In the hot seat to drive Malaysia’s cultural economy


Izan Satrina Mohd Sallehuddin is the founder of Malaysias Cultural Economy Development Agency (Cendana), which aims to enhance creative arts and culture in the country.

IT is barely two years old, but this agency is already making an economic impact through arts and culture.

This is just one of the achievements by Cendana, Malaysia’s Cultural Economy Development Agency, set up by the government in 2017 to enhance the economic value of art and culture in the country.

And nobody is prouder of its successes than its founder and CEO, Izan Satrina Mohd Sallehuddin.

“Our mandate is to develop the cultural economy of Malaysia, which is a relatively new concept to the nation. The three main sectors we focus on are visual art, performing arts and independent music. With our amazing and passionate team, it’s been a pretty exhilarating journey,” remarks Izan Satrina, who says that Cendana has already delivered RM37mil in economic impact.

So far, Cendana has also supported 210 artists through funding programmes and upskilled more than 1,000 industry players through various workshops.

It has also promoted Malaysia to more than 10 countries including Singapore, Indonesia, Hungary, Japan, Australia, USA and Germany.

While the number of women in top ranking posts in Malaysia isn’t ideal yet, Izan Satrina feels that it has been improving, especially in recent years.

“There’s an increase in the number of women assuming leadership roles, playing an important part in the betterment of society and voicing out their thoughts freely at all levels.

“We are becoming increasingly confident, empowered and connected,” she says.

For Cendana, Izan Satrina reveals that female hires within the team and its Industry Advisory Panel currently stand at over 70%.

“I’m proud of this as it provides an opportunity for female voices to be heard and to make waves in the industry.

“We shouldn’t be focusing if the numbers are enough, but rather on educating and encouraging women to pursue what they wish to.

“They should be free to achieve their set goals,” adds the mother of a nine-year-old boy.

As a mother and CEO of an agency, having work-life balance is important and Izan Satrina’s advice to working mothers is to love the challenges – the good and the bad.

“Striking the right balance for work and life is tough as it involves learning and understanding yourself.

“Don’t rush your way through; love and enjoy every phase of life,” she says.

And ultimately, Izan Satrina says women should always believe in themselves and make the best out of everything they do.

“No voice is too small to make a difference,” she adds.

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