Festival of Indian Arts & Ideas 2019: LOOKING BACK, LOOKING FORWARD: OLD STORIES, NEW NARRATIVES
Inaugural Festival of Indian Arts and Ideas brings iconic Indian artists and thinkers to Singapore for a weekend of debate and dialogue
Singapore, 1 April 2019 – Singapore will celebrate the rich and expansive tradition of Indian literature, dance, design, cuisine, architecture, faith, and diplomacy, with a line-up of some of India's most iconic artists and thinkers. Supported by Arts House Limited, the inaugural Festival of Indian Arts and Ideas will be held in an exciting livewire weekend event at The Victoria Theatre and The Arts House, on 27 and 28 April 2019. 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.
"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," says Mrs. Jumabhoy.
The local audience will be able to partake in powerful performances, conversations, and interactions on arts, literature, history, politics, culture, and faith of India. It will expose their mind to a world of new ideas and experiences in the company of like-minded lovers of literature and arts.
"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," says. Ms. Dawra, former Head of External Relations at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
Iconic, inspirational and influential writers, editors, diplomats, public intellectuals, dancers and politicians from India will speak at the festival, with the theme: Looking Back, Looking Forward: Old Stories, New Narratives. They will engage, entertain and celebrate the interwoven tapestry of the subcontinent. Sarah Martin, CEO of Arts House Limited adds, "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."
Festival speakers include:
- Chetan Bhagat, blockbuster author, screenwriter, and columnist; writer of nine bestselling books, four of which have been made into successful Bollywood films.
- Mallika Sarabhai, India's foremost dancer, choreographer, playwright, and social activist
- Manu Joseph, one of India's most read political commentators and satirists, best-selling author, winner of The Hindu Literature Prize literary and former columnist for The New York Times.
- Aatish Taseer, globally acclaimed author, and writer and contributing columnist for NYT; son of assassinated Pakistani Politician, Salman Taseer, and a celebrated Indian journalist, Tavleen Singh.
- Ambassador Nirupama Rao, former Indian foreign secretary, and ambassador to the United States and China
- Kishwar Desai, leading Indian author and columnist. Chair of The Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, which set up the world's first Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar, India.
- Dharamacharya Shantum Seth, writer, pre-eminent Buddhist teacher and scholar, and renowned guide for Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India
- Sunita Kohli, globally acclaimed Indian heritage architecture restorer and India's leading designer and author 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 humor and wit of the region.
"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," says Indian High Commissioner, Mr. Jawed Ashraf.
"There has rarely been a more important time for cultural dialogue between India and Southeast Asia and there are few better places to host these exchanges than here in Singapore," added James Crabtree, a festival speaker and an Associate Professor of Practise of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. He is also the author of The Billionaire Raj: A Journey through India's New Gilded Age.
WORDS FROM THE SPEAKERS
"I have always loved the story of the spread of old India into SouthEast Asia. It was one of the great peaceful transmissions of culture. The Festival of Indian Arts and Ideas resurrects the spirit of that ancient contact, and I'm delighted to be part of it." - Aatish Taseer, Writer
"I am excited to be a part of FIAI because it gives me a chance to connect with the Indian diaspora in Singapore. I tell contemporary Indian stories and I think the fest is a platform for me to take India to the world, in this case, Singapore. The fest will add to the richness of Singapore's cultural scene." - Chetan Bhagat, Author
"I wish to transmit the truth that our age is not as gloomy as artists make it out to be. When writers talk about their societies and their times, there is usually a lot of lament and negativity while the world is mostly joyful and hopeful. This is one of the reasons why I find talking in Singapore interesting. Singapore, from an Indian's point of view, is Asia gone right. It appeals to the cautious capitalist in me." - Manu Joseph, Editor
"The growing interest in the meditative culture of the Buddha Dharma in Singapore, even among the youth, invites us in India to share the roots of this practice, from where the Buddha walked 2,600 years ago." - Dharmacharya Shantum Seth, Buddhist Teacher
Advance registration is recommended due to limited seating capacity. For more information on Festival of Indian Arts and Ideas, please visit https://www.theartshouse.sg/fiai. To purchase tickets please log on to https://www.apactix.com/events/detail/festival-of-indian-arts-ideas or join the conversation on www.facebook.com/theartshouse.
