Bold, brilliant and beautiful—this year’s SMU Arts Festival promises to be like no other. Bursting forth in a flurry of colours and performances, it’s once again time for SMU’s annual Arts Festival. Like the intoxicating smell of freshly brewed coffee or the sharp zest of a freshly plucked lemon, this year’s theme, FRESH, brings new and exciting experiences that redefine traditional art forms.
Held on the 2nd to 16th September, spectators get to discover innovative new ways of photography and indulge in a night of original compositions in our songwriting showcase. Choreograph your own dance sequence in a street dance workshop, and pen your thoughts through doodles with our Band of Doodlers.
As we anticipate the next two weeks of activities, we chat with Jolyn Seet, President of this year’s organising committee to get a sneak peek into what goes into preparing for the big day.
1. What can we look forward to this year that’s different from last year?
This year, SMU Arts Festival is coming back bigger and better. We have over 30 events staged by more than 500 students and alumni, over a period of 14 days. Besides, many clubs are collaborating with each other to deliver their take on what “FRESH!” is all about. We even have a festival stage located at SMU U-Square where you can expect some of these exciting performances. We also have our festival weekend where you can expect exciting workshops at our activity hub which will be fun for families too.
The organising committee has also helped to streamline the ticketing process by making it automated with the help of Apactix, which has allowed us to offer discounts and bundle deals to encourage greater patronage to our festival. Apart from that, we also have the privilege of working with a lot more partners this year such as Mum’s Kitchen, The Escape Game, Singapore Arts Museum and 7KickStart Museum Café, just to name a few.
2. What got you into organising this year’s arts festival?
As the Vice-President of the SMU Arts and Cultural Fraternity, I see the importance of the SMU Arts Festival to the fraternity. This is a good avenue to pool clubs together to collaborate and work closely with one another. This will not only foster club relationships, but also strengthen the sense of identity and cohesion within the fraternity.
Personally, the SMU Arts Festival holds a special place in my heart as I was part of the Programmes (Performance) Team, organising the very first SMU Arts Festival in 2015. The experience humbled me as I not only managed to contribute to such a large scale event, but also got to learn so much more about how diverse and dynamic the arts scene in SMU is. I am glad to be part of something so much greater than myself.
3. What inspired this year’s theme of “fresh”?
For this year’s festival, we hope to bring something different, and to experiment with the unconventional. We want to redefine the boundaries of traditional art forms and bring the audience bold and new experiences through an experiential journey of possibilities. This led to this year’s theme of “FRESH!”—Think Different, Feel FRESH!
4. How do you curate the performances and showcases for the festival?
We went through a curatorial process for all club proposals for the festival. Clubs first submitted their proposed events for the festival. We wanted the events happening during SMU Arts Festival to embody the element of freshness since our theme was “FRESH!”. We also reviewed the dates and locations of the various events to ensure the events happening would not overshadow but instead complement each other. With this, we personally sat down with each club, and went through their proposal, exploring and expanding their ideas. This led to the events we will be presenting to you for the upcoming festival.
5. What was it like organising such a huge festival?
It was a very humbling experience where you get to see so many different passionate individuals (Organising Committee, Arts Cluster of SMU’s Office of Student Life to the Arts and Cultural Fraternity) come together to make this event work. Plenty of teamwork and communication came into play throughout the planning of the festival as many stakeholders were involved. Moreover, I also learned that being flexible and adaptable is very important as things may not always work out the way we want them to, and change is the only constant throughout this planning process. We need to quickly adapt to new situations in order to progress in the planning of the festival.
6. How do you reach out to people who are not familiar with what goes on in the arts scene in SMU?
We have various platforms to reach out to them such as through our website, and our Facebook and Instagram. We also have various marketing platforms such as pillar banners, numerous festival guide distribution channels and even planned outreach to schools. This year, we also have in place Festival Ambassadors who are passionate about the arts in and outside of SMU. They will be sharing their experiences and thoughts about the preparation as well as the various events at SMU Arts Festival through their social media platforms.
7. What do you hope to achieve at the end of the day with this year’s showcases?
My hope for the festival is that people can personally experience the freshness of our events and understand why we are different from the rest. I also hope that the people who attend our festival will be able to form a personal bond with the festival and come back to celebrate the arts together with us year after year. Overall, I hope the festival will continue growing to be bigger and better year after year as we take baby steps in improving this festival as a whole.