Looking for something to do this weekend that is not Halloween related? Why not check out Shantanjali Festival of Arts (“SFA”) happening at Kallang Community Centre! We sit down for a chat with Chitra Poornima Sathish to find out what is SFA all about, how collaboration is the ‘in’ thing for the arts scene, and what you can experience at the festival itself!
First organised by the Temple of Fine Arts in 2014, SFA is an initiative to create a collaborative space for local artists. Through coming together and creating art, these artists are given a chance to engage in conversation about the growing arts community in Singapore through cross-cultural exchanges.
With the main theme of “Celebrating Togetherness Through the Arts”, SFA has transformed from being another performance avenue to a shared space for collaboration in just four years. “Singers to dancers, spoken word artists to migrant workers who share their unheard stories from distant homes, and artists of diverse abilities, a wide range of groups will be performing at SFA 2018.” Chitra, the programme coordinator for SFA said: “With their support, the audience is treated to numerous art forms, artistic dialogues and valuable cross-cultural exchanges.”
Despite the numerous collaborative pieces – including a captivating performance created by Maya Dance Theatre and Dancers With Diverse Abilities – you can find at this year’s festival, SFA was not always highly sought out by local artists “When we first started, the biggest challenge we faced was getting organisations to participate.” Chitra mentioned, pointing out that “many did not understand the concept of SFA, and were under the impression it was just another show”. But over time, word spread of this collaborative initiative and now SFA has grown into a rich cultural platform where local artists look forward to showcasing their collaborative work to audiences.
Increasingly, discussion on how to bring the art community closer has been abound in our local scene. The main point of discussion? Collaboration. But in Chitra’s perspective, you can’t have valuable collaboration without respect and understanding. “Recognising that every group of people, from the various diverse sections of our community, has their own unique strength, is the key,” Chitra further added that: “Respecting each other’s backgrounds, and listening to one another’s artistic voice are also important factors. These would help us see value in artistic dialogue and exchange.” Indeed, respect for another’s creation is something that is very important in the local arts community and will definitely foster further open dialogue.
Aside from collaboration, there is an ongoing movement to bring communities closer together in Singapore, and what better than art? Chitra stated: “Art is incredibly powerful in that it transcends all background and ability and has the potential to break barriers and bring people from all walks of life together. “ Indeed, this is something that SFA is aiming to do as well.
In order to foster greater inclusivity for all walks of life in the local arts scene, SFA will be featuring artworks by students from Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore. Members of old folks homes will also be invited down to the festival, where they could attend “specially designed health and wellness workshops and enriching art sessions conducted by professionals”. On top of that, there will also be a play zone for children and a local art market for attendees. Clearly, there is something for everyone to experience at the festival itself.
However, Chitra points out that while it is great that we have avenues like SFA to foster collaboration, it isn’t enough. “Singapore hosts numerous festivals that feature internationally acclaimed artists. While this is great and allows for more exposure for Singaporeans, I do feel that local artists should have more opportunities to perform, learn and establish themselves. Local talent needs more platforms within Singapore, and there ought to be more cross-cultural exchanges between artists, instead of artists performing within their own community circles.”
So what can interested individuals do to further encourage collaboration in the arts scene? According to Chitra, sometimes just a thank you or a smile will be good enough. “We need to support the creative and passionate people around us and show them that what they do is vital in reminding and allowing the rest of us to breathe again when we get lost in the stresses of life.” Aside from attending and supporting events like SFA, showing appreciation for these artists that provide much solace in our busy lives are little things. However, these little things will allow our local artists to grow and mature “from feeding on tangibly expressed love and support”.
Nonetheless, showing up to support events like SFA will always be the greatest form of appreciation for the arts scene in Singapore. If you have time this weekend, do drop by Kallang Community Centre with your family and friends to support our local artists!
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