The artistic talent in Malaysia has become more and more visible in the past few years, or else it’s been there all along and I’ve just become more aware of it. Maybe it’s just that I was frequenting places that typically showcased the more ‘sellable’ arts, such as watercolor landscapes or sketches of kampungs. Yes I’m a tourist as well as a traveler, but I do have an appreciation for the creative arts.
In some towns that’s the only type of art that seems to be encouraged, and often the mass producers of such art may even get the keys to the city by community leaders because they are ‘team’ players. As someone who possesses no keys to any city, I’m well aware of this practice and I have strong feelings about art and ‘local’ politics. It doesn’t work. And I certainly have high respect for any artist that keeps their spirits up and forges through despite lack of community support. Their time will come.
The arts are alive and beyond well in Selangor, giving that state a richness unique unto its own. From writing and photography workshops to live theatre and dance programs, they have embraced the multitude of talents available and showcased all regardless of race, religion and even nationality. Art for art’s sake.
This sort of open minded-ness may also help more traditional communities within the state to work together on creative solutions to a myriad of issues (some social), making Selangor even more of a haven for creative thinkers. And that’s not something that goes overlooked by Tourism Selangor. In fact that may be the primary character trait they look for in any potential employee, the ability to think outside the box.
A few years ago I took a neighbor boy to a community Family Day event, where families and their budding young artists were supplied with a large canvas and all the supplies to create something artistic. Preferably an image based on the on-site lake and surrounding buildings and fauna. Not an especially easy task for a kid, but still something fun to do and free!
I knew my neighbor boy was artistically inclined and was happy to encourage him in any way I could, as well as give him an opportunity to get away from a noisy household of five younger siblings. It was exciting to see this young boy tackle a landscape basically alone, while other families eagerly clamored around their own little artists with great enthusiasm. But that day I was his ‘family’, because his parents were “busy.” He was quiet but he worked intensely and diligently in the hot mid day sun, while I kept the free refreshment source stockpiled.
His final work was not quite finished but beautiful in that special way that some unfinished pieces can be. I wanted this beautiful painting to hang in my home, because I loved it! But a sad thing happened that day… Upon our return back to ‘our’ kampung, a shy but excited son showed his artwork to his father and his father generously offered his critique. “It’s no good”, his father stated. For my benefit he spoke in English. I had wished he hadn’t.
We both lost a little something that day, but of course the boy’s loss was much greater. I don’t know what happened to that creative gentle-souled boy. His painting eventually ended up in the yard to be trampled by uncaring siblings and he himself is now growing into a young man. Perhaps always wondering if everything he does is “No good.” Maybe he’ll become like his father, a man with little consideration for the feelings of others.
It was obvious that this boy’s life was troubled. I’d seen him alone on occasion, crying next to the sea, and wondered why? And I also wondered what if… What if he had been encouraged?
Tourism Selangor’s #TSBreakAway pilot program was an opportunity for me to get back in touch with my own creative side in a very unique way. I too had dreams of becoming an artist and went so far as getting a BFA in Painting. But, to quote John Lennon, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” ‘Real’ jobs put a roof over your head and feed you. ‘Real’ jobs are honorable and make families proud. But ‘real’ jobs can also crush spirits.
Community support seems to give validation to the value of the creative arts and especially when it comes to tourism. Even some of the smallest townships can shake the world with their local art and music scene and sometimes even put themselves on ‘the map’, so to speak. Underestimating the diversity of people, especially when relying on airport surveys or redundant Travel Fairs, can be detrimental to a country’s tourism potential. If you build it, they will indeed come. But only if you believe.
Communities that support the arts are rich in spirit and pave the way for families to embrace and encourage creativity in their children. Creativity to think outside the box. For those with an appreciation for the arts, Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC) in Petaling Jaya, Selangor has a multitude of events, performances and workshops to dazzle and wow. You won’t be disappointed!
Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC)
H-01, DPAC, Empire Damansara,
Jalan PJU 8/8, Damansara Perdana,
47820 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Tel: (03)4 065 0001, (03)4 065 0002
Fax: (03)4 065 0003
*This is my third post for Tourism Selangor’s #TSBreakAway