Three years ago, Hana Nadira Mazlan wrote, composed and music directed a 10-minute musical at the 2015 Short and Sweet Musical Festival at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac).
The musical, called Belantara, featured an odd mix of characters from Malaysian folklore. Think of it as a Malaysian version of Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods.
She went on to win the coveted Best Composition and Best Music Director award at the festival’s gala night.
But her dream did not stop there. Hana wishes to expand her work to a full-fledged musical.
And now, with the RM20,000 grant that she received from the Cultural Economy Development Agency’s (Cendana) Emerging Artists Incubation Funding Programme 2018, she can.
Hana was among 16 other Malaysian artists from various disciplines who received this grant last week at a special presentation ceremony by Cendana in KL.
Izan Satrina Datuk Mohd Sallehudin, the founding CEO of Cendana, and Tony Pua, the special officer to the Minister of Finance, were in attendance.
“I feel supported and encouraged by this. These type of grants are important. Artists need support,” says Hana, whose theatre repertoire include Tragedi Hamlet (2016), Normal (2017) and Riwayat (2017).
Hana, who will be appearing next at this year’s George Town Festival’s Ingatan, adds that she will be using the grant to conduct research on Malaysian folklore and also to produce a stage reading of a fully-formed Belantara by early next year.
Composer Horng Kent Tham was another recipient of the grant. He says the RM10,000 grant that he received will be used to promote the appreciation and understanding of local contemporary piano compositions.
“I realised that many Malaysian piano students play mostly Western classical music. There is a gap here. There’s no awareness that we have our own composers who have very good piano works to explore and perform,” says Tham.
His project will feature selected solo piano works from Tazul Izan Tajuddin, an acclaimed composer, academician and researcher.
The Tuyang Initiative, a social enterprise based in Miri, Sarawak, also received RM10,000 to support its workshops and performances at the upcoming Yayasan Sime Darby Arts Festival in KL in mid August.
The Tuyang Initiative will be presenting a programme called The Sounds And Sights Of The Orang Ulu at the festival.
"The Sounds And Sights Of The Orang Ulu is a showcase which aims to highlight these lesser known sub-ethnic groups in Sarawak while creating awareness about their wealth in tradition, art and culture. This is a format that we hope to expand and be able to take on tour to showcase in different locations both nationally and internationally," says Juvita T Wan, co-founder of the Tuyang Initiative.
Other interesting projects to receive Cendana's support include Jeffrey Lim's Kanta Portraits, a portraiture and visual art touring initiative utilising woodbox cameras. It received RM10,000. Elsewhere, Nadia Badarudin and Arena Rekod received RM20,000. The funds will be used for a project documenting Malaysian blues music.
"With the Cendana grant, Kanta Portraits would be able to get support for trips to interiors of the country, especially the trips I am planning to the interiors of Sarawak and for a tri-state starting at Ba’Kelalan. I am also looking at collaborating with two artists, one from Taiwan and another from the locality of Miri,” says Lim, who has seen the Kanta project grow steadily since it started in mid 2011.
"The grants and the funding programme are about placing up front and centre Malaysia’s arts and culture scene," says Izan.
"It is about nurturing the smaller and more vulnerable disciplines, enabling their preservation for future generations to enjoy, both nationally and internationally,” she adds.
Besides the RM250,000 under the funding programme, an additional RM205,000 was awarded to support 10 Malaysian artists who have been given exciting opportunities to showcase Malaysian arts and culture on the international stage.
Some of the recipients of this sponsorship funding programme, utilised for touring abroad, include theatre outfit TerryandTheCuz (RM80,000) in New York, experimental musician The Venopian Solitude in Europe (RM35,000), Orang-Orang Drum Theatre in China (RM15,000) and KL Shakespeare Players (RM5,000) in Manila.
The grants have a two-fold approach. Firstly, it is to enable the beneficiaries to channel more of their time and effort in honing their selected fields to a point where they put Malaysia’s arts, culture, talent and expertise on the local and global stage. It also serves as a mechanism to foster the development of new arts in the country.
More information, visit the Cendana website.