From the Desk of the Festival Director: Arts for All

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From the Desk of the Festival Director: Arts for all

Accessibility, and therefore inclusiveness, is a key objective starting with performances in the schools, as well as folding in the lesser-served segments of society.

We also programme large shows with no entry cost, especially at the iconic Panggung Anniversary, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, and at the KTM train station platform, which turned a century old last year, resulting in three out of four visitors seeing an event for free during the year.

We commissioned a storytelling version of Macbeth for primary schoolchildren by the extremely talented KL Shakespeare Players, which toured schools with the generous sponsorship of Yayasan Hasanah. It was insightful to see that the vernacular — Chinese and Tamil language — schools scored higher on the quizzes than some identified as Excellence Cluster/Trust schools. We are delighted the children understood such a complex play and could clearly describe “adult” emotions such Lady Macbeth’s guilt.

A parent of a special-needs child wrote that her child “has speech, language, and comprehension difficulties. I mean, he has trouble understanding cartoons. But he understood EVERYTHING about the play. Not only did he fully understand the plot of Macbeth, he understood the messages, morals and meaning behind the story”.

And we do all of this year in and out with no full-time staff — everyone involved in the festival is a volunteer, part-timer, consultant or adviser.

Festivals around the world, such as in Sydney, Edinburgh and Kuching, have been and are being supported by the government and private sector as a means of drawing visitors into a specific locale to spend money while enjoying themselves.

We are just over two months away from the launch of the fourth edition of this landmark festival but the seed funding from the government has not yet been confirmed. I am hopeful that the fresh new thinking of our leaders will recognise and support such a major initiative with multiple benefits to the rakyat, and perhaps even extend the potential and opportunities.

I have been volunteering at the festival since the beginning and am in my fifth year of involvement. I am filled with hope that even more lives will be touched with this powerful medium of non-verbal communication that brings the hearts of all Malaysians and visitors to this country closer to themselves and to each other.

This is an excerpt from KLIAF Festival Director Datin Sunita Rajakumar’s article in The Edge on 29 July 2018.

 

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