Get ready arts enthusiasts! The Yayasan Sime Darby Arts Festival (YSDAF) is returning in August for its second edition and by the looks of it, it’s going to be a bumper festival weekend.

The two-day event at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) on Aug 20-21 is all geared up to wow visitors with over 100 exciting activities such as workshops, performances, drum circles, art market, film screenings, exhibitions, installations and even a lawn concert.

Daily programmes run from 10am to 10pm. The best part? It’s totally free!

The YSDAF debuted in 2014 and received a warm response from the public. Encouraged by this, YSDAF 2016 promises more crowd favourites as well as brand new programmes in line with the festival’s theme, “Art Education + The Future”.

Tun Musa Hitam, the chairman of Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD), says this year’s theme was chosen “because education is important as the springboard to develop new creative talents, aside from bridging the existing gaps in the arts industry”.

He adds that YSDAF 2016 will “set the bar much higher, with its broad theme enabling participants to healthily challenge one another to stimulate new art forms and promote arts recognition and acceptance at the grassroots level”.

Musa also announced that YSD will continue its financial assistance to KLPac for the next three years with an amount of RM1.5mil.

ACX Productions will be conducting the Children’s Puppet Workshop at the YSDAF 2016. Photo: KLPac

ACX Productions will be conducting the Children’s Puppet Workshop at the YSDAF 2016.

The public already had a taste of the biennial event with the staging of three satellite shows last year, namely, the wayang kulit performance entitled Hikayat Sang Kancil by the Children of Yayasan Chow Kit, a dance performance by Aswara called 3 Faces, and the screening of the region’s top short films entries with “The Best of TropFest SEA” showcase.

There is something for everyone at the all-ages YSDAF 2016. If you are a movie fan looking for critically acclaimed local films, then head over to the screenings of films like Lelaki Harapan Dunia, Terbaik Dari Langit, Jagat and numerous local indie short films.

If you’re looking to pick up a skill or two, there will be workshops including Basic Directing by Kelvin Wong and Improv Comedy by Qahar Aqilah. Soak in all the arts and culture with the dance and theatre performances, including drum performances by Drum Simfoni and Hands Percussion.

For the indie music fan, the Lawn Stage at KLPac is the place to be. It will feature an outdoor music concert programme with the likes of Golden Mammoth, Liyana Fizi, Nice Stupid Playground, The Impatient Sisters and Nastia. More names to be revealed soon.

The YSDAF 2016 will be topped with the Gala Night on both evenings of the festival. The first night is by invitation-only while the second is open to the public. Details on ticket redemption for the Gala Night will be released a month before the festival.

Be dazzled by performances by legendary 80s pop rock band Alleycats as well as Dasha Logan and Fynn Jamal at the festival's Gala Night. Photo: KLPac

Be dazzled by performances by legendary 80s pop rock band Alleycats as well as Dasha Logan and Fynn Jamal at the festival’s Gala Night.

The gala night line-up includes legendary pop group Alleycats, R&B singer Dasha Logan and singer-songwriter Fynn Jamal.

Patrons will also be treated to works by young talents mentored by Joseph Gonzales, Tay Cher Siang, Lee Swee Keong, Lee Kok Leong and Harith Iskander in five areas of the arts, namely dance, jazz, butoh, orchestral work and comedy. They will perform together with their mentors.

The mentor-mentee programme, aptly named “Master + Murid”, was launched in May with a mission to search for a new generation of talents.

Similarly, competitions such as Pitch Start and Future Living Design were carried out with the former trying to find Malaysia’s most creative talents to premiere their work at the festival and the latter providing a platform for architecture students and graphic designers to showcase their skills that reflect the festival’s theme.

One of the winning Pitch Start ideas which will star at the festival is Bulan Separa Penuh by CubeArt Stage & Performance. This full-length theatre production takes on a familiar storyline: the struggles of a homegrown performing artist. It chronicles the story of two young people and their dreams of building a life in the performing arts. They face strong objections from their families.

Other full-length shows include Shakespeare’s Men, Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Life Sdn Bhd: Then + Now.

Tun Musa Hitam says YSDAF2016 will certainly set the bar much higher, with its broad theme of Arts Education The Future. Photo: Yayasan Sime Darby

Elsewhere, the Paras Bunyi Collective will be a fully immersive audio visual showcase at the festival. The show will update local traditional sounds (Dikir Barat, wayang kulit) and use rich imagery, like batik designs. This loose collective of a dozen or so artistes is one of winners of the Pitch Start grant. The collective will be hosting its own space during the festival.

Datuk Faridah Merican, co-founder of KLPac, points out that arts festivals are crucial to the growth of the performing arts scene here.

“The arts scene is not just a passive form of entertainement. It is active and it is reaching to the people. So unless we get to this stage, we will never be able to call ourselves successful. This is the beginning, I believe, the success of the arts for the country,” she says.

Elsewhere, a community outreach programme called Wayang Shakespeare Sekolah, which was carried out in May, is also expected to give the festival its inclusive outlook.

The workshop for students around the Klang Valley features the art of puppetry combined with the Bard’s works.

Don’t miss the group’s wayang kulit version of the comedy The Taming Of The Shrew, directed by Mark Beau de Silva, at the festival.

Shuttle services from the Sentul Komuter Station and Star Line Sentul LRT station will be provided for festivalgoers.

For more info about Yayasan Sime Darby Arts Festival 2016, visit klpac.org/ysdarts fest.