Connections and communities: How art festivals benefit creators and entrepreneurs
In our final photo essay from the Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa, we share more artistic highlights and perspectives on impact.
Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 740 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festival, telecom expo, millets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.
One of the artistic highlights of the winter calendar is the Serendipity Arts Festival (SAF), which wrapped up its sixth edition in Goa recently (see our earlier coverage here). In this photo essay, we highlight more exhibits and share artistic insights on the festival’s impact on their creative journeys.
The festival featured works of more than 1,500 artists and performers, curated by a team of 10 experts. There were around 15 specially commissioned artworks as well.
“This platform has been a great learning space. It gave me strong support to confidently explore more,” Hyderabad-based artist Neetu Sam tells YourStory.
Customers shared a range of perspectives, and some genuinely came up with great collaborative ideas. “I was blessed to have met a few curators who pitched in to host my work as a solo artist show,” she adds.
“I have also been a teacher by profession for a decade, and was fortunate to have found a couple of publishers to publish my first book for kids,” Sam enthuses.
“SAF worked great for the kind of exposure it gave for my small business, and product feedback from customers,” says Ananya Rijhwani, Founder of Little Wholesome Pantry, a food startup. She earlier founded a wedding studio in Delhi (see our writeup here).
“In 2024, my aim is to be able to scale up a 100% women-only team and empower local women in Goa,” she adds, describing her plans for the year.
Riya Behl, Co-founder of Zinedabaad Collective, showcased a range of food publications and workshops. “The main anchor of our work was a crowd-sourced zine library called Potluck: The Cui-Zine Library,” she explains.
“A total of 500-600 people participated in the various layers of programming we had designed for SAF. By the last day of the festival, we had approximately 350 zines in our library,” Behl says.
“We have received the warmest of responses across the board: right from working with The Locavore to the many external collaborators we reached out to,” she enthuses. She found it gratifying to see attendees linger on in the library, attend workshops, and bring back friends and family.
Their other activities included a photo walk through Panjim Market and a Secret Supper Club session. “It was heartening to see so many people invite us to their schools, NGOs and community centres to do more workshops,” Behl says.
“We plan to do more such community-based work in rural parts of the country in 2024,” she says. Their partners include Bookworm Trust, COOJ Mental Health Foundation, and Goa Livelihoods Forum.
The exhibiting artists also offer tips for aspiring creators and entrepreneurs based on their own journeys. “What has helped us as a collective is taking our time to recognise the values that anchor our approach to our work, and using them to guide the decisions we make,” Behl recalls.
“So we recommend the same to other aspiring entrepreneurs: know your values, and let them guide you, no matter how difficult the path may seem in the moment,” Behl advises.
“Believe in yourself even when nobody believes in you, and make it your superpower. Stay true to your goals and everything else will follow,” Rijhwani adds.
“Keep up the consistency in whatever you are doing from wherever you start. It is always overwhelming when we kickstart on our own, but the journey unfolds to us more than just art in a very beautiful manner,” Sam says.
“So when the journey calls for exertion, don't give up - slow down, take it one step at a time,” she suggests.
The nine-day interdisciplinary festival also featured international artistic collaborations with countries such as France, Japan, the UK, Switzerland, Denmark, and the Dominican Republic.
These collaborations facilitated dialogue with Indian artists and projects. “I can say culture can surely be an important diplomatic tool,” observes Smriti Rajgarhia, Director, Serendipity Arts Foundation and Festival.
“We hoped to drive home the message of climate change, making public spaces more accessible and inclusive for all,” says Sunil Kant Munjal, Founder and Patron of the Serendipity Arts Foundation.
In addition to boosting culture and tourism, the festival has had an educational impact as well. “Studies show that 40% more parents are sending their children for arts education, thanks to exposure to our festival editions,” Munjal proudly signs off.
Now what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and harness your creative side for a better world?
(All photographs were taken by Madanmohan Rao on location at the festival.)
Edited by Kanishk Singh