New Direction for Singapore Arts Festival 2010
“Between You and Me”
14 May – 13 June 2010
The Singapore Arts Festival has embarked on a new phase of development under the leadership of General Manager, Low Kee Hong. Key changes and initiatives have been set in motion to grow the 33-year-old Festival into a Creation Festival and a People’s Festival.
The Festival will have a greater focus on the creative process and perspectives of art making in Asia. It will provide a platform to showcase performances, collaborations and new works-in-progress by Singapore and Asian artists while maintaining a global perspective. A year-long education and outreach programme, titled com.mune, has been introduced to sustain the Festival’s engagement with the public beyond individual shows staged during the Festival period.
“The Singapore Arts Festival needs to grow its character continually and develop a more intimate relationship with the people, audience and art makers alike. It has to be relevant to the Asian context while living up to its contemporary character. We also want the people to see the Festival as a source of inspiration and a means for self-reflection and creative expressions. This underpins our new direction of encouraging active partaking of the Festival through our thematic programme, and perennial education and outreach activities that enable the people to build their bonds with the Festival,” says Low Kee Hong, General Manager, Singapore Arts Festival.
In response to the current Asian contemporary art-making processes and perspectives in the region, the Festival will be launching several targeted platforms to facilitate deeper dialogue, collaboration and content creation. Most significantly, it seeks to encourage the creation of new works that are relevant to and resonate with communities in Singapore and beyond.
An important part of the Festival’s mission is to capture and create content that originates from this part of the world. Between Traditional and Contemporary will fulfill the need to engage with our sense of tradition, the forms and how they can become relevant to contemporaneous times. Artists who are trained in a traditional art form, such as Thai mask dance, will be able to explore new works through the contemporary frame, but based on their classical training. This dialogue is crucial as it reflects a common experience coming out of Asia: the tension between the vernacular and the contemporary. This is embodied in productions such as Nijinsky Siam, through which Thai classical dancer-choreographer Pichet Klunchen seeks a dialogue with and to invoke the presence of the legendary Russian dancer Vaslav Nijinsky.
A new developmental platform, Open Studio, will allow artists to engage in the creative process for a year without the pressure of presenting a full-length work on a tight deadline. It will culminate in a series of open workshops and showings during the time of the Festival, and serve to inform and explore the artists’ future work and vocabulary. The showings can eventually move on to a full commission by the Singapore Arts Festival, other festivals or presenting institutions. Open Studio will be curated by Dr Robin Loon, Tang Fu Kuen and Kok Heng Leun. The platform will also provide the opportunity for audiences, as well as producers and presenters to experience the creations by the young artists.
To profile works and artists closer to home, the Festival will be partnering with Esplanade for ConversAsians, a strategic platform for the international community to engage with Asian artists and their work. The event will centre on the creative process of Asian artists, spotlighting Asian artists known for their innovative and distinctive styles and providing opportunities to listen to their perspectives on the arts and appreciate their creative journeys. The partnership between the Festival and Esplanade will focus on industry development by encouraging collaborations with and presentations of Asian artists and arts groups, and through the creation of unique works, to raise Singapore’s profile as a powerhouse of Asian arts creation. Artists participating in this event such as Lin Hwai-Min, dance doyen and founder of Cloud Gate Dance Theatre (Taiwan), Nitin Sawhney (UK), Pichet Klunchen (Thailand) and Han Tae-Sook, playwright, director and founder of Theatre Mollee (Korea) will also be staging works in the Singapore Arts Festival.
Audiences will have the opportunity to experience exciting works by individual artists who are not affiliated to any company in the new Festival platform, Solo Projects. Increasingly, artists are working on an individual basis, and creating work that present different perspectives and engage the audience differently. The new platform will provide audiences with an alternative to large scale performances.
The Festival will showcase a new genre, Dance/Film, created through the dialogue between a choreographer and a film maker. Dance films explore ideas and expression of movement that are not possible in a ‘live’ performance. A highly developed and popular form in Europe, the taste for dance films is catching on in Asia. This platform will also expand the dialogue with a ‘live’ performance, giving audiences multiple perspectives when approaching dance. Dance/Film will be curated by Yuni Hadi and daniel k.
