Finally, Malaysian arts sector gets some help through cultural agency Cendana


  • Arts
  • Thursday, 09 Apr 2020

Performing arts venue KLPac has been shut since the Government's movement control order (MCO) came into effect on March 18. It is one of the many arts venues in Malaysia that have cancelled shows, which in turn has severely affected the livelihoods of theatre practitioners, venue staff and freelancers. Photo: KLPac

It's a case of better late than never since it has taken more than three weeks for some form of Government agency help to arrive for the Malaysian arts and culture scene.

In an announcement made late yesterday, the Cultural Economy Development Agency (Cendana) has outlined a recovery package to benefit artists and cultural workers in the performing arts, visual art and independent music sectors.

In the statement, Cendana will first work to identify artists and cultural workers - household income of RM4,000 and below - in the Klang Valley in need of food aid. Artists and cultural workers who fall into this category can apply here.

It is understood that Cendana's private partners will be working on distributing food aid. Distribution beyond the Klang Valley will be announced soon.

Self-employed and gig workers, who make up the majority of the arts and culture scene, are among those left out, or will get little benefit, from the Government's additional RM10bil stimulus package announced on April 6 to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Cendana is also rolling out its "Create Now Funding Programme", which is an immediate response grant of up to RM1,500 per individual artist/cultural worker and RM3,500 per collective/arts organisation. It is geared up to prop up practices and operations of Malaysian artists, collectives and arts organisations during this Covid-19 pandemic.

"The goal of the programme is to cultivate and support artistic development and presentation of ideas in imaginative ways despite physical limitation to resources. It provides an opportunity to adapt arts practice, explore new ways of working and experiment with new forms/ ideas. Art forms within the realm of performing arts, visual arts and independent music are welcome to apply. Interdisciplinary projects are also encouraged as long as the core focus of the project centres around the art sectors cited. Project duration is up to eight weeks," reads Cendana's statement..

More details will be provided on Cendana's website on April 14.

Cendana, set up by the government in 2017, works to enhance the economic value of art and culture with arts funding and programmes.

Around the world, governments have stepped in to assist their respective arts and culture industries. In Singapore, S$55mil (RM167.7mil) was recently designated for the arts sector through the country's Resilience Budget. An additional S$1.6mil (RM4.8mil) was set aside earlier for a capability development grant and a subsidy scheme to reduce rental and associated costs.

On March 31, the Arts Council England also rushed out a £160mil (RM863mil) emergency fund to support organisations and individuals in the creative sector affected by the coronavirus. From that amount, £20mil (RM108mil) will be set aside for freelance cultural workers.

On March 23, Germany launched a €50bil (RM236bil) aid package targeted at freelancers, artists and small businesses. The package aims to preserve the country’s artistic and cultural industry.

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