Singapore beckons with art fest, bargain deals

13:30, June 03, 2010      

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Shopping malls on Orchard Road are paradise for shopaholics. (Photo: China Daily)
If you want to sample arts with a Southeast Asian flavor or if you are a shopaholic, now is the perfect time to visit Singapore.

The cosmopolitan city-state is always abuzz with activities to attract visitors all year round. Indeed, data from Singapore's National Arts Council shows a total of 29,383 arts and cultural activities were staged in 2008. However, May and June are the busiest period every year, as this is when the Singapore Arts Festival takes place.

The annual Singapore Arts Festival started 33 years ago as an event showcasing the local arts of Singapore's diverse communities. Over the years, the festival has gradually evolved to include more artists and shows from around the world.

This year's festival features performances such as Wind Shadow by Taiwan's Cloud Dance Theater, O Sounds by Singapore's T.H.E Dance Company, Nijinsky Siam by Thai dancer Pichet Klunchun and Eonnagata by a combination of French, Canadian and British performers.

The festival has become more of an international event - and one main aim of the festival is for Singapore to become a global city for the arts - but with the emphasis still on Southeast Asia, and Singapore in particular, according to Low Kee Hong, the newly appointed general manager of the festival.

"Arts is an acute reflection of identity," Low says. "Singapore's uniqueness and artistic heritage couldn't and shouldn't be sacrificed to show its cosmopolitanism."

"We really hope to make arts an integral part of every Singaporean's life," he adds.

One particular case in point is the competitions that the festival organizers hold in schools. In one contest, under-12-year-olds were asked to share tales from the East in a short storytelling format. In another, school children were asked to adapt The Great Gatsby from print to screen.

"It's difficult for children to understand literature and arts, and the schools here are only interested in practical reasons like helping them get into university to teach them this," Low says. "But they love competitions. Our hope is just that: to really engage them by holding contests."

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