Festival of Indian Arts and Ideas
Venues, dates and times:
Victoria Theatre, 9 Empress Pl, Singapore 179556
Saturday, 27 April 2019, 7 to 9:30pm
The Arts House, 1 Old Parliament Lane, Singapore 179429
Sunday, 28 April 2019, 11am to 5:30pm
Saturday Standard Ticket: $80
Sunday Standard Ticket: $100
Sunday VIP Ticket: $110
For more information or images, please contact:
Arts House Limited
T: +65 6435 0176
M: +65 9180 7776
About Festival of Indian Arts and Ideas
The Festival of Indian Arts and Ideas will foster a one-of-a-kind dialogue to highlight the syncretic
culture of India through the lens of arts and literature. Singapore is the natural place to host this
festival as it understands the complexities of India while championing it's potential economically
and politically. Connectivity to India via trade, faith, food, and culture is deeply embedded in
Singapore today. The festival will seek to deepen these ties.
The inaugural festival will spotlight the ideas that both unite and divide the nation. Our speakers
will showcase their finest works with punchy stories and soul grabbing narratives of fiction,
nonfiction, history, heritage, and culture. Issues that have tested the spirit and shaken the
conscience of India will be spotlighted, alongside the irrepressible dynamism, humor, wit, and
creativity of the country. It would be a testament to what arts and ideas can do to shape a nation
About Arts House Limited
Arts House Limited (AHL) is a not-for-profit organisation committed to enriching lives through the
arts. AHL runs The Arts House, a multidisciplinary arts centre with a focus on literary programming
located in the heart of Singapore's Civic District; manages Goodman Arts Centre and Aliwal Arts
Centre, two creative enclaves for artists, arts groups and creative businesses; and presents
festivals through the arts centres. AHL presents the Singapore International Festival of Arts, the
annual pinnacle celebration of performing arts in Singapore commissioned by National Arts
AHL was set up in 11 Dec 2002 as a company limited by guarantee (CLG) under NAC and was
formerly known as The Old Parliament House Limited. It was officially renamed Arts House
Limited on 19 Mar 2014.
ANNEX A: FESTIVAL PROGRAMME
DAY 1: SATURDAY, 27 APRIL
VICTORIA THEATRE, SINGAPORE
7 PM -9:30 PM
7 PM -8 PM
Mallika Sarabhai on the power of myth in molding a civilization's identity, humanity, and politics India's foremost dancer, choreographer, playwright, and social activist
Legend. Fiesty. Committed. Courageous. Master Storyteller.
8 PM -8:45 PM
Sunita Kohli on how Indian art, architecture, design, and cuisine have shaped the subcontinent's syncretic culture Globally acclaimed heritage architecture restorer and designer, author, and cultural activist
Culture Keeper. Aesthete. Avant Garde. Cutting Edge. Contemporary.
8:45 PM -9:30 PM
Dharmacharya Shantum Seth on the art of Buddism and leading Buddhist pilgrimages in India Writer, pre-eminent Buddhist teacher and scholar, and renowned guide for Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India Enlightened.
Penetrating. Profound. Seeker. Sagacious.
DAY 2: SUNDAY, 28 APRIL
THE ARTS HOUSE, SINGAPORE
11 AM -5 PM
11 AM -12 PM
Chetan Bhagat on shaping a nation's imagination through storytelling
Blockbuster author, screenwriter, columnist and motivational speaker. Writer of eight best-selling
novels and two non-fiction books. Five of the novels adapted into super hit Bollywood films.
Phenomenon. Popular. Provocateur. Influential. Original.
12 PM -1 PM
Manu Joseph on the art of satire in politics, the value of humor, and finding your voice
One of India's most read political commentators and satirists, best-selling author, winner of The
Hindu Literature Prize literary and former columnist for The New York Times.
Irreverent. Ironic. Iconoclast. Out-of-the-box. Maverick.
1 PM -2 PM
2 PM -3 PM
Aatish Taseer on Twice born: India and Bharat
Globally acclaimed author, and writer and contributing columnist for NYT; son of assassinated
Pakistani politician, Salman Taseer, and a celebrated Indian journalist, Tavleen Singh.
Intellectual. Incisive. Outspoken. Unorthodox. Erudite.
3 PM -4 PM
Ambassador Nirupama Rao on India in the Global World Order
Former Indian foreign secretary, and ambassador to the United States and China
Strategist. Measured. Credible. Esteemed. Effective.
4 PM -5 PM
Lady Kishwar Desai on India's first Partition Museum, a site of history and memory
Leading Indian author and columnist. Chair of The Arts and Cultural Meritage Trust, which set up
the world's first Partition Museum at Town Mall, Amritsar, India.
Custodian. Historian. Persistent. Dynamic. Spirited.
Annex B: PROFILES
Mallika Sarabhai is India's leading dancers and choreographers. She is the founder of the renowned Darpana dance company in Ahmedabad. Mallika first came to international acclaim when she played the role of Draupadi in Peter Brook's The Mahabharata for 5 years, first in French and then English, performing in France, North America, Australia, Japan, and Scotland. She then created the first of her hard-hitting solo theatrical works, Shakti: The Power of Women. Since then
Mallika has created numerous classical and contemporary stage productions which have been presented in India and over 50 other countries to raise awareness of Indian culture through dance and drama and also advocate for social awareness and change.
Sunita Kohli is a globally acclaimed Indian heritage architectural restorer, interior designer and author. In 1992, she was conferred the Padma Shri by the President of India for contribution to excellence in national life in the field of Architectural Restoration and Design, and also presented the Mahila Shiromani Award by Mother Teresa. She has restored and designed leading historical heritage buildings, hotels, forts, palaces, libraries, museums and residences in India, Egypt, Bhutan, Lahore and Sri Lanka. Through her singularly unique vision and work that has been lauded by national and international political leaders, including Prime Ministers and Presidents, Sunita Kohli has helped conserve many national architectural treasures that had significantly decayed. In the capital city of New Delhi, Sunita Kohli has notably helped restore buildings designed by the famous British architects Sir Edwin Lutyens, Sir Herbert Baker and Sir Robert Tor Russell. These include the President's House, (new Viceroy House), the Parliament Building, the Prime Minister's Office and Secretariat as well as the official residence of the Prime Minister. She is also the President of India's leading design firm K2INDIA and is the former Chairperson of the School of Planning and Architecture in Bhopal. Most recently, she co-authored the highly acclaimed The Lucknow Cookbook with her mother, Chand Sur, which presented traditional cuisine as an integral part of intangible cultural heritage.
Shantum Seth is the foremost teacher and guide to the sites associated with the Buddha. A Buddhist practitioner, he is an ordained teacher (Dharmacharya) in the Zen tradition of the Vietnamese Master, Thich Nhat Hanh. He teaches in India and other countries and has been leading well acclaimed pilgrimages "In the Footsteps of the Buddha" since 1988. In the last few years he has been leading inter-faith, educational, cultural and spiritual journeys to diverse regions of India. At the same time, he has been deeply involved with social and ecological development issues for over 20 years. He is a consultant to the World Bank and the International
Finance Corporation to help promote Buddhist circuit tourism in India. He is also on the Government of India's expert committee for the Promotion of Buddhist teaching and learning (including advising on the development of the Buddhist sites for pilgrimage/tourism) and has trained Government of India and UNESCO. He has contributed to a number of books including Walking with the Buddha, I Have Arrived, I Am Home and Volunteers Against Conflict. He is presently working on a Hollywood production entitled Buddha.
