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Visual Arts Development Bill 2010

Posted by on Friday, 27 August, 2010 at 9:29 AM. Filed under: News

At the opening of Zulkifli Yusoff’s Negaraku exhibition at Balai Seni Lukis, Dr. Rais Yatim, Minister for Information, Culture and Communications announced that a Visual Arts Development Bill (2010) will be tabled in parliament this coming October. As reported in Bernama, it aims at ‘strengthening the role of the National Art Gallery (NAG) as the vanguard in the field in this country’.

What exactly is this bill and what does it mean for BSLN specifically and Malaysian visual arts in general?

Dr Rais Yatim’s quotes in the Bernama report are strong on the rhetoric of arts commerce. Arts conservation also seems to be a priority. This is mirrored in the approach of BSLN’s newly appointed Director General Ambassador Datuk Mohd Yusof Ahmad, who speaks of ‘branding the gallery and to make it more popular’ in an insightful interview with Rachel Jenagaratnam in the NST.

Rachel Jenagaratnam’s piece rightly mentions that corporate funding and partnership is the norm for public arts institutions and museums around the world.

For a long time now, BSLN has been everyone’s favorite punching bag. Now things look set to change.

I for one have come to look fondly at BSLN as one of the few national art museums in the world to be exceedingly welcoming to artists. There is an atmosphere of openness and approachability that is very lacking in other more established and ‘polished’ institutions overseas. Yes, infrastructure and service could be improved, but we may well end up with the shiny look and feel of a corporatized NAG. What really, do we want? Beyond the usual whining and griping, when and where have we set out clearly our expectations, our beliefs and our convictions?  Now is the time when we will see whether artists are really interested in debating what sort of National Art Gallery they would like to be a part of. Or are we only too willing to leave the decision-making to politicians and people with business interests?

Time is ticking away; the bill will be tabled in October. The arts community still has a long way to go to find a voice.


As the Bernama report is no longer available without subscription, here it is in full:

KUALA LUMPUR, 9 AUG, 2010 (Bernama): The Visual Arts Development Bill 2010, which is expected to be tabled in parliament this October, is aimed at strengthening the role of the National Art Gallery (NAG) as the vanguard in the field in this country.

Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said the tabling of the Bill was also in line with the aim of making the NAG  the nation’s visual arts conservation centre.

“With the passing of the Bill by parliament later, the gallery’s set-up will be expanded to include various other forms of visual arts like sculptures, carvings and bas relief while the administration will be modernised in keeping with the times.

“We want the National Art Gallery to be more universal in character, hence giving higher recognition to the country’s creative industry, whereby visual  arts will provide lucrative returns to our artists,” he said after opening the exhibition, “Zulkifli Yusoff: Negaraku (My Country)” at the gallery, here today.

The exhibition by Zulkifli, a visual arts lecturer at Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI), features his new works in the form of paintings, collage, mixed media and installations which express the views of those born after Independence about the country.

The exhibition, organised in conjunction with Malaysia’s 53rd Independence anniversary, runs until Sept 26.

Earlier, in his speech, Rais said the NAG’s programme for this year would include the 4th Malaysia Art Expo scheduled for Oct 28 to Nov 1 at the Matrade building, here.

“The expo this time aims to garner RM5.6 million from art work transactions and draw 1.2 million visitors, hopefully resulting in greater appreciation for and open-mindedness about visual arts and boosting its market as a contributor to the national economy.”

He said from May to October this year, the NAG and some private local galleries would also be participating in the Shanghai World Expo together with 242 other countries and some 4.2 million visitors expected.

Rais said the NAG would also participate in the Venice Architecture Biennale 2010 (Aug 21-Nov 21), the oldest such international event where it would also be an opportunity for Malaysia to promote its artists and architects to the world.

Images by Muhammad Zulfadli Selamat, from the website of Kementrian Penerangan, Komunikasi & Kebudayaan (KPKK).

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  1. Tattfoo says
    27/08/2010 11:38 AM

    seem like a band aid to the old problem.
    Should have create a more diverse art infrastructure instead of investing in a single museum, that might not run the right course.

    Try to value art in the role it play in the life of the citizen instead of monetary/sale.

  2. tania65 says
    16/01/2011 1:08 PM

    What exactly is this bill and what does it mean for BSLN specifically and Malaysian visual arts in general?Rachel Jenagaratnam

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