~ The Serendipity Arts Festival 2023 continues to be an extremely accessible space for patrons with tactile and auditory installations and aids.
~ The Festival has 10 experts curating six major disciplines — Dance, Visual Arts, Music, Culinary Arts, Theatre and Craft.
~SAF 2023 will be conducted across 12 venues spread across the culturally rich city of Panaji
Panaji, December 2023– Boasting a line-up of 150-plus projects, lectures by experts and public art interventions spread across 12 venues, the highly anticipated sixth physical edition of the Serendipity Arts Festival (SAF) 2023 is back with a bang in Goa’s capital, Panaji.
One of Asia’s biggest multidisciplinary arts festivals, which is now synonymous with Goa, SAF 2023 will be held from December 15 to December 23.
“We are very proud to host the sixth physical edition of SAF 2023 in the beautiful capital city of Goa – Panaji. SAF is a major part of Goan popular culture and we hope to keep it that way in the years to come. This is the biggest edition of the Festival so far — a wonderful confluence of amazing multidisciplinary artists showcasing their talents and offering audiences immersive, lifelong experiences,” said Sunil Kant Munjal, Founding Patron, Serendipity Arts Trust.
This year the festival is supported by the Government of Goa, in partnership with the Entertainment Society of Goa and Corporation of The City of Panaji along with the Directorate of Art and Culture, Goa,, Goa Tourism Department, the Goa Forest Department, and Smart City Panaji.
The curtain raiser event was held recently in Panaji, with the Festival curators, patrons and local authorities in attendance as Goa gears up for the imminent sixth physical edition of SAF 2023.
According to Rohit Monserrate, Mayor, Corporation of the City of Panaji, Goa’s bustling capital is the perfect mix of historic and modern and therefore, the perfect place to host SAF 2023. “The city of Panjim has a history like no other. It was the first cosmopolitan city to allow different influences of culture to co-exist. Through festivals like Serendipity Arts Festival, we want to make the city the cultural capital of the country. It helps not only in bringing people and communities together but also engaging people from outside in the history of the state. Culture creates infrastructure and brings economies to the state but what it does best is build sustainable communities. I wish the Serendipity Arts Festival and Panjim a successful step towards cultural progress,” he said.
SAF 2023 will be conducted across 12 venues spread across the culturally rich city of Panaji — Art Park (16 events), Excise Building (11 events), Old GMC Complex (57 events), ESG complex (21 events), Santa Monica jetty (one event), Old PWD complex (six events), Multi-level parking (two events), Samba Square, The Arena at Nagalli Hills Ground (16 events), Promenade, Dinanath Mangeshkar Kala Mandir (eight events), Azad Maidan (one event) and more.
According to Shrinivas Dempo, SAF Patron and President, Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, SAF 2023 has put Panaji in the global spotlight. “It is wonderful that this Festival has taken place in the city of Panaji year after year. SAF has also provided ample footfalls in Panaji aiding the city’s economy, while adding heft to the city’s profile in national and international art circuits,” he said.
This year, SAF 2023 boasts more than 300 artists conducting 150-plus projects (not including workshops and talks), of which 15 are special projects and four are Serendipity Arts Foundation initiatives. All the projects curated by domain experts fall under six broader disciplines, namely Dance, Visual Arts, Music, Culinary Arts, Theatre and Craft.
Ankita Mishra, CEO, Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG) spoke about the impact of the Festival on the people of Goa. “ESG is one of the recurring venues hosting a large number of events for SAF 2023 and this year is no exception. The Festival provides Goa with regular exposure to the world of creativity, culture, heritage and a variety of art forms and caters to all age groups, from young children to professionals. SAF has made strides in achieving our vision of making Goa into an art, culture and entertainment hub on the national and international platforms,” she said.
SAF 2023 prides itself on being inclusive from the very first edition of the festival, notable in the tagline this year #ComeTogetherAtSAF. “Facilities like ramps, tactile braille artworks, braille guides, sign language experts, inclusive outreach programmes and on-ground accessibility team, are provided at the festival venues. We also strive to make our venues wheelchair-accessible,” said Smriti Rajgarhia, Director, Serendipity Arts Foundation and the Serendipity Arts Festival.
This sentiment is encapsulated in the programme ‘Senses 6.0’, India’s first ever accessible and inclusive programme curated for people with special needs specifically for a multidisciplinary arts festival. This will be the sixth edition. Over the past years, the programme has been able to reach out to and assist hundreds of children and adults with special needs to appreciate the arts at the SAF.
