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By Ariane Combal-Weiss - Political, Press & Information Section, EU Delegation to Singapore
As the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) 2017 is about to commence, the EU Delegation to Singapore looks back on the conversation EU Member States had with its Festival Director, Ong Keng Sen. He was the first guest of EU’s new “Conversation With” series.
2017 marks the 60th anniversary of the European Union.
For 60 years, cultural diversity has been celebrated as a key guiding principle of the European project and as a unique driver for peace, both within EU’s borders and beyond.
For 60 years, the European Union has ceaselessly promoted culture and the diversity of cultural expressions as unique channels to strengthen its partnerships across the world.
Culture has the potential to travel beyond borders and to nurture dialogue, mutual respect and understanding between peoples. As such, the EU Strategy for International Cultural relations adopted last year shows EU’s pledge to put cultural diversity at the heart of its external action and to deepen its cultural ties with partner countries. In a bid to implement EU’s new guidelines on Cultural Diplomacy, the new series of conversations with key figures of the local artistic community was launched in March 2017 to reinforce the cultural dialogue between the EU and Singapore.
The EU Delegation to Singapore together with EU Cultural attaches and members from the Singapore's vibrant artistic community welcomed their first guest, Ong Keng Sen, director of Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) and TheatreWorks – an established theatre company. He presented the various theatre productions he has been involved in across the world.
His rich and varied productions show his long-standing and enduring commitment to connecting Europe and Asia through intercultural theatre. He addresses many contemporary issues which are consistent with EU’s top priorities - the respect for cultural diversity and inclusivity.
In his lively 60-minute presentation Ong elaborated also on the trajectory of SIFA since he became the Festival Director in 2014, before outlining the highlights of the current edition, which runs from June 28 to September 9.
For this year, the curatorial theme is ‘Enchantment’, as “enchantment is an antidote against populism, alienation, injustices, excessive rationality and control,” says Ong.
This is a theme that particularly resonates in today’s charged global context.
This stimulating conversation created an intimate platform where a leading voice of the local arts community and the EU Member states got an insightful look into the role of artists in the contemporary world.
It was a fitting opportunity to deepen our long-standing cultural ties. It also provided a networking platform for cultural attaches from the EU Member States to consider and discuss future collaborations with their Singaporean counterparts, thus paving the way for a stronger EU-Singapore cultural dialogue.
Launched in March 2017 by the European Union Delegation to Singapore, Conversation With is a new series of conversations with leading names from the local arts community. It intends to offer a platform for dialogue between key players from the Singapore and international arts scene, and cultural attaches from EU Member states.
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