Several arts activist groups have been busy putting together public programmes for neighbourhood kids to learn photography, video, t-shirt design and mural painting.
This public spirited movement might yet sweep through Malaysian communities, once the authorities get over their fear of democratic gatherings.
Several pioneers of such public education programmes in Malaysia gathered yesterday at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall to participate in a forum, Cabaran Perhubungan Etnik Dalam Perbentukan Komuniti dan Pendidikan Masyarakat, discussing the challenges posed by ethnic relations for the public education and community-building.
“We don’t teach them how to do it. They are free to go outside and shoot whatever (photos) they want to shoot. They know for themselves the quality of their work. We just help in pointing out how they can do better,” said Fahmi Reza, the project coordinator for Chow Kit Kita, a community programme for teenagers who grow up in the infamous Chow Kit area.
“Kids nowadays do not have arts education in school as a form of physical exercise,” noted Kajang Community Art Carnival project coordinator Sun Chun Mei of the unimaginative or non-existent national arts syllabus.
“When they do performing arts (in our programmes), it also gives them a form of physical exercise,” she added.
“Our founder realised that many people were leaving Georgetown, which is a heritage site, and so this project came about to educate the public about the heritage and history of Malaysia,” said My Balik Pulau project coordinator Chen Yoke Pin, noting the role of art in urban regeneration.
“There were no festival or events, there was no ‘living’ to (neighbourhood life). There were too many people leaving the place,” she added.
The two-hour forum was organised by the youths of the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.