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Lights On: The Story of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

Lights On: The Story of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay



What does it take to create and sustain Singapore’s national performing arts centre? Lights On takes you right to the beating heart of this story, through the first-person accounts of cultural workers and artists who have journeyed with Esplanade. Check out the main exhibition in the Concourse, as well as a self-guided audio trail spanning nine public spots in the centre. 


Get up close with these insider insights and reminiscences through sound bites, video stories, documentary photographs and physical memorabilia. These will take you from the 1980s when the idea for this arts centre was first conceived, to our hard-won opening in 2002, and on to the aspirations for our next chapter as we celebrate our 20th anniversary.


Arts administrator Juliana Lim looks back on her experience of planning for the building of the centre, while Esplanade’s first CEO Benson Puah talks about shaping our inclusive ethos. Architect Koh Seow Chuan, whose firm DP Architects designed the iconic spiky exterior along with Michael Wilford & Partners, also explains the project’s ideation and execution.


What is it like to perform in Esplanade, and what is the distinctive character of each of our various venues? Arts practitioners Alvin Tan, Aravinth Kumarasamy, Chen Sai Hua Kuan and Wang Ruobing, Gaurav Kripalani, Joanna Dong, Kuik Swee Boon, Siti Khalijah, and Tsung Yeh illuminate the artist’s experience, sharing their perspectives on how the centre has contributed to a larger arts ecosystem, in Singapore and beyond.


Finally, as voices of a new generation, arts-loving tween Ellie Heng, dance artists Hasyimah Harith and Norhaizad Adam, and singer-songwriter Joel Tan (Gentle Bones) talk about their hopes for the arts centre’s future.


About the Audio Trail


We all have personal memories attached to physical spaces. Listen to prominent Singapore artists and cultural workers share their perspectives on well-loved spaces in and around Esplanade. Their recollections can be heard on your mobile phone by scanning the QR codes at the spot.


  • Theatre Studio


Alvin Tan, Artistic Director, The Necessary Stage


  • Theatre


Gaurav Kripalani, Artistic Director, Singapore Repertory Theatre and Siti Khalijah, Actress


  • Concert Hall


Tsung Yeh, Music Director, Singapore Chinese Orchestra


  • Recital Studio


Aravinth Kumarasamy, Artistic Director, Apsaras Arts


  • Roof Terrace


Joanna Dong, Singer


  • Outdoor Theatre


Siti Khalijah Zainal, Actress and Kuik Swee Boon, Founder and Artistic Director, T.H.E Dance Company


  • Jendela (Visual Arts Space)


Benson Puah, former CEO, Esplanade and Dr Wang Ruobing, Artist


  • Forecourt Garden


Juliana Lim, Arts Administrator and Koh Seow Chuan, Founder, DP Architects


  • Concourse


Benson Puah, former CEO, Esplanade






19 Aug 2022 to 18 Aug 2024

Organised By:

Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay


Esplanade Concourse (exhibition), various locations in Esplanade (self-guided audio trail)

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