Living Arts Cultural Festival 2019

Terinai @ Cheryl Hoffman

The second edition of the Living Arts Cultural Festival took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the 15th – 17th November 2019 with more than 135 performers representing seven (7) international cultural traditions and ten (10) Malaysian cultural traditions. Organized by the National Department of Culture and Arts (JKKN), Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism, in partnership with the Malaysia Tourism Centre (MaTiC), the Living Arts Culture Festival is a celebration of cultural heritage of Malaysia, Southeast Asia, and the world. This year’s Festival featured five UNESCO-recognized intangible cultural heritage traditions — Dondang Sayang (Malaysia) performed by the Kumpulan Kenangan Mawar Biru; Khon Classical Dance (Thailand) performed by Absolutely Thai Kansadaeng Watthanatham Co. Ltd.; the Darangen epic (The Philippines) performed by Sarimanok Theatre Company; Whirling Dervish by Sercan Celik and the Ebru Turkish Art of Marbling by Garip Ay (Turkey).

The Living Arts Cultural Festival 2019 also featured 3 Malaysian cultural traditions recognized as National Heritage — Main Puteri of Kelantan performed by Kelab Kebudayaan dan Kesenian Kampung Pulau Tebu; Dabus of Perak performed by Kumpulan Tradisional Dabus Tanjung Bidara; and Gendang Melayu Sarawak performed by Kumpulan Mukun Kamek.

Indigenous cultural traditions were another highlight of this year’s Festival — Aboriginal Didgeridoo – singing and dance by Malawurr (Australia); three (3) types of dances – Fancy Shawl, Traditional Dance & Prairie Chicken by Odawa Wiingushk (Canada); and the Pensol nose flute by Bah Raman s/o Bah Tuin (Malaysia). Other featured performers included the Puspanjali dance by Kumpulan Prasasti Budaya and the Ruai dance by Komunitas Seni Indonesia Eksotika (Indonesia); Anak Umbang by Che Wan Noorsaidi Che Wan Ab. Rahman from Terengganu (Malaysia); Teochew Puppetry by Ling Goh and the Teochew Puppet and Opera House from Penang (Malaysia); and the Terinai dance performed by ASWARA (Malaysia).

One of the fascinating sessions at the Living Arts Cultural Festival 2019 was the Seminar on Local Knowledge organized by the National Department for Culture and Arts, and facilitated by Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) which gathered experts, cultural activists and practitioners to explore and discuss the subject on ‘Healing Performance’. The panelists were Mr. Eddin Khoo (PUSAKA), Prof. Emeritus Dato; Mohamed Ghouse Nasuruddin (USM), Prof, Dr. Supyan Hussin (ATMA, UKM), Assoc. Prof. Dr. A. S. Hardy Shafii (USM), Prof. Dr. Low Kok On (USM), Assoc. Pro. Dr. Mohd. Kipli Abdul Rahman (UPSI) and practitioner/activist Che Mohd. Zailani Che Moh – Pak Mat Jedok.

The Festival also offered a variety of workshops, discussions and craft demonstrations as well as invited visitors participated and learned more about the cultural heritage. One of the most popular workshops this year was the Turkish Art of Marbling by Garip Ay held at the GALERI PETRONAS. There was also a well-attended workshop by Malawurr on Didgeridoo – aboriginal singing and dance technique. An exhibition of artworks by Amy Hashim entitled ‘The Soul II’ which displayed oil paintings on the subjects of flora, fauna and landscape was organized by the National Art Gallery while the National Department of Heritage and MaTiC offered a taste of traditional games and heritage food in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

The Living Arts Culture Festival 2019 took place at the Malaysia Tourism Centre (MaTiC) with satellite events hosted by other partner venues such as GALERI PETRONAS, Central Market and Publika. Audiences and visitors to the Living Arts Culture Festival 2019 were impressed by the richness of cultural heritage of Malaysia and its region; and delighted in the rare opportunity to experience a diversity of traditions gathered in one festival.

The Director General of JKKN, Tan Sri Hajah Norliza Rofli said, “We hope that this festival will attract the young generation to join our efforts to ensure that these art forms and cultural traditions are accessible to all and continue in a sustainable manner.”