The Festival is free to all visitors upon registration. However, owing to popular demand, 51 projects have a nominal registration fee of Rs. 99 per head due to limited seating.
In the run-up to the Festival, the Serendipity Arts Foundation has selected four unique projects by Goa-based artists — Ruturaj Parikh, Pakhi Sen, Kalpit Gaonkar and Divesh Gadekar — granting them each Rs. 3 lakhs as part of its public art grant to create unique installations under the theme ‘The Island That Never Gets Flooded’. The Grant aims to enable Goan artists to suffuse art into the urban landscape of Panaji. Parikh’s project ‘Children’s Pavilion’ in the Art Park promotes eco-friendly resources for engaging children, Sen’s project crafts an immersive ‘bioscope’ installation focusing on Goa’s khazan lands. Gaonkar’s project is an augmented reality installation that revives ‘Kasmakaden’, a heritage site in Canacona, symbolising past-present connections and uniting villagers. Gadekar’s project ‘Panaji in My Ears’ is a sound installation that merges conchology, acoustics and Panaji’s soundscape.
The Festival has 10 expert curators this year across the six disciplines, offering attendees a wide range of programmes and exhibits to choose from. The Music discipline is curated by Bickram Ghosh, one of India’s greatest classical tabla players and a Grammy Award nominee and Ricky Kej, an internationally renowned music composer and environmentalist, with three Grammy Awards to his credit. The Dance category is curated by Mayuri Upadhya, head of Bengaluru-based premier dance organisation, Nritarutya, who wants to make dance a sustainable industry in Goa and Geeta Chandran, a leading Indian classical dancer.
New Delhi-based director of the Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art Vidya Shivadas and programme director at Space Studio, Baroda, Veeranganakumari Solanki are the curators for the Visual Arts category, while Bengaluru-based multidisciplinary designer, educator and entrepreneur Sandeep Kumar Sangaru and Art historian Anjana Somany are the curators for the Crafts discipline.
Artistic director and noted theatre personality Quasar Thakore Padamsee will curate the Theatre discipline at the festival, while Chef Thomas Zacharias and The Locavore Team will curate the Culinary Arts section.
With Goa’s rap scene riding an all-time high, one of the noted projects under the Music discipline that rap lovers can look forward to is ‘Rasa and Rap’, with rappers from across India performing. Ustad Zakir Hussain will also be performing in ‘An Evening of Serendipity — with Zakir Hussain’, a must-visit for classical music connoisseurs.
From the Culinary Arts discipline, visitors can look forward to sampling delicious feni while understanding the artisanal feni-making process through a feni distillery set up by Goa’s very own ‘feni dotor’ Hansel Vaz. Goan taste-buds are also set to be sated through numerous programmes featuring local cuisine, one of which is a ‘Culinary Workshops: Goan cooking’ session followed by a demonstration of a few dishes and an interactive session.
In the Theatre category, visitors can look forward to listening to the ‘Climate Change and Other Small Talk’ theatrical podcast that is critical to our times, especially in the wake of climate change.
In the Dance category, those who appreciate dance and culture can look forward to seeing the famous Rasa Leela from Manipur in ‘Manipuri Ras’ and literature lovers can appreciate an Indian classical music-dance-theatre take on the classic novel ‘Don Quixote’.
For those keen on sustainability, ‘Bamboo: A Way of Life’ is a project that highlights the Northeast Indian tradition of living with bamboo. In ‘Crafted Expressions: Embodied Traditions in the Indian Performing Arts’, visitors can appreciate the craftsmanship behind puppetry and costume-making.
Exhibitions in the Visual Arts category have a variety of projects that explore materiality and audience interaction, with works by Aldona Video Club and Britto Arts Trust among the works.
SAF 2023 also has several project and institutional partners, such as Institut Français (India), the British Council, Boxout FM, Japan Foundation, Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Council, Sampad, Paper Boat Collective, Art South Asia Project, JCB Literature Foundation and more.
This year, SAF adequately trains the spotlight on Goa, by showcasing not only the state’s cuisine and culture but also by inviting local home cooks to share their recipes and experiences in the collaborative partnership between the culinary incubator FIERCE Kitchens and SAF 2023, giving Goans a greater platform to showcase their skills on a broader mainstream platform.