Attendance up at Sifa

Oreste By Ifigenia, whose cast included (from left) Chan Wei En, William Keohavong and Cherie Tse, was sold-out at the Singapore International Festival of Arts.
Oreste By Ifigenia, whose cast included (from left) Chan Wei En, William Keohavong and Cherie Tse, was sold-out at the Singapore International Festival of Arts. PHOTO: ARTS HOUSE LIMITED

More than 73,000 people attended the Singapore International Festival of Arts (Sifa) this year, up from 55,000 visitors last year.

The annual arts festival had more than 150 ticketed and free events from May 16 to June 2.

First launched as the Singapore Festival of Arts in 1977, Sifa is presented by not-for-profit organisation Arts House Limited and commissioned by the National Arts Council.

It is currently helmed by festival director Gaurav Kripalani, whose three-year term began last year.

Last year's festival had an attendance of more than 55,000 and sold 84 per cent of its tickets.

Organisers could not share ticket-sales data yet, but noted that six shows were sold-out.

These included four events helmed by international artists: Fragments, an intimate concert for fewer than 300 viewers performed by Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto; site-specific audio experience 100 Keyboards by Japanese artist Asuna; virtual-reality theatre production Frogman by British company curious directive; and storytelling performance Bedtime Stories by Dutch collective Urland.

Also sold-out were Oreste By Ifigenia, a restaging of Handel's opera Oreste by Singaporean theatre-maker Tan Shou Chen and music director Ng Tian Hui, as well as the concert Impulse by local group Varsha.

The festival's free closing concert featuring the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) at the Botanic Gardens drew crowds.

Mr Nigel Phang Teck How, vice-principal of Dazhong Primary School, went for the concert with pupils from his school's junior orchestra and choir. Since the pupils had previously attended an SSO concert for children in a concert hall, the outdoor event was chosen to "provide another perspective of how the arts could be positioned to connect with people", he said.

The 48-year-old added: "The concert provided a unique opportunity for our children to be exposed and be connected to the community, giving them a shared experience via the arts."

Another teacher, Mr Daryl Chan, who teaches a music module at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, took his students to a ticketed musical performance: New Zealand company Silo Theatre's adaptation of Sergei Profokiev's tale of adventure, Peter And The Wolf.

Mr Chan, 35, wanted his students to see how classic works have been adapted for contemporary audiences.

He said: "The experience with Sifa has been enriching, enlightening and entertaining."

Festival director Kripalani said: "Sifa is about taking us out of our comfort zones and broadening our horizons.

"The biggest compliments we received were from audience members who said, 'Thank you for presenting that show. I've never seen anything like that before.'"

Ms Sarah Martin, chief executive officer of Arts House Limited, said: "We see a greater range of audiences attending Sifa, a goal we strove for when curating a diverse programme."

Next year's Sifa is slated to run from May 15 to 31.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2019, with the headline Attendance up at Sifa. Subscribe