Ensure RM100mil fund is distributed fairly, says arts industry

Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah

PETALING JAYA: While local arts and creative industry players have hailed the RM100mil allocation under the Pemulih package as timely, they are concerned about how the fund will be disbursed among them.Persatuan Seniman Malaysia said it was grateful for the effort announced by the Prime Minister under the National People’s Well-Being and Economic Recovery Package (Pemulih) as part of the country’s National Recovery Plan (NRP).

The association said it would monitor the fund’s distribution.

“We want the fund to reach those in need and provide some relief as we are not allowed to operate.

“The fund and various other allocations by the government will be meaningless unless we can resume filming.

“We are willing to adhere to the SOP, which we have done previously without any problem, ” it said in a statement.

Under Pemulih, RM100mil has been allocated in the form of loan facilities and financial assistance that will benefit more than 8, 000 people in the local arts and creative industry, which has been hit hard by the pandemic.

At a press conference yesterday, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the RM100mil allocation would be used to continue the programmes launched under the Malaysian Creative Industry Stimulus Package (Prisma) early this year.

He said the fund would benefit everyone involved in creative fields such as music, television, film and theatre, adding that some 35, 000 jobs would be created.

“There is still leftover funding in Prisma which we plan to give out until December. With the additional amount, we will double our efforts to support the industry to create high-quality productions, ” he added.He also said his ministry had spoken to the National Security Council about letting filming resume as many in the industry had been left jobless.

“But because we are still in Phase One of the NRP, it is difficult to get approval. We are hoping that when we get to Phases Two and Three, we’ll have a little leeway to start filming again, ” Saifuddin added.

Ang Yue May, KLPac’s head of marketing communications, said although they appreciated the allocation, they were unsure about how it would help them due to a lack of details.

“Who are the 8, 000 people? We hope that (performing arts) venues will not be left out. Most of the grants are tied to programmes and productions which do not help when we cannot even reopen.

“Above all, grants and assistance should take into consideration our needs. We can’t even pay salaries and cover overheads for June and July, let alone think about programmes and productions, scaling up, new initiatives and more, ” she said.Earlier this month, KLPac launched a donation drive to raise RM130, 000 to cover salaries and utilities for June and July.

Datuk Norman Abdul Halim, chief executive officer of KRU Entertainment, said the additional fund from Pemulih for content production woud create more job opportunities for production houses, equipment rental companies, caterers, cast and crew members.

But he noted that the main issue the industry faced right now was getting its workers inoculated soon.

“If we can vaccinate about 10, 000 industry professionals, we will be able to start work again and hopefully do domestic cross-border filming, ” Norman said.

Hisham A. Karim, an executive producer at Radius One, said fewer than 30% of his team members and only a few among the crew who did location work had been vaccinated.

According to him, due to the restrictions on filming locations, many adjustments had to be made to the scripts.

“If you watch any new drama, there are no outdoor shots so it doesn’t look very attractive, ” he said.

In a statement on June 17, the National Film Development Corporation (Finas) said it hoped to become a vaccine dispensing

centre for creative industry professionals.

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