Budget 2020: Arts and culture boost, but is it enough?

  • Nation
  • Friday, 11 Oct 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Budget 2020 has carved out some funds for the arts, culture and heritage industry, but some are wondering if it is enough, especially considering its contribution to Visit Malaysia Year 2020.

The proposed federal budget for next year includes tax exemptions of up to RM1mil for arts sponsorships by the corporate sector.

“On the basics, this sounds like a good thing, ” said Adrian Yap, founder and festival director of KL's multidisciplinary arts fest Urbanscapes.

“However, I would like to know more about how it will work with, to see if it does have a material impact on the country's arts and culture scene, ” he added.

“I think that (the tax break) sounds excellent. However, I feel that funding-wise, there could have been a lot more offered for the arts in this budget, ” said Actors Studio co-founder and Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) artistic director Joe Hasham.

Similar views were shared by the 2019 George Town Literature Festival co-director Pauline Fan.

“We do hope that this will encourage the corporate sector to increase their sponsorship of the performing arts. However, we hope that this will extend beyond just the sponsorship of events.

“I've seen that many corporations tend to sponsor just entertainment events rather than long-term programmes like (arts and culture) festivals. We need such festivals to expose and sustain a legacy of our heritage, culture and arts, ” said Fan.

In tabling Budget 2020 on Friday (Oct 11), Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng announced an allocation of RM5mil to the Cultural Economy Development Agency (Cendana) and RM10mil to community-based urban regeneration organisation Think City.

“We are very excited with the government’s commitment in the RM5mil allocation and we are determined to work together with local artists and cultural workers, public and private stakeholders and corporate partners, ” said Cendana founder and CEO Izan Satrina Mohd Sallehuddin.

She added that the allocation would go a long way towards helping Cendana establish Kuala Lumpur as an international city with a strong contemporary arts and culture foundation.

Cendana is set to launch its Art In The City programme in October, focusing on the performing and visual arts, and independent music, in small and medium capacity venues and public spaces in the Klang Valley.

“Cendana aims to shape a vibrant, sustainable and ambitious cultural economy, and to help form the identity of Malaysia as an arts destination, ” added Izan.

Think City managing director Hamdan Abdul Majeed said he welcomes the support of the continued rejuvenation of Malaysian cities with a focus on the preservation of culture and urban heritage.

He said that this is an important moment for Think City as it pivots towards the next phase of its journey, having begun as a programme in Penang 10 years ago for the renewal of the George Town Unesco World Heritage Site.

“With this continued support we look forward to continuously working with the private sector, communities and other city stakeholders to catalyse and sustain the regeneration of our cities, ” said Hamdan.

He added that he hopes that this would be the start of a sustainable programme towards supporting rejuvenation efforts in different Malaysian cities.

“This includes the Kuala Lumpur Creative & Cultural District (KLCCD), a collaborative effort with Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), ” he said.

Think City was established in 2009 by Khazanah Nasional Bhd to collaborate with local authorities, communities, institutions, private entities, and global experts to trial, plan, and implement programmes to rejuvenate cities.

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