With the country recording 11, 079 new Covid-19 cases on (Tuesday) July 13 (the first time it has reached five figures), it looks like the performing arts and creative industry is nowhere near to recovery road.
Theatres and performing arts venues have been shut for over two months now. The recent open letters from KLPac and PenangPac pleading for some form of arts recovery plan (the chance to resume in-house recordings) highlighted their bleak financial situation. Donations from the masses, who still care about the arts and culture community, has been forthcoming. But it won't be enough.
Food aid support for certain quarters in the performing arts scene is also now essential for their survival. Arts organisations such as Cendana (Cultural Economy Development Agency) and Pusaka have worked on food aid missions nationwide. Many other independent arts communities have played their roles, including community arts portal Eksentrika, which created a "White Flag" directory for those in the arts scene who are badly impacted by the pandemic.
Recently, a newly formed creative collective Delegasi Anak Seni (DAS) has joined in to support local arts. It hopes to spread much needed love and care with the Apa Khabar Anak Seni hashtag.
It's mission - simple and direct - is to check in on local arts practitioners and find out how they are coping with #ApaKhabarAnakSeni. The hashtag, featuring two clasped hands against a yellow background with the question "Apa Khabar Anak Seni?", has been making its rounds on social media.
This goodwill initiative by DAS has been supported many arts practitioners, who have been sharing the hashtag with their personalised encouraging and supportive posts.
“The point of this initiative is to show that we care for each other and reach out to everyone.
“This is important as every single creative industry person has been greatly affected by the pandemic from various angles such as health, mental health, financial, careers and so on, ” says the DAS collective in a statement.
“So far the response has been positive with people from the creative industry voicing out on their own platforms of our intention - to reach and to help those in need, ” it continues.
Using the hashtag #ApaKhabarAnakSeni, DAS hopes that more creative industry workers will be able to connect with each other as well as to raise public awareness about how the local arts industry is close to collapsing.
Actress Sharifah Amani posted a rallying cry on her Instagram page, encouraging practitioners to share their works for all to see and hopes, in the process, this would lift people’s spirits.
Theatre veteran and Instant Cafe Theatre’s co-founder Jo Kukathas joined in and shared a heartfelt post on her Instagram page.
“Hope you are hanging in there. I know you’ve been mostly ignored or forgotten in the last year and more... If you have friends who are anak seni check in on them ok? It’s been hard on everyone I know. But today spare a thought for your friends in the arts, ” wrote Kukathas.
With much of the country still under the first phase of the National Recovery Plan (NRP), performing arts venues are still closed and recordings are still not allowed.
Performances, without a live audience, will only be allowed under Phase Three of the NRP.