Show organisers hope for a more biz-friendly way

PETALING JAYA: Concert and show organisers are glad that the new government guidelines on live performances by foreign stars have been clearly spelt out.

But they also hope the government will take a more “business-friendly” approach so more live events can be held to grow the industry.

Some of the industry’s concerns are the “blackout” dates, or dates when large-scale concerts and performances cannot be held, and other rules that appear to be more restrictive.

ALSO READ: Stricter rules for foreign concerts

Arts, Live Festivals and Events Association (Alife) president Rizal Kamal said the new guidelines have cleared some ambiguities from the previous version.

“This really helps us to understand and follow the rules.

“For concert and show promoters, we understand the values that Malaysia subscribes to, and we follow the guidelines as closely as possible.

“But in the right spirit, we want more concerts and live events to take place as it is good for tourism,” he said when contacted.

Rizal was commenting on the new guidelines by the Central Agency for Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artistes (Puspal).

Among others, the new additions in the guidelines are that male foreign artistes are not allowed to dress up like women when performing in Malaysia.

Large-scale concerts and live performances by international acts are also not allowed to be held on the night before Islamic public holidays and on the date of such occasions itself.

About such “blackout” dates, Rizal said there should be some allowance for events which are not related to the particular religious occasion.

For example, he said a concert which features Indian culture should be allowed to happen on a Muslim holiday.

“A concert that is considered ‘large-scale’ is not allowed to be held on these dates.

“But it’s slightly unclear what exactly this means. We need further definition to make the rules more business-friendly,” added Rizal, who is the chief executive officer of live events organiser LOL Asia.

On the rule to forbid cross dressing for male foreign artistes, he said such a guideline would mean certain acts cannot be brought to Malaysia like RuPaul’s Drag Race, which is an American reality show that expanded to Asian countries.

However, he said entertainers like Singaporean comedian Kumarason Chinnadurai or Kumar are able to perform here after following the dress code.

“Black metal bands, or any other acts that are considered too extreme, are viewed as not suitable for the Malaysia brand as well.

“But the world is full of talented people and there are still many international acts that can and want to come to Malaysia,” added Rizal.

Alife chairman Para Rajagopal, who is also the managing director of concert organiser PR Worldwide, agreed that the guidelines have more details on what can be done and not.

“But does it help to grow the industry? It’s for sure curbing some freedom of creativity, inclusivity and diversity,” he said.

Para added that Alife is hoping to have a technical meeting with Puspal to iron out key elements like how to handle the blackout dates, managing acts who support inclusivity of genders, extreme views to ban concerts and responsible media coverage on events.

The Livescape Group chief executive officer Iqbal Ameer said industry players will have to continue their dialogue with Puspal to ensure that the live events industry can remain sustainable in the long run and appeal to everyone’s goals.

On the restrictions in the guidelines, he said it is difficult for event organisers to screen through every specific show.

“As event promoters, they bring in what the fans want to see.

“So to impose these restrictions has put event promoters in a hard place to decide what is and what is not suitable. This still puts us in a continuous dialogue and to be case-by-case specific, which may deter growth,” he said.

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