The idea of a performing arts center was first floated some 20 years ago. In the 80's the idea picked up momentum and in 1989, the Advisory Council on Culture and the Arts, chaired by the then Deputy Prime Minister Ong Teng Cheong recommended that an arts center be built for Singapore. Work began in the 90's and a steering committee was formed to plan the project. In 1992, the Singapore Arts Centre Co was established to lead the project. In 1994, the center was officially named Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, chosen as a result of its significant presence in the Esplanade Park. Esplanade's location is rich in historical significance. Since the 1800s, the original Esplanade Park on Connaught Drive has been synonymous with leisure and recreational activities, and today, it still evokes feelings of nostalgia and romance.
On August 11, 1996 Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Tony Tan marked the start of construction through a ground breaking ceremony. In 1997, the company was renamed The Esplanade Co Ltd to better reflect the company's role in managing the new arts center. The substructure was completed in 1998 followed closely by the start of construction of the superstructure above ground. In February 2001, the superstructure was completed and Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay opened her doors to the world on October 12, 2002. We are grateful to Singapore Pools (Private) Limited and Singapore Totalisator Board for their contribution of S$600 million for the development of Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay.