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Singapore International Festival of Arts

As Singapore’s annual pinnacle performing arts festival, the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) presents captivating and diverse works across theatre, music, dance, film and visual arts. First launched as the Singapore Festival of Arts in 1977, the festival has gone through several evolutions and inspired generations of arts lovers and practitioners. Today, the highly-anticipated festival is a high-point on Singapore’s arts and cultural calendar. 

Under the helm of Festival Director Gaurav Kripalani from 2018–2020, SIFA continues its festival mission to champion the creation and presentation of Singaporean and international works. At SIFA 2019, The Arts House will once again be transformed into the Festival House. With meaningful engagement opportunities from artists talks, workshops, discussions and the festival bar—House Pour, the Festival House breaks down the walls between artists and audiences to create unique experiences and inspiring artistic encounters.

 Festival Message 

I grew up looking forward to the Singapore Arts Festival every year. Watching shows across different genres from around the world played a big part in shaping my artistic sensibilities. Shows such as Ninagawa’s Macbeth (1992), for example, entirely changed my perception of how Shakespeare could be performed. In 1996, I acted in Singapore Repertory Theatre’s, Sing To The Dawn; it was the first time a Singaporean musical opened the Singapore Arts Festival. Given this history, I was delighted and honoured to be asked to helm the Singapore International Festival of Arts for the next three years.

What is SIFA’s role? Where does it fit in the cultural landscape, both at home and internationally? Who does it serve? Where would I like it to be in three years? As I was thinking of how to shape the festival, what I did know was that I wanted to programme a festival that would inspire young people in the same way that I was impacted 25 years ago.

With the support of the phenomenal team at SIFA, I aspired to curate a season that would showcase different art forms and perspectives from Singapore and around the world. We also strove to programme a spectrum of shows that would appeal to a variety of audiences, from the first-time festival-goer to the seasoned art lover. We believe we have programmed artists who are game-changers in their fields.   

In parallel, discussions commenced with several of the game-changers in the Singapore arts scene. One of SIFA’s roles is to commission and facilitate the creation of new Singaporean work - giving artists the time and resources to develop shows over a two- or three-year horizon. We look forward to presenting the culmination of this process in SIFA 2019 and 2020. 

Two memorable experiences from arts festivals I have attended around the world have been the free outdoor performances, and a festival ‘village’ — a place where artists and audiences can meet after a show and discuss what they’ve just seen. Both these elements can be found in SIFA 2018. The free outdoor programmes on the opening and closing weekends have some sensational performances to be enjoyed with family and friends. Over these three weeks, The Arts House will become Festival House. It will be the heartbeat of SIFA with performances, lectures, readings, music salons and, of course, a place to just hang out and chat. Artists will give talks, conduct masterclasses or host Q&As, and hopefully we will build relationships with them that last beyond the festival.

A key initiative that I introduced this year is the $10 front-row student ticket. I want the next generation of Singaporeans to know that they matter to SIFA. My hope is that they will fall in love with the arts in the same way I did at their age. 

I would like to thank Sarah Martin and the incredible team of people I work with at SIFA and at the Arts House. Despite the tight six-month runway to programme this festival, they have been nothing short of amazing and have worked tirelessly to produce a Festival that we hope resonates with you as much as it does with us.

Most of all, thank you for your support. The scope, breadth and reach of shows in SIFA will continue to grow over the next three years. We look forward to taking you on this exciting journey with us.

Gaurav Kripalani
Festival Director



Festivals bring people together to celebrate causes or to mark momentous occasions. Arts festivals allow us to not only appreciate the arts, they allow us to experience and form lasting and transformative memories. It is through shared experiences that we come to form communities.

 The inaugural Singapore Festival of Arts began in 1977 as a national showcase of the vibrant art forms found within Singapore’s diverse communities. In its many evolutions over the last four decades, the Festival has touched countless hearts, created invaluable experiences for many, and inspired even more to embrace the arts. From a time when Singapore was widely perceived as a cultural desert, the Festival has played an instrumental role in developing Singapore’s arts landscape and shaped the city-state into one of Asia’s leading cultural capitals.

This year, Singapore International Festival of Arts 2018 (SIFA 2018) marks the 41st edition and kicks off a new era with Gaurav Kripalani at the helm as Festival Director for 2018 – 2020. Condensed into 17 days of artistic adventures, it is our hope that this exhilarating three-week format will create robust artistic engagement for a spectrum of diverse audiences. The Arts House will be transformed into the Festival House, and within its intimate spaces, there will be meaningful discourses on the various themes presented in the festival.

Built upon the foundation and achievements of those who came before, Singapore International Festival of Arts is the sum of many parts made possible by a team of many talents who has worked tirelessly and passionately to deliver the festival director’s vision. I thank everyone who has had a hand in shaping the Singapore International Festival of Arts into a tradition for both new and existing audiences and making it the stalwart of Singapore’s dedication to artistic excellence.

Gaurav and the team have put together a festival of multiple layers allowing you to make up your own artistic adventures. It is my hope that you will walk away with unique memories of the Festival. 

Sarah Martin
CEO, Arts House Limited


The Singapore Arts Festival came to fruition when Young Musicians’ Society approached Mobil Oil Singapore Pte Ltd to sponsor a concert and Mobil Oil’s public relations manager, John K.B. Lim counter-proposed an arts festival.