Artists for a Better World: Study Visit in Kuala Lumpur

The SIF’s annual Artists for a Better World (ABW) programme aims to foster networks and build capacity for the Arts for Good ecosystem in the region. The inaugural edition of ABW focused on how we can harness the arts and culture to create impact for persons with disabilities. 29 international participants from 13 countries, including India, Indonesia, Malaysia and as far as Greece, Cyprus and Palestine took part in webinars and study visits to Singapore and Malaysia across a 5-month period from October 2017 to February 2018 to exchange insights and connect with partners as well as the local communities.

Partnerships and connections are at the heart of what we do, and we are delighted that on the final study visit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 6 – 9 February 2018, our neighbours warmly welcomed us and we shared meaningful ways to shape an inclusive society through the arts.

This programme is part of the SIF’s Arts for Good initiative, which seeks to promote awareness of social issues, share best practices and enable action for positive social impact through the arts.

The welcome dinner at Limapulo was a reunion for the international participants who first met in November 2017 during the Study Visit in Singapore.
“It takes a whole village to create social change” says Izan Satrina Mohd Sallehuddin, Founding Chief Executive Officer, Cultural Economy Development Agency (CENDANA) (right) at a sharing session during the Welcome Dinner at Limapulo for the ABW Study Visit in Kuala Lumpur.
Sumitha Thavanendran, Principal of Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) Education and Training Division (standing), speaking about their aspiration to create equal opportunities for visually impaired persons so as to enable them to enjoy the same quality of life as the sighted. MAB is a disability-led organisation with key management roles taken up by persons with disabilities, and a key partner for this Study Visit in Kuala Lumpur.
Zoe Gan, Disability Consultant, UNICEF Malaysia, emphasised that persons with non-visible disabilities should be equally supported and empowered as those with visible disabilities.
“We take a design-thinking approach to journalism that enables iterations,” said Ian Yee, describing his team’s approach in covering important social issues in Malaysia that have successfully lobbied government agencies to enact new laws. Ian is the Executive Editor and Producer of the investigative journalism platform R.AGE.
During the Study Visit in Kuala Lumpur, ABW participants heard from various champions from Malaysia on their vision for the arts and disability. Datin Fauziah, Chairman, Panel for Arts Curriculum, Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) and President, Malaysian Women Graduate Association (in red), shared her vision of developing a Music Academy at the association to enrich and uplift the lives of the blind. A diploma in Audio Production was recently launched in early 2018.
Participants also visited the Spastic Children’s Association of Selangor and Federal Territories (SCASFT). Edwin Nathaniel, Percussionist and Founder of Music Mart (standing), led a drum circle session at SCASFT where he has volunteered as a music facilitator for over 16 years. He shared that there is vast potential for music to serve as therapy as well as give confidence to persons with disability.
During a participant-led activity, Malaysian participant Sushila Kukathas (in black shirt, pointing) led fellow participants on a walkabout of 2 Hang Kasturi and the World Urban Forum Village area, where she showed examples of inclusive urban city design in Kuala Lumpur.
Hajjah Yatela Zainal Abidin, CEO, Yayasan Sime Darby (standing) highlighted how Yayasan Sime Darby supports the arts community through a process of partnership and collaboration. Hajjah Yatela was one of three World Café speakers who shared about ways of accessing diverse sources of funding from the public, private and people sectors.
During a lunchtime showcase, Joshua Danial Johnson (far left), Salvador Augustine Ling Jun An (far right) and fellow students from Music Mart performed two songs, including an original composition, “Short and Sweet” which won them the top prize at the Autistic Talent Gala 2017 in Hong Kong.
Partho Bhowmick (left) guiding a participant during his blind photography workshop, where participants were blindfolded and had to engage their other senses to help them take photographs of things they could not see. His session was part of the UnConference, a series of workshops and talks for peer learning among the ABW participants and the community in Malaysia.
Puan Feilina Feisol, Chairman, National Autism Society of Malaysia (in pink shirt), sharing about setting up Malaysia’s first autistic choir that has given voice to their non-verbal beneficiaries. Her sharing was part of the UnConference.
The 29 international participants taking a group photo to mark the close of ABW programme.

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