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Despite the Covid-19 pandemic which strongly affects the social and economic situation of all of us, vOilah! France Singapore Festival 2020 will happen!

Last year’s edition met with great success after reimagining the concept of the festival based more than ever on the values of excellence, diversity and innovation. Combined with the French Film Festival, vOilah! has reached an unprecedented size with more than 50 programmes and nearly 150 events. The festival has significantly increased its impact with a wider audience: around 130,000 participants and 600,000 people reached out on social media.

Despite these unprecedented times, the 2020 edition of the festival takes place from 22 October to 22 November and brings again together French and Singaporean communities, corporates and organisations to create the space for conversation, facilitate partnerships and deepen existing collaborations in a long term perspective, perfectly consistent with the inter-governmental agreement in the field of culture signed last November between our two Ministers of Culture.

The opening of the festival will be the opportunity to commemorate the one-hundred anniversary of the visits to Singapore of Georges Clemenceau, former President of the Council, who participated to the naming ceremony of the Clemenceau Avenue on 22 October 1920. An exhibition about Clemenceau and his passion to Asia will take place in the National Museum of Singapore and the recreation of his play “The Veil of Happiness” will be performed by local actors.

By combining the opening of vOilah! with this centenary, the festival is placed under the symbolism of resilience throughout history. Due to its hybrid format, given the constraints imposed on us, vOilah! will also be an experimentation field for new event formats and will promote, more than ever, innovative collaborations between our two countries.

This year again, there are about 50 programmes covering culture, education, science and lifestyle and expressing France’s true friendship with Singapore in good times as well in hard times. Among them, a exhibition+lecture showcased the influence of plants, gardens and spices from Singapore to French art de vivre, a virtual reality exhibition to rediscover paintings from French masters, several concerts of classical, baroque and electronic music specifically performed for the festival and the first edition of the virtual “Choose France! Education Fair”.

I am particularly grateful to all the partners of the 2020 edition of vOilah! France Singapore Festival and I sincerely thank Sharon Au and Ivan Heng to be the patrons of this edition of the resilience.

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Singapore and France share a friendship underscored by strong people-to-people ties and many years of close cooperation across various sectors. This deep relationship has opened up various opportunities for collaboration between our artists, museums and cultural institutions, and has contributed to a deeper appreciation of our respective cultures.

The annual vOilah! France Singapore Festival is a much-anticipated event in Singapore’s cultural calendar. It has been a longstanding platform that showcases the partnerships between Singapore and French institutions and artists in arts and culture. vOilah! 2019, in particular, was memorable as it celebrated several anniversaries between Singapore and France, including the 30 years of collaboration in heritage, and the 35th edition of the French Film Festival, to name but a few.

While COVID-19 has hit the global cultural and creative sectors hard, it has also spurred cultural institutions and practitioners to innovate and transform, creating new experiences for audiences. I am pleased to note that the organisers of vOilah! 2020 have explored innovative approaches, including digital presentations of programmes. This will help to bring the festival offerings to a wider audience, both locally and internationally.

vOilah! is a testament of the friendship between Singapore and France, one that perseveres in good times and bad. I am confident that it will continue to showcase the best of French culture, with its exciting and varied line-up of programmes.

I wish you a wonderful time at vOilah! 2020!

Edwin Tong
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth
Second Minister for Law

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Bonjour tout le monde!

This has been an unprecedented period of intense anxiety and disruption across all industries, and the arts especially had taken a heavy toll. Hence, I am elated to lend my voice to vOilah! France Singapore Festival 2020, and to be a part of this cultural heritage exchange that thrives between our two countries. Although grand festival events and red carpet may no longer be possible, but nothing should stop us from sharing the charm and finesse of French culture and arts.

I currently reside in Paris, having moved here three years ago. We too experienced a two months country-wide confinement from March to May this year, during which only essential shops were allowed to remain open, namely, supermarkets and boulangeries. A week into the lockdown, President Macron announced that not only was food for the body important to the people, food for the soul was equally critical to a civilization. What followed was that bookshops were given the permission to resume business, as long as rules of social distancing were observed. This was what struck me the most, that when life is stripped to the bare minimum, bread and books are all we need. After all, “culture is what remains, when everything else is forgotten” French statesman Edouard Herriot once wrote. Indeed, in the most robust economy, the market provides everyone with everything, except the power to determine what people should value. It is thus heartening to see culture held at such high regards, especially in times of crisis.

Back in our literary and philosophical past, only a small percentage of people had the privilege to be exposed to great traditions of arts and intellect. Now we are fortunate to live in a world where the cultural divide is no longer as deep, where global communities come together on creative platforms, where thinkers reunite for meaningful dialogues. Culture should travel, even when we can’t.

De gustibus non est disputandum. I look forward to the calendar of great works in this year’s vOilah! Festival, and meeting all of you through the upcoming online activities.

Let’s safeguard the future of our arts and innovation together.

Mes meilleurs sentiments,

Sharon Au

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I am honoured to be invited by the Embassy of France to be Patron of the 2020 vOilah! France Singapore Festival, commemorating the continuing partnership between French and Singaporean communities and a celebration of the best of both culture’s creativity and innovation. It is especially heartening to see that the festival is proceeding in spite of these unprecedented times.

I am deeply grateful for the opportunity I had to direct “La Voix Humaine”, Francis Poulenc’s one-act opera based on Jean Cocteau’s play of the same name. Working on it inspired everyone involved in the show, and experiencing it powerfully resonate with audiences affirms my belief in the capacity of good art to bring people together across the borders of time, language and culture.

Whilst the coronavirus pandemic has led to increased feelings of anxiety and isolation, the arts have proven to be a source of motivation and joy. Harnessing technology to experiment and innovate, artists are enabling people all over the world to foster new connections and deepen existing ones. On that note, I am excited that Wild Rice will be supporting the centennial commemoration of Georges Clemenceau’s visit to Singapore in 1920 through the recreation of his play “The Veil of Happiness”. This is a historic occasion for France-Singapore relations, and it is wonderful that Wild Rice can play a part in its momentous celebration.

Even as travel continues to be prohibited and cross-border interactions seemingly take a pause in the current crisis, culture and the arts are an excellent way to maintain relationships between people. vOilah! serves as one such platform to bring different communities together, providing an opportunity to celebrate the beauty of diversity even in the midst of a crisis.

I am delighted to see the marvellous programme that has been put together for the 2020 vOilah! France Singapore Festival and I wish it the utmost success!

Mr Ivan HENG
Founder and Artistic Director, Wild Rice
Cultural Medallion 2013


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