Leadership changes and more local fare in the arts scene

Leadership changes and more local fare in the arts scene

With Singapore celebrating its Golden Jubilee this year, the arts calendar is packed with retrospectives and a heavier emphasis on local content.

Arts organisations and artists in Singapore have lined up big-bang openings on the international stage but, at home, a changing of the guard at arts institutions leaves quite a few shoes to be filled.

There will be pomp and celebration: The Esplanade commemorates the nation's 50th birthday with a raft of events, including a theatre retrospective in April and May presenting excerpts and full-length productions of 50 iconic Singapore plays.

Production company Dream Academy has started the ball rolling with Great World Cabaret, a nostalgia-soaked variety show at Resorts World Sentosa from next month until March that looks at Singapore's nightlife legends of the swinging 60s and 70s.

The Singapore International Festival of Arts, due to take place in the second half of the year, is also looking homeward after last year's international spread, with at least a dozen new commissions from local groups and practitioners.

As with all art, there is the desire to push beyond the expected celebratory narratives of Singapore's success, and peel back the veil from alternative narratives and marginalised stories.

Project 50/100, with the tagline Alternative Narratives, New Perspectives, Other Truths, seeks input from civil society groups, artists and arts groups, academics and other members of the public to put together a diverse programme of events.

Theatre company Wild Rice, with its programming based on the Singapore flag's five stars - democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality - is also bound to offer performances viewed by establishment figures as contrarian but refreshingly so, given its edgy track record.

Taking on the world stage

Singapore has always tried to vie for its share of the international spotlight, and this year will see its return to the prestigious Venice Biennale exhibition, featuring multimedia artist Charles Lim and curator Shabbir Hussain Mustafa.

Singapore has taken part in every edition of the biennale since 2001 but it was absent from the 2013 show because its participation was under review by the National Arts Council.

A contingent of visual and performing artists and arts groups are also headed to the Singapore Festival In France, which is taking place from March to May.

The event will be hosted by various cultural institutions across the country, including the Palais de Tokyo, Theatre des Bouffes du Nord and Cinematheque Francaise.

Those going include theatre director Ong Keng Sen, mime artist and theatre performer Ramesh Meyyappan, classical music conductor Darrell Ang, dance group Frontier Danceland and traditional Chinese music group Siong Leng Musical Association.

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