The newly-formed Cultural Economy Development Agency (Cendana) is on a mission to rethink how Malaysian arts and culture can be transformed into an economic force. The recent launch of the Kuala Lumpur As A Cultural And Creative City Report,  a collaboration between agencies and public and private organisations, has set the ball rolling.

The Kuala Lumpur As A Cultural And Creative City Report was commissioned by Cendana, Ministry of Communications and Multimedia (KKMM), Yayasan Hasanah, Yayasan Sime Darby, Think City, MyCreative Ventures, British Council Malaysia and was undertaken by a consortium comprising of My Performing Arts Agency, Frost and Sullivan Malaysia, and Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy, a leading international expert on the cultural and creative economy.

Cendana’s aim, in these early days, is to position Kuala Lumpur as an internationally-recognised cultural and creative city.

“The creative economy is one of the most rapidly growing sectors of the world economy in terms of income generation, job creation and export earnings. It also generates non-monetary value that reflects a nation’s capacity to express itself artistically and creatively through its homegrown culture and heritage – whether these be films, music, literature, theatre and the arts generally that can be shared with the world. The Kuala Lumpur As A Cultural And Creative City Report will set the tone for a five-year actionable plan that will increase the current GDP contribution of KL to RM19.4bil and create more than 125,000 jobs,” said Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak, Communications and Multimedia Minister, at the launch of the report held at Bursa Malaysia in KL on Wednesday.

“There is a direct link between the cultural sector to the creative industries. The cultural sector is the heartbeat and core to the creative economy. It is the fuel to the creative sector and will nurture the soul of the nation,” he added.

The report identifies five building blocks, which include: (1) cultural and creative education; (2) creative hubs and infrastructure; (3) nurturing the market; (4) business support and investment; and, (5) creative place-making and tourism. The report further outlines key sectors in Malaysia’s arts scene, detailing the overview, challenges and opportunities, sharing case studies in addition to providing an overview of what drives Malaysians to engage or consume the arts.

“The Malaysian government is taking unprecedented steps to elevate the voices of the arts and culture communities via the establishment of Cendana,” said Izan Satrina Datuk Mohd Sallehuddin, Cendana CEO.

“There are plans to energise the landscape via stimulating demand for the arts, empowering the communities by improving circumstances for individual artists and arts groups. There is also a need to refine existing policies and to make investment in the arts more attractive to corporations. Within the past six months, public arts programming, artists mobility, trade engagement and art development funding efforts were implemented,” she added.

In conjunction with the report, the Art In The City initiative, an outdoor art project, was also announced. Cendana is calling Malaysian artists to submit artworks (painting, photography and visual design). Submission ends March 9. More info: www.cendana.com.my.