Over eight days between 15th to 23rd December 2022, the city of Panaji resonated with the sights, sounds and myriad moods of the arts from across the South Asian region and the globe. Strains of music filled the air while discerning audiences watched experimental theatre, browsed books and paintings that showcased the region’s cultural heritage, celebrated with artists and revelled in the immersive experience of the fifth physical edition of the Serendipity Arts Festival.
Organised for nine days and spread across 14+ venues with over 170+ projects, and more than 1000 artists, the Serendipity Art Festival was held in association with GMR and supported by the Government of Goa, the Corporation of The City of Panaji, the Directorate of Art and Culture, Goa, the Entertainment Society of Goa, the Goa Tourism Department, and the Goa Forest Department, along with Technology partner Microsoft and Logistics Partner Delhivery.
The programming for this edition was spread across Exhibitions, Performances, Workshops, Public Arts, Children’s programming, Talks & Book launches, and much more.
The Exhibition segment was curated by Sudarshan Shetty, Veerangana Solanki, Anjana Somany, Pramod Kumar KG, with special projects like Somewhere Ethereal by Mathieu Wothke and Terra Nullius: Excavations from Image 3.0 by Pascal Beausse and Rahaab Allana, along with Goa Familia by Lina Vincent and Akshay Mahajan.
The music performance segment was curated by Bickram Ghosh and Ehsaan Noorani, who brought music from the far corners of the country and the world and experimented with its forms, causing powerful fusion performances. Quasar Thakore Padamsee, brought to the fore experimental theatre combining the classics and the postmodern screen plays along with children’s theatre in collaboration with Ranga Shankara’s “AHA! “Theatre for Children. Geeta Chandran and Mayuri Upadhya, curated a wide set of projects that had re-adaptations of Indian classics, contemporary themes and cultures.
The festival used insights gleaned over the pandemic and introduced productions that were a blend of the digital and physical worlds. Through the Senses programming, the festival showed how art could be experienced and accessed by all; it reached out to audiences who usually get left out of the mainstream. For example, workshops were designed in a way that regardless of their disabilities, people could equally participate and engage in various creative activities; this ensured relief and ensured mental well-being, through the joy of creation. The festival also included guided tours, braille maquettes, ramps, and sign language interpreters.
Ms. Smriti Rajgarhia, Director, Serendipity Arts Foundation and Festival, said, “We are delighted to see and hear about the impact the festival has had in people’s lives and we are glad we are playing our part in spreading the magic of the arts. The festival would not have received its shape and form without the support of our curators, the artists and the contributions by the teams and our patrons. They are helping us edge towards our goal of making Panjim the cultural hub of the world.”
The audience was left spellbound after watching The Money Opera; an immersive theatre production created as a site-specific project commissioned by Serendipity Arts Foundation. The show was conceptualised and directed by Amitesh Grover and housed in a 5-story abandoned building; it contained songs and stories of ambition, guilt, fear, desire, love, community, and many others that reveal the nature of contemporary society—what it keeps hidden, oppressed, and buried. On the final day, the sunset cruise, River Raag, curated by Bickram Ghosh, featured Shaoni Mojumdar singing Thumri, accompanied by Raya Korgaonkar in Harmonium and Abir Mukherjee in Tabla.
There were many footfalls for the Silent Art Workshop: Just Do Nothing! an unprecedented workshop that encouraged participants to do nothing and sit in stillness. It was a fascinating experiment that taught audiences how to let silence surge softly around us while introspecting. The Serendipity Arts Festival Finale featuring Amit Trivedi had the audience swaying and singing his hits like Fitoor, Sham Hai koi, Zinda from the film Lootera and all the other incredible numbers, along with the stupendous singer-songwriter his co-singers and band. A befitting grand finale!
In addition to the thirteen other venues, The Arena at Nagalli Hills saw numerous people
coming in from across Goa, the country, and the world to experience the many seminal acts.
At the closing event, Mr. Sunil Kant Munjal, Founder & Patron of Serendipity Arts and the
Founder of THE BRIJ, congratulated the curators and artists for their part in putting
together an unprecedented fifth physical edition. He thanked the 300 plus dedicated
volunteers from across educational institutions of Goa and across the country. “The Festival
in its fifth physical edition has superseded our expectations and we are delighted to see the
support we have received from our curators, the creative community, the authorities, and the
people of Goa. We are glad that we could come back with an interdisciplinary festival like
Serendipity that supports and creates opportunities and avenues for the arts and the artists
of the entire region of South Asia and the world, through collaborations and exchanges,” he
He also referred to plans of a permanent residence for the region’s creative
expressions: “We are also happy to announce that the arts and culture of our region will
have a permanent home with the THE BRIJ, which will retain the aura of the flagship festival
while adding multiple layers of practice, learning and experimentation to its programs,
around the year. Planned around diverse creative practices, the facility will have arts
education, incubation labs, centres of cultural innovation, performance spaces, and
museums at a never-before-seen scale, in an interdisciplinary manner. In effect it will be the
complete ecosystem for Arts & Culture at one place.”
As the curtains come down on the fifth physical edition, the 365-day countdown for the sixth edition has begun.
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