Catalyst for creative world

OVER the last five years, May 29 has had a special significance for Malaysia’s performing arts community, including film and theatre actors and singers. The day is designated as “Hari Seniman” to celebrate the performing arts practitioners and their contribution to their field and the nation.

In recent years, however, Hari Seniman celebrations have included those from the non-performing arts as well, such as artists, handicraft makers, martial art exponents and others.

In a nutshell, Hari Seniman celebrates practitioners and proponents of all art forms and recognises their significance and contribution to the nation.

“That is not all; the art forms also contri­bute to national development,” he says.

Numerous programmes have been lined up for this year’s Hari Seniman, which will be celebrated at Tasik Titiwangsa from 10am to 11pm, and the event is expected to bring together between 25,000 and 30,000 art practitioners.

In addition, Rais announced that the Government would set up a special fund to assist disadvantaged art practitioners to continue utilising their talents through their activities.

This move has been earnestly welcomed by those in the performing as well as non-performing arts fields.

This year’s event will serve as a platform for uniting stakeholders from the performing and non-performing arts, who can then establish a dialogue to determine how to elevate the country’s creative industry, notes the vice president of the Malaysian Artiste Association (Seniman), Zed Zaidi.

He highlights the fact that society has yet to fully appreciate the contributions of creative minds.

“As Hari Seniman has been extended to cover everyone involved in the field of art, it has provided us a stronger platform to voice our woes, especially to the Government,” he adds.

According to Zed Zaidi, society might be aware that apart from entertaining the masses and earning a living through their performances, artistes also serve as a conduit between the Government and the people.

Artistes, in fact, have always played a wide-ranging role and therefore they should be accorded the appropriate recognition.

“For example, in the 1Malaysia concept promoted by the Government, film and theatre producers have subtly and creatively highlighted racial unity in their work for the benefit of society.

“The same is true in highlighting social, cultural, religious and other issues, which are effectively presented to society with the background music and good quality script,” says Zed Zaidi, who is also an actor.

He hopes that the Government would consider declaring a public holiday during Hari Seniman to recognise the artistes’ contribution to the nation, just like the public holiday of Labour Day celebrates the workers’ contribution.

Zed Zaidi has called for a collective effort of the Government and the proponents of various art forms to develop the creative industry, which encompasses music, film and writing.

He says that before ensuring that the practitioners of the creative industry join the high-income bandwagon, the problems faced by this group need to be addressed.

“Because of this, we hope that this gathering will provide a stronger voice to us while we continue with our work, which will not only contribute to the nation’s economy but also help the Government deliver our message to society,” he says.

Under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), the Government has introduced the National Creative Industry Policy that not only empowers the creative industry but also helps it to generate a direct income of up to RM7.2bil per annum.

The Government’s funding is expected to help enhance the quality and quantity of the creative industry’s output within the next 10 years. Culture and arts can help to bridge the divide caused by differences in people’s origins, religion and politics.

Malaysia’s uniqueness due to its multi-cultural background only enriches its art forms.

The president of the Malaysian Indian Music Art Organisation, M.B. Selan, notes that this year’s event, which includes representatives from all the art forms practised in Malaysia, can be regarded as an all-inclusive event for the people in the world of art.

“There is only one goal – to unite under art, regardless of the different associations or types of art in Malaysia – and to work towards elevating the field to greater heights,” he points out.

Selan, who has been at the helm of his organisation for the last 13 years, observes that the event also exposes society to the different types of art forms and their practitioners, which can help pique society’s interest in the respective fields.

The event is not just about entertainment – it is a platform that helps create awareness and provides knowledge not only to art form practitioners but also to society.

“It is hoped that in this way, we can expose the younger generation – who are preoccupied with their IT gadgets – to many of our art forms,” he says, adding that this will indirectly safeguard them from social problems.

The Hari Seniman celebrations will be the first step towards elevating art forms in society and the country and according them greater recognition. — Bernama

Extracted from The Star Online (Sunday May 27, 2012)