Chetan Bhagat is the author of nine blockbuster books. These include seven novels -Five Point Someone (2004), One Night @ the Call Center (2005), The 3 Mistakes of My Life (2008), 2 States (2009), Revolution 2020 (2011), Half Girlfriend (2014) One Indian Girl (2016) and The Girl in Room 105 (2018) and two non-fiction titles -What Young India Wants (2012) and Making India Awesome (2015). Chetan's books have remained bestsellers since their release. Four out his five novels have been adapted into successful Bollywood films and the others are in the process of being adapted as well. The New York Times called him the "the biggest selling English language novelist in India's history". Time magazine named him amongst the '100 most influential people in the world' and Fast Company, USA, listed him as one of the worlds ‘100 most creative people in business'.
Manu Joseph is one of the most popular political and social commentators of India. He is the author of the widely acclaimed and bestselling novels, Serious Men and The Illicit Happiness of Other People, which have been translated into many languages and have been nominated for several prizes. Among other honors, he is the winner of The Hindu Literature Prize and The American Pen Open Book Award, whose jury described him as "that rare bird who can wildly entertain the reader as forcefully as he moves them". The Tamil translation of Serious Men won the Sahitya Akademi award. His most recent work is Miss Laila, Armed and Dangerous which has
won several accolades and awards. Manu is the former editor of Open Magazine and is a columnist for The International New York Times and the Hindustan Times.
Aatish Taseer is an award-winning author and contributing opinion writer for The International New York Times. He is, most recently, the author of The Twice--Born: Life and Death on the Ganges. Aatish is also the author of the memoir Stranger to History: A Son's Journey Through Islamic Lands and the acclaimed novels: The Way Things Were; Temple-Goers, which was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award; and Noon. His work has been translated into more than a dozen languages. He is the son of a prominent Indian Sikh journalist, Tavleen Singh, and Pakistani politician, Salman Taseer.
Ambassador Nirupama Rao is a former Indian diplomat, Foreign Secretary, and Ambassador to the United States. She is a global fellow at the Wilson center and counselor at the World Refugee Council Ambassador Rao was named to the Global List of the 100 Most Influential Women by foreignpolicy.com; and, has a following of 1.4 million persons on Twitter. She was India's first woman spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, the first woman high commissioner from her country to Sri Lanka, and the first Indian woman ambassador to the People's Republic of China. She served as India's Foreign Secretary from 2009-2011. At the end
of that term, she was appointed India's Ambassador to the United States where she served for a term of two years from 2011-2013. She is currently working on a book on India's China relationship, entitled Telling it on the Mountain: India and China, 1949-1962, due in June 2019. Ambassador Rao and her husband Sudhakar, have recently set up a Bangalore-based Trust called The South Asian Symphony Foundation to further the cause of peace and mutual understanding in South Asia through the medium of music.
Kishwar Desai is a leading Indian author, columnist, and historian. She is also chair of the Indian Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, which recently set up the very first Partition Museum in Amritsar, at the Town Hall next to the Golden Temple. It has become a national landmark since. Her new book, Jallianwala Bogh, The Real Story, has been critically acclaimed by national and global critics. Ms. Desai helped set up the Gandhi Statue at Westminster Square inaugurated by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former British Prime Minister, David Cameron. She is married to Lord Meghnad Desai.
James Crabtree is a Singapore-based author and journalist, and an Associate Professor of Practice at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. His best-selling book, The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India's New Gilded Age, was released in mid-2018. It was short-listed for the FT / McKinsey book of the year. Prior to academia, James worked for the Financial Times, most recently leading coverage of Indian business as Mumbai bureau chief, between 2011 and 2016. He is now a columnist for Nikkei Asian Review, and also a non-resident fellow at the Asia-Pacific programme at Chatham House.
At Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, James teaches graduate courses on leadership and communication, as well as the impact of the 2008 financial crisis. He is also a fellow at the school's Centre on Asia and Globalisation. Before joining the FT, James was a senior editor at Prospect, Britain's leading monthly magazine of politics and ideas. He has written for a range of global publications, including The New York Times, the Economist, Wired, and Foreign Policy. Prior to journalism, James was a senior policy advisor in the UK Prime Minister's Strategy Unit under Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
He has worked for various think tanks in London and Washington DC, and spent a number of years living in America, initially as a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
Shoma Chaudhury is an award-winning Indian journalist, editor, and political commentator, known for her strong but nuanced stands on national issues. In 2011, Newsweek in the US picked her as one of 150 power women ‘who shake the world'. In 2018, she was invited to deliver the Gandhi Oration in Sydney, the first Indian to do so. She has been awarded the prestigious Ernest Hemingway Award for Political Journalism, the Mumbai Press Club award for political journalism, the Ramnath Goenka award and the Chameli Devi Award for Best Woman Journalist for -in the words of the citation -"going where angels fear to tread". She has co-founded and was director of Algebra -the Arts and Ideas Club, a unique forum for critical conversation, constructed to spark new ideas and challenge perspectives. Over the past two years, she has hosted over 100 live stage events and more than 200 topnotch speakers at Algebra, from every discipline that impacts human affairs. Earlier, Shomo has been the managing editor and one of the founders of Tehelka, an iconic and highly acclaimed investigative and public interest newsmagazine, where she wrote and reported extensively on issues of justice, social equity, human rights, the media, law, and the fight over resources. Several of her stories, in defence of human rights workers falsely accused by the State, were instrumental in getting people out of jail. She also founded and was the editorin-chief of CatchNews, a digital news platform. Most recently, she has curated the India Today Group's prestigious National Conclave in Delhi.
FESTIVAL PRODUCERS AND CURATORS
Maniza Jumabhoy is the founder of Limelight Arts. It was established in 1994 and is devoted to bringing quality theatre, music, and art from India to Singapore. She is also a board member of The Arts House and the Asian Civilisations Museum, and the executive committee member of the Chinese Women's Association. Limelight Arts made its first foray into the theatre with Tumhari Amrita, starring Shabana Azmi and Farouque Shaikh and directed by Feroz Abbas Khan. Since then, it has delighted audiences in Singapore with premiere productions including Saalgirah, with Anupam and Kiran Kher, Dear Liar with Naseerudin Shah and Ratna Pathak, Bottoms Up with
Bharat Dhabolkar, Gaslight with Sanjana Kapoor, Kucch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai with Anupam Kher and Dinner with Friends to name a few. Most recently, it brought the blockbuster musical Mughal e Azam to a sold-out audience at the Esplanade Theatres. Limelight Arts is committed to helping associations with a cause and has brought in Kabeer, to raise funds for the Chinmaya Seva Centre Singapore, and Astad Deboo together with performers from the Clark School for the Deaf, to raise funds for their school.
Preeti Dawra is the founder of The Art of Communication, a strategic marketing, branding, communications, and events company. She serves as a board member of Princeton in Asia. Preeti has worked as the Head of External Relations at the National University of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. She was also an assistant speechwriter for the former President of UNDP in NYC; and Director of Strategy and Communications at Ogilvy and Mather in Singapore. She has been an advisor to the Rockefeller Foundation, NYU, and Tina Brown Live Media. For four years, Preeti wrote a regular column for Mint Asia, titled Asian Conversation, with
Asian business, political and policy leaders. Preeti has a Masters in International Relations from Columbia University, an MBA from the University of St Thomas, Texas, and a BA Economics from Delhi University. She is a student of philosophy, mythology, literature, poetry and Indian classical music, and dance.