Presenting over 300 performances and 60 shows live and online, SIFA returns in May 2021 to feature a record number of local commissions and innovative ways of experiencing international works.
Singapore, 16 March 2020 — At a time when most theatres in the world are closed, Singapore will stage one of the first international arts festivals in the world to take place since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Featuring a bumper crop of new commissions and international work, both live and online, the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) will present over 60 shows and 300 performances, with artists from Switzerland, Australia, USA, Lebanon, Japan, Malaysia and Philippines performing alongside hundreds of Singaporean artists and freelancers within the 16-day festival period. SIFA 2021 will lead the way in showing what an international festival might look like in the future, with its format of live, hybrid, and digital programmes.
Festival Director Gaurav Kripalani says “This festival has been programmed as a response to everything we’ve been through and the environment we live in now. Streaming performances online was what a lot of us had to resort to during lock-down, which is less than ideal. What it did do though was spur my interest in exploring 3D, interactive and responsive technologies in relationship to performance, which I believe will become an integral part of the performing arts going forward. If we had to find a silver lining to COVID-19, it is that there is a far greater appreciation for the arts and a pent-up demand for live performances.”
Bringing the world to you
In a year when most people are unable to travel or attend a show in person, SIFA brings the world to its audiences through a curated line-up of work from game-changing artists from Singapore and beyond. It will showcase artists who have incorporated different technologies from lo-fi to high-tech to interact with audiences in real time; live performances in theatres, and shows where artists have collaborated across borders.
Highlights include the debut of one of the first Chinese-English modern adaptations of Chekov’s Three Sisters by New York-based SITI Company and Singaporean theatre group Nine Years Theatre, with SITI company actors appearing digitally whilst the Singaporean actors perform on stage; American dancer and choreographer Pam Tanowitz using remote-working technology to create a new piece as part of the three-part production The Rhythm of Us by Singapore Dance Theatre and Singapore Symphony Orchestra, who will be performing together live at the Esplanade Theatre; and Sophia Brous presenting the world premiere of The Invisible Opera in which she will perform live in Melbourne whilst interacting with audiences in a Singapore city square.
Celebration of live and life
SIFA 2021 will boast a rich line-up of live performances in various venues with new festival commissions and works by Singaporean artists, including first-time collaborations between major arts companies.
In addition to world premieres of The Year of No Return by The Necessary Stage, A Dream Under the Southern Bough: Existence by Toy Factory Productions, OIWA – the Ghost of Yotsuya by The Finger Players, which will feature both Singaporean and Japanese actors, there will also be the first stage collaboration between Pangdemonium, Wild Rice Theatre and Singapore Repertory Theatre, a hybrid concert by Zeugma and a VR immersive experience by The Observatory. The opening weekend of the Festival will also feature a tribute concert to celebrate Singapore jazz legend and 2018 Cultural Medallion recipient Louis Soliano.
Connection, Compassion & Community
Care, compassion and climate change will be a central theme throughout the Festival House programmes. This will include performances related to self-care and healing; a weekend of works curated for toddlers, children and families that are related to climate change; and a concert series centred around compassion, which will feature various Singapore-based chamber ensembles.
Festival Director Kripalani added, “Art serves as a mirror to our time as well as a cathartic tool to help heal and give hope. The festival will be a moment for us all to commune after a period of isolation and I am incredibly proud that Singapore has SIFA, a high-quality platform of curated experiences and shows to meet different passion points.”
Arts House Limited Executive Director Tan Boon Hui says “Based in New York throughout 2020, I saw at first hand the devastation the pandemic had on the arts scene with all live performances ceased and theatres closed. Both artists and audiences were out of work and cut off from the joys and consolations of art during this time of desolation. We are truly fortunate in Singapore to have the opportunity to experience the live arts at this moment. Gaurav’s final festival is one of hope, a signal for how art can help in the recovery of our society by bringing people together in theatres, concert halls as well as the virtual halls of the digital realm. It is a beacon for the new worlds of artistic presentation that are being forged by artists here and abroad in the wake of the pandemic.”
Deputy Chief Executive (Sector Development), National Arts Council (NAC), Low Eng Teong, says, “We celebrate the resilience of the arts community as we saw how quickly they had adapted to put together an online showcase last year, allowing audiences from around the world to experience the best of performing arts. Even with the ongoing pandemic, the arts continue to bring people together as we remain safely apart. With SIFA 2021, we look forward to sharing meaningful arts experiences through works created by Singapore and international artists. As festival programmes thread across both physical and digital platforms, more audiences can now come together to enjoy and experience the arts, safely.”
SIFA 2021 is organised by Arts House Limited, commissioned by the National Arts Council, and part of the #SGCultureAnywhere campaign.
For full programme information and high-res images, please click here.
(Images are courtesy of Arts House Limited, unless otherwise stated)
For more information on SIFA 2021 Festival Partners, click here.
For more information, please contact:
Senior Account Executive
M: +65 8163 4662
Arts House Limited
M: +65 9180 7776
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About the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA)
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. SIFA continues its festival mission to champion the creation and presentation of Singaporean and international works.
About Arts House Limited (AHL)
Arts House Limited (AHL) is a not-for-profit organisation committed to enriching lives through the arts. AHL manages two key landmarks located in the heart of Singapore’s Civic District – The Arts House, a multi-disciplinary arts centre with a focus on literary programming, and the Victoria Theatre & Victoria Concert Hall, a heritage building that is home to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. It also runs the Goodman Arts Centre and Aliwal Arts Centre, two creative enclaves for artists, arts groups and creative businesses, and performing arts space Drama Centre. AHL presents the Singapore International Festival of Arts, the annual pinnacle celebration of performance and interdisciplinary arts in Singapore commissioned by the National Arts Council.
AHL was set up in 11 December 2002 as a company limited by guarantee (CLG) under the National Arts Council and was formerly known as The Old Parliament House Limited. It was officially renamed Arts House Limited on 19 March 2014. In 2020, AHL was appointed cultural place manager of the Civic District.
About National Arts Council (NAC)
The National Arts Council champions the arts in Singapore. By nurturing creative excellence and supporting broad audience engagement, our diverse and distinctive arts inspire our people, connect communities and profile Singapore internationally. We preserve our rich cultural traditions as we cultivate accomplished artists and vibrant companies for the future. Our support for the arts is comprehensive – from grants and partnerships to industry facilitation and arts housing. The Council welcomes greater private and corporate giving to and through the arts, so that together we can make the arts an integral part of everyone’s lives. For more information on the Council’s mission and plans, please visit www.nac.gov.sg.