“Glass Half Full”: Yan­gon’s new com­mu­nity arts space

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse - LIL­LIAN KALISH l.kalish@mm­times.com

ANEWLY formed The Smiths cover band Poe Het (“cock­roach” in English) is hav­ing their de­but gig at grandma’s house. In an old apart­ment com­plex – ac­cess to which was given to one of the or­gan­is­ers by her grand­mother – Yan­gon res­i­dents Khin CM Maung, Mandy Moe Pwint Tu and Paul Chan have trans­formed a two-storey home into an in­ti­mate and in­for­mal com­mu­nity cen­tre com­plete with a lend­ing li­brary, a com­mu­nity board, floor pil­lows and a small stage.

This week Poe Het, along with slam poet Than Toe Aung, mu­si­cians Lin Htet Paing and Mar­i­lynn Lynn, beat boxer Si Phyo Min, and more will per­form at the open­ing night of Glass Half Full.

Just north of the Yaw Min Gyi cafés and bou­tique stores, the apart­ment lo­cated at 50 Bo Yar Nyunt Road will show­case Yan­gon’s di­verse and young ta­lent at this new art and com­mu­nity space.

The three or­gan­is­ers – who also edit and man­age the on­line Yan­gon Lit­er­ary Mag­a­zine which will de­but print edi­tions this De­cem­ber – are all young writ­ers them­selves and hope to make “50”, as they call it, a shar­ing space for artists and cre­atives.

“This is kind of a pop-up cre­ative space. We have it un­til Fe­bru­ary so we’re try­ing to get as much out of it as pos­si­ble,” said 21-year-old Khin CM Maung, a poet and writer who will con­tinue her stud­ies in Aus­tralia start­ing in Fe­bru­ary.

Un­like other events hosted by Khin CM Maung and her two co­horts – 20-year-old writer Mandy Moe Pwint Tu and 18-year-old Pre Col­lege Pro­gram se­nior Paul Chan – the trio hopes to cre­ate a space not just for artists but for so­cially and cre­atively en­gaged or­gan­i­sa­tions through­out the city.

“We’re con­tact­ing a lot of groups like the Parami In­sti­tute which is just start­ing up. They’re run by young en­trepreneurs. Also peo­ple from the Myan­mar Women’s Self De­fense Cen­ter … pro­grams like that,” said Khin CM Maung. “If they want to do a fundraiser, they don’t have to go any­where that’s go­ing to charge them for the space and cut away from their prof­its.”

“This is more com­mu­nal in a sense,” said Mandy Moe Pwint Tu, ex­plain­ing that the events put on at 50 aim to break down the tra­di­tional di­vide be­tween au­di­ence mem­ber and per­former, be­tween or­gan­iser and par­tic­i­pant. At 50, ev­ery­one has some­thing to share.

50’s open­ing night is just the be­gin­ning of what will hope­fully be­come a sus­tained stream of artistry and work­shops. Al­ready, Khin CM Maung and Mandy Moe Pwint Tu en­vi­sion fu­ture events on the hori­zon in­clud­ing a pho­tog­ra­phy work­shop, a queer meet-up called Queer Space, and col­lab­o­ra­tive work­shops with the Yan­gon Fem­i­nist Book Club and the Rangoon So­cial Stud­ies Club.

While gal­leries, bars, and parks have all be­come sites of ex­hi­bi­tion and shar­ing for Yan­gon’s artists and ac­tivists, in­for­mal com­mu­nity spa­ces like 50 – both not-for-profit and in­ti­mately housed – are rel­a­tively rare.

Glass Half Full is an op­ti­misti­cally ti­tled in­tro­duc­tion to the al­ter­na­tive, cre­ative and col­lab­o­ra­tive pos­si­bil­i­ties that await Yan­gon’s younger, un­der­ground art and ac­tivist scene.

The open­ing of Glass Half Full will run from 6-9pm on Novem­ber 5, at No 50 Bo Yar Nyunt Road, Yaw Min Gyi ward, Dagon town­ship

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