Rise of the creative community

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  • Saturday, 04 Feb 2017

IT’S good to see that a group of young people have taken it on themselves to spur the growth of the creative arts in Kuching through an innovative community approach.

The local arts scene has been growing steadily with the emergence of performance and exhibition venues around town hosting an increasing number and variety of events.

While this is encouraging in itself, the HAUS KCH initiative aims to take it a step further by providing a space where individuals and groups from different artistic and creative backgrounds can meet, collaborate and showcase their work.

At the same time, HAUS is transforming a formerly abandoned building which used to be police living quarters at Capital Garden into a hub for creative and community activities.

While work to refurbish the space is ongoing, HAUS has already brought on board several partners, such as the 9Lives art collective, PhotoBorneo, Kuching Parkour, Timbre (music), Ruai Rolls Kuching (skateboarding), Makeramai (3D printing) and Eden Atelier (woodworking), and hosted a number of fundraising and performance events.

It’s an exciting and ambitious project, spearheaded by young people who have a clear vision of what they want to achieve.

In a recent interview with StarMetro, project director Syed Rusydie Syed Habib, 27, described what a typical day at HAUS would look like when it reaches full swing.

“As you walk through the gate, you’ll probably see some skateboarders training with the parkour group downstairs. As you enter the building, you’ll see us here having discussions and maybe training programmes.

“One of the spaces could be used by dancers and other performance artists, which includes theatre and spoken word. You’ll probably see a couple of people sitting in a corner by the library that we’ve amassed by then.

“Go next door and you’ll see the painters doing their thing. They’ll probably invite you to sit down and try your hand without even knowing who you are.

“Going to the top you’ll see the musicians teaching to a small crowd, the ages of which could vary from maybe seven to 70. Simultaneously, there’ll be people jamming and recording.

“Go across to the photography room and again you’ll probably be greeted very well and have your portrait taken. You will see carpentry as well upstairs, not just making tables and chairs but an exercise in creativity, so the objects on display will vary from furniture to small wooden puzzles. Hop over to the next room and you’ll see inventors and makers doing 3D printing.

“On leaving the building you can toss a seed into our garden at the back and have a tree named after you. You’ll leave wanting to come back.”

So HAUS is meant to be an accessible place, not only for artists and creative groups but for the public to observe and perhaps participate in the activities.

The idea of sustainability is also important to the HAUS team. Nazreen Mohamad, another project coordinator, said HAUS is selling merchandise – mostly stickers and badges at present – and upcycled furniture made from wooden pallets, besides holding fundraisers.

“We have a lot of (fundraising) channels and an estimate of how much we’ll get to pay off the debt and have money to grow. It’s a sustainable approach where we get to learn how to grow these things and be financially sustainable.

“At the same time it’s a great opportunity for all of us to work together and help our tenants to grow financially themselves,” Nazreen said.

It’s commendable that these young people are doing something they’re passionate about. With the ambition and enthusiasm they’ve shown so far, HAUS certainly has the potential to boost Kuching’s creative community.

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