ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asia Radar features articles and posts about arts and culture in Southeast Asia, drawn from local and regional websites and publications – aggregated content from outside sources, so we are exposed to a multitude of voices in the region. In the weekly Southeast Asia Radar, we publish a round-up of content that have been scoured and sifted from a range of regional news websites, blogs and media platforms.
Here is this week’s Southeast Asia Radar:
No quarantine blues: Making music in the time of COVID-19
Pianist Ananda Sukarlan, for example, has moved his masterclasses online to make up for the cancellations, even throwing in a discount to sweeten the deal.
Ananda said he coordinated with IT staff from the Ananda Sukarlan Center to hold the masterclasses, carried out using the video conference app Zoom.
“This is the first time I’ve done my masterclass online because it is difficult to do so with classical music. We deal with what we feel and how we express it, and usually, it’s easier if we are doing it live,” he told The Jakarta Post via text message, adding that some techniques needed to be shown face-to-face.
Arts and culture sector to get $55m boost to save jobs, improve skills and go digital as part of supplementary budget
The Straits Times
SINGAPORE – The arts and culture sector, hit hard by measures to slow the spread of Covid-19, will get a $55 million support package from the Government in a bid to save jobs, as well as encourage groups to improve their skills and go digital.
This is on top of the $1.6 million that had earlier been set aside to help arts groups improve their skills and ease expenses amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“We will provide additional support to major companies and leading arts groups, which are integral to our vibrant arts scene,” Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat told Parliament as he announced a Supplementary Budget on Thursday (March 26).
With MCO extended, Malaysian performing arts communities take to the virtual stage
Every Malaysian – to the best of each one’s abilities – is taking the recent announcement by the Government to extend the movement control order (MCO) to April 14 in their stride. If anything, the decision has brought out the more innovative and creative side of Malaysians to get by this “stay calm and stay home” period.
Even the performing arts community is readily showing that you do not need a physical stage to put on a show. Like Shakespeare himself put it: all the world’s a stage. And with the help of social media, theatre companies have gone online and DIY style to engage with Malaysian audiences in a way they were not able to before.
Last week, the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) started their #lockdownart project. The project looks to be continuing longer now. KLPac aims to inspire Malaysians to get in touch with their creative side in these trying times via its Instagram page.
Vietnam’s Movie Industry Strides Forward as Much Work Remains
With more financial support and global recognition, Vietnam’s movie industry has witnessed notable growth in recent years, in both output and content. Size-wise, both local demand and the supply have seen significant increases. Going to the movies has become one of the most convenient and fuss-free pastimes of Vietnam. With more multiplexes appearing across the nation since the early 2000s, the amount of movies released each year and number of people going to the theaters have both been increasing significantly.
Content-wise, over the past decade, there are signs that Vietnam is getting better at developing original content that’s deeply rooted in local culture and social issues, and international film circles are starting to take notice.
In October 2019, five Vietnamese movies were screened at the Busan International Film Festival, one of Asia’s most prominent cinema events celebrating local talents.
Summer Metro Manila Film Festival postponed due to city’s monthlong lockdown
The organizers of the first-ever Summer Metro Manila Manila Film Festival (MMFF) announced yesterday that the event will be postponed due to the city’s monthlong lockdown — or “community quarantine,” to borrow the government’s much more pleasant-sounding term of art.
In a Facebook post today, the MMFF said, “Following the President’s pronouncements regarding community quarantine in Metro Manila, the Summer Metro Manila Film Festival is postponed.”
The festival was supposed to run from April 11 to 21, and screen movies like the horror film The Missing, the rom-com Love the Way You Lie, and the action thriller A Hard Day. The organizers did not mention the new dates for the film fest.
Myanmar art galleries close amid virus fears
Though large-scale events and festivals are obviously affected there have been no similar announcements for smaller events. That includes art galleries and exhibitions.
Whilst much of the Yangon International Photo Festival has been suspended, some galleries in Yangon have decided to stay open – at least until the end of the month. Others have decided to close until May.
The Yangon Gallery postponed all of their art exhibitions, with the organisers raising concerns about large gatherings at their premises. The gallery is hosting one art exhibition this month, which it has postponed until May.
Scaling new heights
Although Bangkok is not a musical theatre town the way New York City and London are, the appetite for musicals here is not small.
We occasionally get a touring production of a famous Broadway musical, most recently The Lion King. We have local companies and artists writing original musicals, adapting Thai novels into musicals and translating beloved Broadway and West End productions into Thai. Not to mention the fact that we have traditional musical theatre forms of our own that are being performed regularly by folk and classical artists and that are being revisited, revived and reinvented by contemporary artists.
The ecosystem for Western musical theatre in Thailand is growing, and quality is improving. But it’s undeniable that opportunities for actors, writers and composers who want to focus on this type of musical theatre remain limited. These days, more young Thai artists hungry for a challenge and career in the performing arts are going to North America and Europe not only to further their education, but also to brave the highly competitive theatre world in New York and London.
About the author(s)
Nabilah Said is an award-winning playwright, editor and cultural commentator. She is also an artist who works with text across various artforms and formats. Her plays have been staged in Singapore and London, including ANGKAT, which won Best Original Script at the 2020 Life Theatre Awards. Nabilah is the former editor of ArtsEquator.