan for the implementation of the National Resource Centre for Arts Freelancers. He served on the selection panel for the Asia-Europe Foundation’s Mobility, and was Advisor to the Next Generation : Producing the Performing Arts, a programme by the Japan Foundation Asia Centre.  Tay Tong is presently the Director of Sector Development (Visual Arts) at NAC.

Chris Pope is Research Program Manager at the Australia Council for the Arts. Chris’s current role combines his passion for the arts and research, delivering valuable insights on topics such as audience engagement, artists’ careers and arts tourism to help build the evidence base for the arts, inform policy and support strategic planning and advocacy. 

Before his move to Australia in 2013, Chris spent several years working in data roles across the health and education sectors in the UK. He enjoys using visualisation to bring data to life and believes in the importance of making research findings accessible and engaging for all audiences.

Jade Lillie is a leader, executive, facilitator and specialist in community engagement. 

She was recognised for her thought leadership in receiving the Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship (2018–19) following her role as Director and CEO, Footscray Community Arts Centre (2012–17).

Jade is respected for her expertise in strategy and governance, commitment to collaboration, cultural leadership, and advocacy for equity and justice. She has worked extensively in arts, cultural development, health, education, community and international development in government and non-government settings. 

Jade is an experienced Board Director and Curator and Editor for The Relationship is the Project.


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