There will also be works presented that build on the process of dialogue on the artistic, cultural, social, political and personal fronts. Cross-border, cross-art form and cross-cultural collaborations are reflected in productions such as Eonnagata by Sylvie Guillem, Robert Lepage and Russell Maliphant (France/Canada/UK), On the String by Joyce Koh and visual artist Khiew Huey Chian (Singapore), and Red Demon by Makhampom Theatre Group, a contemporary Thai folk dance-drama directed by award-winning contemporary performing arts practitioner Pradit Prasartthong (Thailand). Visceral, powerful and personal audience encounters are central to productions such as Cargo Singapore by Rimini Protokoll (Germany).
With its focus on building a deeper interconnectedness between the Festival, artists/arts groups, audiences and partners, the Festival has created opportunities to ignite active interaction and engagement.
com.mune, a year-long education and outreach programme series, will enable audiences to grow more familiar with the Festival productions, develop their knowledge about contemporary and traditional forms, gain insights into the creative process, and be inspired to participate more actively in the Festival. Audiences can step up their level of participation through programmes such as the Mega Line Dance that closes the Festival. The education and outreach programmes will cut across all segments, catering to different needs and developmental processes.
Seminal works from Singaporean artists and arts groups will be presented in another Festival platform, Re/visit/create/imagine/mix, to build a consciousness of Singapore’s performance heritage and history. Audiences are reconnected with eminent Singapore stagings through these opportunities to reach and touch new audiences and for old fans to re-experience these works. Emily of Emerald Hill starring Margaret Chan, and Those Who Can’t, Teach by The Necessary Stage are two of the productions that will be revisited in this year’s Festival.
Platform Campus will embrace student performances, which have improved by leaps and bounds over the years to reach a high standard of quality. Each edition of the Festival will feature about ten groups, ranging from theatre, dance and music to visual arts, bringing their performances to key venues of the Festival like The Esplanade, Victoria Theatre and Drama Centre.
The Festival experience extends into the night, as the After Dark series heralds a variety of late night programmes held in clubs, lounges and other alternative spaces. This year, the Festival introduces Nitin Sawhney in a delectable Sound System programme which sees him, backed by three live musicians, in a unique DJ blend drawn from flamenco, Indian classical music, Brazillian samba and hip hop. Boosting the late night quotient too is the intense and electrifying musical conversation between Japanese contemporary artist Atsuhiro Ito and guest artists, sound artist Zai Kuning and laptop rock pioneer Analog Girl. This unusual club performance manipulates musicality and digital technology to sculpt a hypnotic soundscape and visual canvas, and pushes live performance to a whole new level
Other Festival highlights include Manganiyar Seduction by acclaimed Indian director Royston Abel (India); the celebrated Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields (UK) with renowned American violin soloist Joshua Bell; Eleven and Twelve by Theatre du Bouffe du Nord (France); and Gatz by Elevator Repair Service (New York).
In addition, the Festival will be co-presenting works with Goethe Institut. It will also be working with partners such as Esplanade, the Singapore Street Festival, Community Development Councils, the People’s Association, and educational institutions, to broaden its reach and deepen its involvement in the community.
Themed “Between You and Me”, the 2010 Festival aims to deepen the connection of the public with the Festival, build an intimate bond, and develop their sense of ownership of the Festival. Starting with the 2011 edition, the Festival will be curated along a thematic thread that reflects and responds to the social environment in a relevant manner, presenting a cohesive and connected programme. Audiences will be able to relate productions with the theme and understand the direction and purpose of the programming, enabling them to see the inspiration behind the theme.
ArtsFest Club members can enjoy attractive discounts for a limited period from 1 to 4 March 2010. Club membership is free and all are welcome to sign up. Early bird sales for public open from 5 to 31 March 2010. General sales begin on 1 April 2010.
For a glimpse of the festival highlights this year, please refer to the Annex.