Invest in creative economy

(From right) A worker showing the process of printing batik as Lim (also inset), Yeoh, Ashwin and others look at the Balik Pulau Craft Incubator Centre in Penang. - Photos: LIM BENG TATT/The Star

CREATIVE economy can help transform existing cultural and heritage assets into one which can generate revenue for businesses and for the state, said state tourism and creative economy committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin.

He said creative economy can be one of the main pillars of economic development in the state.

“In long term, it can promote sustainability and ensure continuity for traders as well.

“With the correct initiatives, I am positive that the art and cultural aspect will not lose its historical roots, nor be pushed aside and forgotten for years to come.

“I will focus on further growing the creative industry and making it a sustainable part of Penang’s economy, as well as maintaining it as Penang’s unique identity.

“It is important to invest in sustainable creative enterprise development like inducting local learning and innovation, because without them, there will be no new talents or new firms of creativity.

“Besides, creative economy will sustain and promote Penang’s identity while generating income and thus, contribute to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP), ” he said during a courtesy visit to the Batek-Lah Collection production workshop at the Balik Pulau Craft Incubator Centre recently.

The Balik Pulau Craft Incubator Centre is a place for artisans and craft entrepreneurs to create and develop their art.

It currently houses two incubatees and three Kraftangan Malaysia-registered craft entrepreneurs.

Yeoh added that Batek-Lah Collection produces batik cloth in-house.

“The processes start with traditionally designing and drawing the cloth, right up to filling it with beautiful colours before being brought over to shops to sell.

The printed batik cloth being stirred in hot water. The printed batik cloth being stirred in hot water.

“The tedious process of making it is often overlooked, thus justifying the price charged for the cloth for its unique one-of-a-kind designs, ” he said.

Yeoh said tourism is one of the best ways to promote creative art.

“It can be a source to generate income for the state as well as our artists.

“Due to the rise in positive Covid-19 cases, the number of tourists has decreased.

“However, I am confident that when the Covid-19 curve is flattened, the tourism industry will experience a V-shape recovery, ” he told reporters at a press conference after the courtesy visit.

Penang Convention and Exhibition Bureau (PCEB) chief executive officer Ashwin Gunasekeran said his bureau hoped to provide first-hand and hands-on activities for visitors to have an experiential travel.

“The business event industry for Penang not only focuses on just promoting the capacity of our destination, we also include the local players in the arts, culture and heritage to enhance a complete experience.

“We hope that through this visitation, our industry partners would be able to consider the Balik Pulau Craft Incubator Centre as a unique event space to conduct small experiential workshops for batik painting and other creative crafts, ” he added.

Meanwhile, Batek-Lah Collection sole proprietor and owner James Lim, 35, said he is the second generation of his family involved in batik business.

“I will try my best to carry on and continue this dying art besides promoting it as much as possible to sustain the culture.

“We have to always keep the designs up-to-date to fulfil the contemporary taste and needs of our customers.

“We organise batik making classes, both indoors and outdoors.

“We hope that more people can understand the difficulty in producing batik cloth and thus, appreciate and value the art, ” he said.

Also present were Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) national vice-president Khoo Boo Lim, MAH Penang Chapter acting chairman K. Raj Kumar and Penang Island City councillor Lee Wei Seang.

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