Singapore is engaged in a battle for Asian arts supremacy with Hong Kong. The city state has made a huge investment in the Singapore Free Port and will be launching Art Stage Singapore in January of 2011. The New York Times explains one of the reasons:
“New York and London are what they are, not because of the specific economic activities they conduct but because people want to be there,” the Economic Strategies Committee, a panel of leaders from the public and private sectors said in its report. “That too, has to be Singapore’s key advantage in the future.” […] From 2005 to 2008, the government doubled its support for the arts to 110.3 million Singapore dollars, or $78.5 million, from 55.1 million dollars. More money is expected to be added when the 2010 budget is announced Monday and the government formally responds to the panel’s recommendations.
Although quantifying the economic effect of spending on the arts is notoriously difficult, a 2007 report by Americans for the Arts, a nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in the United States, found that every $1 billion of spending by arts groups and their audiences resulted in about 70,000 full-time equivalent jobs. A connection between arts spending and increased tourism revenue has also been cited in studies in a number of countries.
Singapore Looks for a Softer Side of Growth (New York Times)