There is a need to be rid of the mentality of lamenting the lack of support from the authorities for the performing arts industry. What is needed is to roll up your sleeves and tackle the problem yourself.
Actress and producer Tiara Jacquelina says that it is time industry players take the bull by the horns and make things happen.
“If you ask any person in any industry, they would always say that there is a lack of support. But for me, make do with whatever you have, and just go and make it happen rather than sit around and moan or be a keyboard warrior, and sit round in cafes gossiping or just moaning about things."
“I prefer they just go out there to fix it. Whatever you can do, roll up your sleeves, go knock on doors. You can talk to people,” says an animated Tiara.
She said that as there are very few corporate entities which will put money into performing arts, one must go to them and talk to them to explain the necessity of collaborations between corporate and arts sectors to keep the latter alive.
Tiara’s latest production is “Ola Bola The Musical” which is currently being performed at Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur. This is based on the box-office hit movie Ola Bola which centres around the once multi-racial national football team which aspired to qualify for the 1980 Olympics.
Theatre is sometimes really wrongly seen as elitist, the perception is that “it costs too much money and I never could afford it”. But our cheapest ticket for “Ola Bola” is RM50
With big corporations coming into the production, Tiara has managed to transform the Istana Budaya stage to give audiences the sensation of sitting in a stadium on match day. Corporate sponsorship has allowed her access to the best of technology, in what she dubs, the most hi-tech stage performance musical in this region.
“I try to make them understand, corporations like CIMB, Celcom and Axiata. They understand the need for us to build an equal system for performing arts so that with that support, we are able to make people believe in Malaysian productions. Then, slowly and hopefully we will get to the point where the public themselves get used to paying for the productions and we will be sustainable on our own."
"And then at the other end, the final quadrant of the eco system is the continuous training. And I have already prepared myself in advance setting up the academy - Enfiniti Academy. That’s where we hope that will be the incubator for the future of performing arts. When I hang up my cape and I decide that I had done my bit, I have done my national service. And now it is over to the young people to carry the torch for the next generation to come,” says Tiara.
In her search for the next generation to keep the torch of performing arts burning bright, Tiara’s academy Enfiniti collaborates with the Ministry of Education to reach schoolchildren in the rural and city outskirts.
She said that this was to debunk the myth that performing arts is only to be enjoyed by the elite and very rich.
“Theatre is sometimes really wrongly seen as elitist, the perception is that “it costs too much money and I never could afford it”. But our cheapest ticket for “Ola Bola” is RM50. Because we want students to come and watch the show. We want the masses to come in, and if this is your first step into the theatre, and you will be touched and affected by it, at least for the first time. And you realise, “Hey, it is not elitist after all. Look, I had a good time. I was swept away and I can’t stop thinking about it the whole night”.
“As for my academy, Enfiniti Academy, what we are doing is we are together with the Ministry of Education. We have an outreach program, going out to schools that would never have any kind of exposure to theatre. We are talking about the far reaches of Malaysia, not in KL, and we go into the kampung, like the Ulu Slim River, the nethers of Johor and Negeri Sembilan and all - to go and teach children English through drama and theatre. At least they get a little exposure to what is drama, acting and theatre and building their confidence as young people through theatres, so it is not preachy, not classroom-like. You are learning English. You are learning communication. You are learning to be a vocal and an innovative leader,” says Tiara.
Tiara opines that it is the duty of the current artistes to nurture and groom new talents to ensure that Malaysia continues to have a vibrant performing arts community.