Editor’s Note: This is an open letter written by the founders of the Performing Arts Centre of Penang (penangpac), Faridah Merican and Joe Hasham.
This 11th November, the Northern region’s only fully-integrated arts centre turns 10, a remarkable milestone for Malaysian performing arts.
Even while its future remains uncertain and having just emerged from a devastating year, the Performing Arts Centre of Penang (penangpac) readies to welcome fully-vaccinated audiences back with “A Decade with penangpac” at stage 1 from 11 to 13 November 2021.
The team thought, what could be a more meaningful way to celebrate than to round up all the talented performers that have made penangpac come alive along with some of its strongest supporters?
Every person whose heart has been touched, whose lives have been changed by penangpac, reunited in this beloved and treasured home for art makers and art lovers.
Hosted by Karam Tabba, ten exciting acts will take to the stage including “The Waiter” by mime artist Asyraf Nazmie (Ash), ‘Nocturne’ by harpist Dr. Jessenzzth Chua, ‘Danse Macabre’ and ‘Duo Abecedaire’ by horn player Ong Yong Hang and clarinettist Chee Hui Hui, a Mridangam performance by Haarishwar Sunmugavel, a joget showcase by Shuqdancer, ‘Boria penangpac’ by its own boria group Muhibbah Boriais, ‘A German in Penang’ by comedian Tommes, erhu player Jamie Chong Jian Mei, ‘A Couple of Secrets’ by Penang Players Music and Drama Society and a surprise performance by The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat.
“A Decade With penangpac” is sponsored by the Penang CM Office, Penang State Exco of Social Development &Pusat Khidmat ADUN Tanjung Bungah.
Despite its many struggles, penangpac’s far-reaching impact as a non-profit to nurture the arts is undeniable.
Many have said that Penang before and after penangpac has been entirely different, vouched that it is THE place to get their dose of culture and their absolute favourite venue of choice.
The numbers and hugely impressive track record do not lie.
In this past decade, penangpac housed almost 1,000 performances and events (including 100 international troupes); entertained 250,000 audiences from all walks of life; educated almost 1,500 students from 3 years old to seniors in all facets of arts; brought performing arts to our schools and community, reaching over 50 schools, and providing 2,700 students their first exposure to the arts through free introductory workshops.
It is a pity that just at it is about to get back on its feet, penangpac has been dealt with another devastating blow.
Unfortunately, the 10-year partnership between The Actors Studio and E&O Berhad will come to a premature end as E&O Berhad has withdrawn from the partnership, leaving The Actors Studio to fend for the already struggling arts centre on its own.
This withdrawal means the end to the rent-free arrangement for penangpac in Straits Quay which was the main reason penangpac could sustain until today.
An additional RM1.5 million per annum will be required moving forward to maintain its space there. Whether it will be able to raise the funds needed in this race against time is another question altogether.
Now, more than ever, the people’s voices on the need and value of having a penangpac must be heard.
At the end of the day, what kind of a Penang do we want to leave to our children and grandchildren?
Hopefully, not one that only values economic prosperity but also our arts, culture and heritage. penangpac at the end of the day exists because of and for the people here. Let us protect this dream together for our future generation.
Cover image sourced from MalayMail.