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Preview: The Inaugural Festival of Indian Arts and Ideas


For one weekend this April, get ready for the very first Festival of Indian Arts and Ideas. Taking place at both the Victoria Theatre and The Arts House, watch as the festival unites iconic Indian artists and thinkers to Singapore for a weekend of debate and dialogue, celebrating the rich and expansive tradition of Indian literature, dance, design, cuisine, architecture, faith, and diplomacy.

Nirupama Rao

Supported by Arts House Limited, the festival is helmed by producers and curators Maniza Jumabhoy, Founder of Limelight Arts and Preeti Dawra, Singaporean-Indian columnist and Founder of The Art of Communication. Says Indian High Commissioner Mr Jawed Ashraf: “I am pleased to see the launch of the Festival of Indian Arts and Ideas in Singapore with an impressive list of speakers in the inaugural session. It will be an important addition to the rich and diverse Indian cultural calendar in Singapore. It has the potential to evolve into an excellent window to the traditional and the contemporary in India. In doing so, it will continue the timeless spiritual, cultural and intellectual engagement between India and Southeast Asia. And, it will deepen understanding of India at a time of her growing global role and rapidly expanding ties with Southeast Asia. As a regional hub, as home to one of India’s most vibrant diasporas in the world and as a springboard for India to the broader East in recent decades, Singapore is an ideal place for this festival.”

Chetan Bhagat

Says producer Maniza Jumabhoy: “We wanted to bring cutting edge and contemporary Indian artists, writers, and thinkers who have been ground-breaking in their respective fields to Singapore. Our hope is to further showcase the diversity and depth of Indian arts and ideas to the local Singapore audience.”

Manu Joseph

Themed Looking Back, Looking Forward: Old Stories, New Narratives, expect a series of powerful performances, conversations, and interactions on arts, literature, history, politics, culture, and faith of India, set to expose audiences to a world of new ideas and experiences in the company of like-minded lovers of literature and arts. Adds Sarah Martin, CEO of Arts House Limited: “We are proud to have the inaugural Festival of Indian Arts and Ideas in two of our venues, Victoria Theatre and The Arts House. Located within the Civic District, each building was significant in shaping the nation, with the former built for public meetings and town halls, and the latter served as Singapore’s first Parliament House. With this in mind, we hope that the discussions, discourse and dialogue during this weekend would enrich and engage audiences in Singapore.”

Shantum Seth

Highlights of the festival include speakers such as blockbuster bestselling writer Chetan Bhagat, dancer and choreographer Mallika Sarabhai, political commentator and satirist Manu Joseph, author Aatish Taseer, Ambassador to the United States and China Nirupama Rao, author and columnist Kishwar Desai, pre-eminent Buddhist teacher and scholar Dharamacharya Shantum Seth, Indian heritage architecture restorer Sunita Kohli and more.

Kishwar Desai

The festival will bring them together to foster dialogue and debate and showcase their finest works. With punchy stories and soul grabbing narratives of fiction, non-fiction, mythology, history, literature, and culture, the speakers will examine the nation’s rich traditions in the arts as well as its fault lines. Issues that have tested the spirit and shaken the conscience of the region will be spotlighted, alongside the irrepressible humour and wit of the region.

Aatish Taseer

Says producer Preeti Dawra, also former Head of External Relations at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy:”Great cities are built, not just on infrastructure and technology, but the vibrant life of the mind. At a time when Singapore is increasingly recognized as a space for both, the festival will foster a one-of-a-kind dialogue to highlight the syncretic culture of Indian arts and ideas and its wider impact on Singapore and ASEAN. It would be a testament to what arts and ideas can do to shape the region.”

Photos Courtesy of Limelight Arts

The inaugural Festival of Indian Arts and Ideas runs from 27th to 28th April 2019 at the Victoria Theatre and The Arts House. For a full list of programmes refer to their website here. Tickets available from APACtix

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