When the Singapore International Festival of Arts (Sifa) was forced to take a hiatus last year in light of Covid-19, the organisers wasted no time in programming Sifa v2.020. Not only did the series of curated virtual events comprising talks, workshops and performances engaged and entertained audiences during the pandemic, it provided valuable lessons for when it came time to reimagine an arts festival for the future.
“One of the things that this pandemic has brought on is it has shown the resilience and creativity that is possible within the arts,” says Gaurav Kripalani, whose three-year tenure as festival director was extended for another year. “When some of the best artists around the world found that they could not present their work physically in a theatre, they were able to adapt and present their work online and in a hybrid manner.”
Featuring a line-up of 60 shows and 300 performances, including a bumper crop of nine festival commissions, presented over 16 days, from May 14 to 30, Sifa 2021 returns with a hybrid format, comprising live and digital programmes and, at times, a blend of both. Many of these programmes showcase works created in response to the here and now. Kripalani cites Scottish illusionist and mentalist Scott Silven’s The Journey. When it no longer became possible to perform the original show with 30 people sitting at a long dining table during a three-course meal, the performance artist created a new show for the digital stage. The 30 people are now invited to travel virtually across the globe to his home in rural Scotland while exploring the transformative power of place.
Beside presenting a spectrum of works for diverse audiences, Kripalani has also stayed true to the vision he shaped from his first edition of the festival in 2018 by providing opportunities for Singapore artists to produce original works as well as encouraging collaborations between local and international artists.
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