Organised over nine days in Panjim with over 185-plus projects apart from a series of workshops and talks with 1000-plus artists participating in a series of events, 2023 witnessed the biggest edition of the Serendipity Arts Festival (SAF).
Thousands of art connoisseurs flocked to the state capital to get their fill of the myriads of sights and sounds from the world of art across the Indian subcontinent and the globe at the 6th physical edition of the festival.
Melodies floated through the warm air, accompanied by the aromas of delicious food, as visitors appreciatively watched experimental theatre, browsed through carefully curated exhibits and paintings and tasted a variety of Goan and global delicacies – all part and parcel of Asia’s largest multidisciplinary art festival.
This year’s edition of SAF was supported by the Entertainment Society of Goa, the Government of Goa, the Corporation of The City of Panaji, the Directorate of Art and Culture, Goa, the Goa Tourism Department, the Goa Forest Department and Smart City Panaji.
Over nine days, SAF 2023 aimed to catalyse cross-cultural exchange, foster collaboration, and explore interdisciplinary art forms. It provided a platform for equal opportunities, embracing artists, artisans, indigenous forms, performers, and creative practitioners from India and South Asia, fostering universally inclusive, educational, and accessible arts.
In its sixth edition, the festival’s Senses programme demonstrated inclusive art experiences, extending to audiences often excluded from the mainstream. Workshops accommodated disabilities, fostering equal participation and joy of creation for mental well-being. The festival incorporated guided tours, braille maquettes, ramps and sign language interpreters.
It also conducted a children’s programme that saw over 50 schools across Goa participate during a dedicated children’s hour in an effort to make the arts accessible and fun for the younger generations.
The programming for this edition of the festival was spread across six broad creative disciplines – visual arts, dance, music, culinary arts, theatre and craft – curated by 10 experts.
Bickram Ghosh and Ricky Kej curated the music discipline at the festival, featuring stellar performances like A Score to Remember with Ricky Kej, Lonnie Park and Keith Middleton and Rasa and Rap by Krantinaari, Wajid and Pratika.
The theatre segment was curated by Quasar Thakore Padamsee, who brought to the fore experimental theatre combining the classics and postmodern screenplays along with children’s theatre, with standout performances like Jump by Maneesh Verma and 07/07/07 by Faezeh Jalali.
Geeta Chandran and Mayuri Upadhya were the curators of the dance discipline, which featured performances like ‘Manthan: A Confluence of Kaavad Katha and Mohiniyattam’ by Divya Warrier and Akhshay Gandhi and ‘Don Quixote: A Bharatanatyam-Theatre Production’ by Shijeeth Krishna, Jyothishmathi Sheejith and Akhila Ramnarayan.
The visual arts segment was curated by Vidya Shivadas and Veeranganakumari Solanki, with notable projects like ‘Synaesthetic Notations’ featuring an ensemble of visual artists like the Aldona Video Club and Julien Segard and ‘Turning: On Field and Work’ featuring an ensemble of visual artists like Britto Arts Trust and Ohida Khandakar.
Chef Thomas Zacharias and The Locavore Team curated the Culinary Arts discipline, drawing epicureans to relish delectable offerings and gain insights into the significance of edible resources. Highlights included 'Feni Deconstructed: A Sensory Experience' by Hansel Vaz and 'The 2.7-Billion-Year Story of Chicken Xacuti' by Krish Ashok.
The crafts discipline, curated by Sandeep Sangaru and Anjana Somany, had standout exhibits like ‘Bamboo: A Way of Life - Curated Walkthrough’ and ‘Crafted Expressions: Embodied Traditions in the Indian Performing Arts’ that captured the imaginations of visitors.
The festival featured special projects such as 'Ouinch Ouinch: Happy Hype' by Ouinch Ouinch Collective, supported by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, boxout.fm, and The Embassy of Switzerland. 'An Evening of Serendipity with Zakir Hussain and Friends' curated by Zubin Balaporia, and 'The Serendipity Mercado' curated by Bhagyashree Patwardhan were notable highlights.
In addition to the 11 other venues, The Arena at Nagalli Hills saw numerous people coming in from across the world to experience vibrantly diverse musical performances.
At the closing event Sunil Kant Munjal, Founding Patron, Serendipity Arts Trust, said: “The Serendipity Arts Festival 2023 comes with a plethora of messages – especially building relationships with the people of Goa. We have tried to be inclusive by bringing school children from across the state, street children, children from orphanages, transgender communities and elders from care homes to experience the festival.”
According to Smriti Rajgarhia, Director, Serendipity Arts Foundation and Festival, “The festival, this year, has been a truly collaborative effort and we are ecstatic about its success. Our partners from France, the United Kingdom and Switzerland have been able to get such great projects in dialogue with Indian artists and projects that it feels like culture can be a diplomatic tool. We can't wait to bring new experiences to the people of Goa at next year's edition!”