Unlocking New Opportunities in The Arts Space

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The arts – both visual and performance, play two fundamental roles in everyday society.

Firstly, it preserves and expresses a nation’s cultural identity, history and heritage – fostering a sense of belonging and community among people. When we talk about Singapore specifically, the Nation has always been a choice destination for global visitors for a multitude of reasons. The arts are one of these reasons.

Arts play an important role in showcasing Singapore’s history and culture to visitors. It also contributes to a vibrant city that Singaporeans are proud to call home. 7 out of 10 Singaporeans agreed that arts and culture give a greater sense of belonging to Singapore.

Secondly, it acts as a channel for expression and communication across different societal groups. It enables individuals and communities to convey emotions, ideas, values and experiences that may be challenging to articulate with words alone. Art often serves as a medium to address current issues like mental health, advocate for social change and foster dialogue and understanding of complicated societal challenges.

Singapore understands the strategic importance of the arts. The country developed ‘Our SG Arts Plan’, a roadmap that guides Singapore’s arts and culture policies over the next five years. Digitalisation is one key pillar in this roadmap that will allow the arts industry to innovate and create new opportunities. Private-public partnerships and joint efforts are necessary for true digitalisation to be available and, in turn, be optimally adopted for real positive impact.

Digitalising the Arts

National Arts Council (NAC) joined forces with private stakeholders like UOB FinLab to develop initiatives tailored for the arts to drive digitalisation efforts across the arts industry. UOB FinLab recognises that art is a powerful tool to build a vibrant culture and sees immense potential the sector will receive through digitalisation. However, we understand that education, resources and access to a vast ecosystem is paramount for arts organisations to successfully digitise and receive the immense benefits.

As a result of this, UOB FinLab in collaboration with the National Arts Council (NAC) developed a digitalisation program, Acceleration Programme for the Arts, tailored specifically for the arts sector which seeks to help artists and organisations digitalise and bolster their business competencies.

Felix Arts Accelerator - Unlocking New Opportunities In The Arts Space
Participants going through one of the sessions at UOB FinLab’s Acceleration Programme for the Arts 2023

UOB FinLab’s Acceleration Programme for the Arts aims to help arts organisations strengthen both business and digital capabilities to propel growth. The programme enables participants to leverage UOB FinLab’s vast ecosystem of government partners, mentors, solutions providers and key industry stakeholders across ASEAN. With such an extensive network, this allows participants to gain access to knowledge, best practices, resources and new business prospects.

In addition, the programme teaches participants about different business models and strategies specifically tailored for the arts industry such as marketing, customer retention, consumer credit card journeys and best practices for operating a commercial business.

Today, we look at one of the participants of our Acceleration Programme for the Arts, OH! Open House. We will explore the specific challenges unique to the arts industry and what OH! Open House did to tackle them.

Arts X Digitalisation X Business

OH! Open House is an independent arts organisation that tells alternative stories of Singapore through art. It was founded in 2009 and has since provided more than 50,000 people with the unique experience of appreciating art and heritage outside of museums and galleries – from strangers’ homes to underutilised public spaces.

Su Pei Lim, Deputy Director, OH! Open House, had some understanding of digitalisation and was unsure how to implement tools in an impactful manner.

“I would rate my digitalisation knowledge as three or four out of ten. Although I’m not in the stone age spectrum of digital knowledge, it takes time to understand which areas of the business can be improved through digitalisation or new business strategies. Education from private sector players like UOB FinLab is important to help the industry speed up its knowledge and implement best practices” said Su Pei.

Su Pei said, “There are so many ways to improve our business through digitalisation. We have implemented multiple digital tools – including accounting and HR software that really helped us with our business operations.”

One of the most complicated workstreams at OH! Open House was dealing with large numbers of visitors purchasing tickets across different websites and ticketing platforms. Su Pei realised that digitising the ticketing system would streamline the entire process without having to manually register each visitor and account for every ticket sold.

Embracing digitalisation reduced the manpower hours needed to manually register every visitor. Su Pei is now looking one step ahead and planning to implement additional digital initiatives such as an advanced ticketing system that also integrates and consolidates ticket purchases from multiple sellers like Klook and travel agents.

“The next step in our ticketing system is to ensure that we have an integrated dashboard that captures ticket purchases from every single ticketing platform. This will ensure visitors can choose where they want to buy tickets and make the entire process easier. It was through the UOB FinLab network where I was able to meet partners like Qashier and integrate its Point-of-Sale (POS) system into the business – which is an important first step before developing a new ticketing system.” Su Pei added.

“Another goal for us is to develop a volunteer management system in 2024. We have a big pool of over 200 voxxlunteers, and we need a system that tracks sign ups, scheduling, retention rate, attendance and feedback sharing, said Su Pei.”

Endless Opportunities

Digitalisation has enabled and will continue to unlock endless opportunities for the arts industry.

“I believe that digitalisation will open new doors for the art industry. One big market I foresee is digital archiving where arts groups can archive, organise and manage their work,” Su Pei added.

Currently, there is a goldmine of digital and physical artwork that is either uploaded to an unknown Google cloud drive, or physically sitting in someone’s storeroom. Digital archiving will allow art groups with a system to archive art and collaborate with partners to repurpose their artwork – prolonging the life of their artwork and ensuring their stories get told.

UOB FinLab’s Acceleration Programme for the Arts will return for a second run in 2024.

The four-week programme is designed by UOB FinLab and the National Arts Council (NAC). It will enable participants in the arts industry to bolster their business and financial competencies, while learning from industry experts, peer discussions and engaging in curated workshops.

To find out more, click here.

Online programme

Start Smart Programme

Designed for business owners to enhance their digital capabilities through practical learning, this programme takes businesses to the next level.

Online programme

Start Smart Programme

Designed for business owners to enhance their digital capabilities through practical learning, this programme takes businesses to the next level.