Singapore events: pay and pay

Recently, I’ve noticed that events in Singapore are getting more and more expensive to join or visit.

Commercial events like Anime Festival Asia, Singapore Toy Game and Comic Convention, Asia Dive Expo and others will definitely want to make as much profit as they can. So they will charge as high as possible for both exhibitor booth space and visitor entry tickets. I have steadfastly refused to pay for visitor entry tickets to attend such events as it’s usually not worth it: $10 to $20 to look at booths (pay more $ to buy stuff) and a few stage talks.

The Ramadan / Hari Raya Geylang Serai bazaar has similarly increased their rates (links: #1, #2, #3). During the 2018 bazaar, Ramly burgers were selling for $4 each, more than a fast-food burger. Bear in mind that this is street food without tables and seats or air-conditioning.

But as long as people are willing to fork out cash to attend, these companies will continue to charge and even increase ticket and booth prices in order to make more profits. They are commercial organisations after all, not social enterprises or non-profit community groups.

What I really want to complain about are those events which are allegedly supported by government organisations and yet charge an arm and a leg for exhibitors and visitors alike.

Exhibit #1: Creative Market 2018

This is supposedly supported by the National Youth Council, an official government organisation (note the gov.sg website) and held at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre, a community building.

Yet it charges $60 for a booth at a 1-day event with little to no passer-by traffic. On a Saturday, the Tanjong Pagar office area is mostly dead and most of the shops are closed. Very few people are going to walk through the area. The Creative Market booths were also located in a “void deck” area with no air-conditioning, just a roof.

The artists would probably have gotten more business in a HDB housing area’s town centre. High booth costs also result in high prices for merchandise, so I ended up not buying any.

[Edit: Compare Carousell’s Creative Market, which costs only $20 per day for member booths in an air-conditioned shopping centre on a weekend.]

Exhibit #2: Maker Faire

Event organisers are listed as Science Centre (edu.sg website) and Agency for Science, Technology and Research (well-funded gov.sg organisation). The location is Our Tampines Hub, the brand new community centre / sports stadium / library / retail building constructed with taxpayer funds.

So of course, this being Singapore, they are still going to charge visitors $10 to enter and view the booths. (Addition: Ticket price for children aged 3-12 is $5. Compare with STGCC, a commercial event, which allows free entry for children under 12 on Sunday with a paying adult.)

Welcome to Singapore, where “supporting creativity” = “pay first, then create”.

Other special mentions:

EOY has moved from Marina Barrage (cheap, mostly open air, isolated location) to Suntec Convention Centre (expensive, commercial space, town area, air-conditioned), which means it will probably start charging for entry in 2018.

Campus Game Fest was “upgraded” to Asia Game Festival in 2018 and went from free to ticketed. Eventually they had to reduce their ticket prices, most likely due to low sales.

Doujin Market is considering paid entry for next year. Given the terrible experience (long queue, wait for security check, too crowded to move) in 2018, this might be my justification to skip it in future.

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