Govt subsidies for Taylor Swift show exclusivity was ‘nowhere as high as what is being speculated’: Edwin Tong 

Edwin Tong said decision for Taylor Swift grant was about what’s best for Singapore & Singaporeans

Even before Taylor Swift stepped foot on stage here in Singapore, rumours emerged that the Singapore government had paid show organisers for regional exclusivity.

In an exclusive interview with Channel NewsAsia (CNA), Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong clarified that the size of the subsidies was “nowhere as high as what is being speculated.”

Mr Tong maintained that the deal was struck in the best interest of Singapore and Singaporeans and that other countries in the region could have done the same too.

Edwin Tong to speak more about Taylor Swift grant next week in Parliament

Earlier in February, Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin claimed that Singapore had paid the Taylor Swift team in exchange for regional exclusivity for ‘The Eras Tour’.

Thai PM claims S’pore paid Taylor Swift up to S$4M/show for exclusivity in Southeast Asia

The figures mentioned by Mr Srettha were in the ballpark of US$2 million (S$2.7 million) to US$3 million (S$4 million) per show.

Speaking to CNA, Minister Tong said the figures are actually “nowhere as high as what is being speculated”.

Source: CNA on Facebook

CNA reported that based on its understanding, the figure is closer to US$2 million (S$2.7 million) to US$3 million (S$4 million) for all six shows.

Mr Tong said he would speak more about this in Parliament next week, noting that fellow Members of Parliament had filed questions about the subject.

The minister did not give a concrete answer as to whether the authorities could have gotten Swift to perform here without extending any grants.

However, he assured that the Government assesses each situation carefully before arriving at any decision.

The minister added that the deal wasn’t just about the size of the grant, but also about the infrastructure that Singapore has to offer.

Beyond having a “safe and stable” environment here, Mr Tong pointed out that there are also “other things to do” around the concert venue.

Decision was made based on what’s best for Singapore and Singaporeans

Despite protests from other countries, Mr Tong said the decision to give Swift a grant was based on what’s best for Singapore and Singaporeans:

We hustled a deal because we think it works for Singapore. That’s the bottom line.

The minister stressed that the decision was a commercial one and that such a deal is “open to all.”

He noted that countries in the region could have brokered such deals too.

“Who’s to say that they have not or had not, or will not in the future?” questioned Mr Tong.

He also highlighted that many factors are beyond Singapore’s control.

These include the promoter’s decision to play in certain markets, the number of nights, as well as the logistics of the show.

Ultimately, he said that promoters “know exactly what they are doing” when assessing a location for their show.

Taylor Swift’s show’s impact on Singapore economy “not small”

Mr Tong estimates that the impact of Swift’s shows on Singapore’s economy is “not small”.

One expert CNA spoke to estimated that Swift’s shows in Singapore could generate up to or more than A$1.2 billion (S$1.05 billion) in revenue.

Besides the economic benefits, the minister stressed that there are “intangible” rewards to hosting A-listers like Taylor Swift and Coldplay in Singapore.

Mr Tong said that Singapore’s reputation as a space that is able to host such highly sought-after artists gives itself an “uplift”.

In his view, this also contributes to the “overall desire to turn this into a strong culture hub, of all sorts.”

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Featured image adapted from @taylorerastour on Instagram and  CNA on Facebook

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