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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Arts fest's new business edge

Creative entrepreneurship is the new theme
The Business Times - June 24, 2011
By: Natalie Koh
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Arts fest's new business edge

AFTER disappearing for a year,Asia On the Edge (AOTE) is back, but in almost unrecognisable fashion with a new organiser and different agenda.

Gone are the keynote celebrity speakers that gave its inaugural 2008 festival a starry edge, and the emphasis on multidisciplinary arts like design, fashion and food in its sophomore edition.

Originally billed as a festival to foster a deeper understanding of Asia through the arts, AOTE now has a double-barrelled theme that combines arts as well as creative entrepreneurship. Regenerating Communities will showcase two performance groups and one visual artist, while Generating Ideas is a series of talks and workshop sessions aimed at regional entrepreneurs.

Spearheding this new direction is Asian Culture Enterprise Singapore (Aces), a subsidiary of The Arts House, which organised the previous editions. Aces has headed other initiatives such as Spotlight Singapore and CausewayExchange that aim to develop cultural relations with other countries.

Says Lyndon Yeo, director of Aces: 'We're trying to add a commercial element into this year's festival because we realised that brands have used Asia On The Edge as a platform to enter into the Singapore market.'

Mr Yeo reveals that the festival skipped its 2010 appearance as they wanted to 'consolidate' it into this year's business-strong edition that makes AOTE a bigger platform for more regional entrepreneurs to launch into the local market.

Under Generating Ideas, AOTE will feature creative entrepreneurs of the region, such as Indian film legend, Kamal Haasan; Dinh Ba Thang, the founder of DatVietVAC Group Holdings of Vietnam, a pioneer in developing the media industry in Vietnam; and Jay Aldegeur, founder and group chairman of The Islands Group of the Philippines, which is involved in a wide spectrum of business concepts ranging from tourism to housing.

This is in hopes of growing 'business through the arts by supporting the participants involved. We provide business opportunities through networking sessions over the festival duration. And judging from the talks and pre-discussions we've had, I'm sure that the business component will be around in future editions,' Mr Yeo says.

Yet the cultural aspect still underpins the festival, he says. As such, all the 150 delegates, whether from Singapore or other parts of Asia, are from the creative industry such as media, film, design and television.

Meanwhile, the three arts groups taking part in will be: Siong Leng Musical Association from Singapore, the Gawad Kalinga Tatalon Performing Arts (GK-Tapa) that comprises children picked up from the streets in the Philippines and given voice lessons and Indonesian artist Agus Ongge, who specialises in the unique art of Kombouw tree bark painting, a traditional art form passed down for generations.

As to why the arts aspect of the festival has been downplayed, Mr Yeo explains: 'We always wanted to look at how we could sustain the arts through long-term investment. The first year was more exploratory and purely arts, but things began to turn in the second year,' which was where they noted a few companies using AOTE to enter the local market.

How do the business and arts sides of the festival come together then?

He says: 'We want the business community to look at the performers and think there is something worth investing - to help them realise their dreams and visions, in whatever forms.'

Asia On The Edge is on June 24 and 25 at The Arts House. Two-day passes cost $45 and can be purchased from www.bytes.sg

 

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