Facilitating conversations between the arts and business

Izan: We launched the Creative Economy 2021 to bridge this gap.

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There needs to be better engagement between the creative economy and those who fund it if the arts in Malaysia are to grow in an effective and meaningful way, says Izan Satrina Mohd Sallehuddin, the founder of the Cultural Economy Development Agency (Cendana). 

Although private giving and corporate social responsibility efforts are essential in ensuring the sustainability of the arts and culture sector, the conversation tends to be limited within the arts bubble, she adds. “It tends to stay within associations, universities or small groups. We launched the Creative Economy 2021 to bridge this gap,” says Izan.

The upcoming virtual forum, which will be hosted by Cendana, MyCreative Ventures and RIUH on Oct 20, is a follow-up to conversations from the Creative Economy Forum 2021: The Creative, Arts & Cultural Industries Reimagined forum which took place on Oct 6. It will see panel discussions on corporation and foundation priorities, as well as opportunities for participants to virtually meet with representatives of the Malaysian arts sector.

“There will be strong involvement of government-linked companies and corporations. For instance, our speakers and panel members include Maybank Kim Eng chief executive officer (CEO) Ami Moris, Yayasan Sime Darby CEO Dr Hajjah Yatela Zainal Abidin, Media Prima Television Networks CEO Datuk Khairul Anwar Salleh and protector of the Creador Foundation Shanthi Kandiah,” says Izan.

There will also be speeches from Think City managing director Hamdan Abdul Majeed and contemporary artist Red Hong Yi. Hamdan will be speaking about creating collaborative partnerships as an effort to revitalise Malaysian cities, while Red will be sharing her journey as an artist and her perspective on how corporates can be more involved with Malaysian arts.

The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture will also be present, taking participants through the process of applying for corporate tax incentives which the government has introduced to encourage contributions and sponsorships by corporations and private foundations. Tax deduction is provided for sponsoring local arts, cultural and heritage activities, while tax breaks are provided for welfare assistance to arts and culture activists.

“A lot of corporations out there are not aware of these tax incentives. When I did a check back in 2018, I found out that out of the 1.2 million companies registered in Malaysia, less than 100 were taking advantage of the incentives. It’s baffling! We hope to amplify the existence of these incentives so that more companies would participate in contributing to the arts and culture scene,” says Izan.

The long-term goal of the platform is to influence provisions for the arts and culture industry, especially in Budget 2021, says Izan. “At Cendana, we have been working in three areas, namely enhancing the overall vibrancy of Malaysia’s arts and cultural scene by professionalising local arts talent; increasing market access and relationships for greater investment opportunities; and advocating a framework to support and create sustainable growth in the Malaysian arts and culture sector. Hopefully, we will be able to achieve great outcomes from our continuous efforts,” says Izan.

Jennifer Jacobs