29 Apr 2015

Community Arts in Malaysia

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Learn more about what's happening in community arts and culture in Malaysia and find network partners for projects through the Arts-ED documentation project and resource website: Community Based Arts & Culture Workers in Malaysia.

The website includes profiles of individuals and groups active in Malaysia in community arts, culture and activism projects, as well as case studies of selected practitioners and projects. There's an open invitation to join the network.

In the last 15 years or so, there has been a growing increase in Malaysia of artists moving or stepping into communities to conduct arts activities, or of activists or socially conscious individuals with a desire to contribute to communities around them, using the arts as a catalyst for change. At the same time, we at Arts-ED, have experienced a rising demand from communities, non-profit organisations and government agencies for creative and innovative ways of supporting community development. We often found it hard, though, to find people who did this type of work, and that dedicated documentation of community-based creative initiatives in Malaysia was virtually non-existent. Besides the practical need to build up our network, we also felt that the work that arts and culture practitioners did with communities was valuable and in need of recognition and study.

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This led us to initiate this project to begin the process of documentating organisations and individuals who, like us, utilise the arts and creative and innovative processes in supporting community-based development and issues. We had an early idea to create a “directory” of arts and culture workers, but found that we also wanted to learn more about the project and types of work that the practitioners we met did. What we ended up with is a small database of practitioner profiles and a set of case studies focusing on select projects and the administrators-artists who run them. We started the project in January 2014 and hope for this database to be updated regularly and to grow as more practitioners join the network.

ARTS-ED is a non-profit organisation (NPO) based in Penang, Malaysia, founded in 1999. We specialise in innovative community-based arts and culture education for young people and adult communities. We like to focus on empowering communities to develop awareness of their cultural assets through the mapping, documentation, promotion and celebration of culture. We also design and implement non-formal arts and culture education programmes for young people, conduct research-type services in cultural mapping and community consultation, produce cultural events, and publish culture-related educational materials. We work in collaboration with institutions, arts educators, artists and community activists to promote culture education at both a local and regional level.

Images: 

[top] Rakan Mantin

[bottom] Better Cities #BetterKL was initiated as a grassroots campaign to improve urban living and environment in Kuala Lumpur through creative, grassroots and participatory methods. More info