The O.P.E.N. (Open, Participate, Engage, Negotiate) was introduced this year as the public engagement initiative preceding the highly-anticipated Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA). Styled as a popular academy, The O.P.E.N. was a place to explore fascinating questions about humanity and the world at large, under the overarching theme of Legacy and the Expanded Classic.
More than 8500 people from the ages of 17 to 75 years attended more than 30 events at the pre-festival, including 19 film screenings, five brunch talks, two performances, two concerts, two exhibitions and one beginners’ guide – taking with them an enriched understanding of world affairs, from the South African Apartheid to the proliferation of Korean pop-culture in the modern world.
By contextualising the ideas and issues being presented at the Festival next month, The O.P.E.N. successfully connected with the public in a holistic, integrated manner, thus deepening their understanding and appreciation for the arts beyond just a standalone experience.
Each of more than 30 events at The O.P.E.N. – organised under five tags which informed the Festival’s theme: legacies of violence, iconic legacies, digital legacies, personal legacies and legacies of science – was attended by an average of around 150 participants, with the overall sale of The O.P.E.N. Passes hitting a remarkable 90%.
Directed by Ong Keng Sen, The O.P.E.N. was co-curated by Noorlinah Mohamed (theatre artist and arts educator), Tan Bee Thiam (Singapore film historian and filmmaker) and Ho Rui An (artist and writer of the 89plus generation) – all of whom contributed significantly to building the initiative into one that is accessible and resonant.
With the understanding that the performing arts is about stories – from familiar stories that stem from daily emotions and transform into powerful motivations, to wider perspectives which reflect on histories to actively mold our futures – The O.P.E.N. segues into the much-anticipated Festival, which will run from 12 August to 21 September. Having played a symbiotic and catalytic role in the development of Singapore’s artistic and cultural landscape for the past three decades,
SIFA promises a stellar line-up of acts ranging from a musical on conspiracy theories about genetic cloning, to a powerful 50-hour blend of theatre with visual art referencing a country’s fight for freedom, and even a surreal revisiting of a popular children’s classic. These are just some of the legacies SIFA promises to imprint upon its audiences at the inaugural Festival this year, showcasing how our traditions are shaping the contemporary to form new classics, and underlining the indomitable human spirit that transcends borders and languages.
For more information: Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA)