Fest cel­e­brates artis­tic side of dis­abil­i­ties

Viet Nam News - - LIFE - BY TERENCE TOH

The in­au­gu­ral Art In­cludes Fes­ti­val 2019 in Kuala Lumpur is on a mis­sion to show­case dis­abil­ity arts and cul­ture. The fes­ti­val, which runs at the Ruang by Think City venue on Septem­ber 23-29, un­der­lines the need for di­ver­sity when it comes to the so­cial, cul­tural and pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

“The Art In­cludes Fes­ti­val 2019 is very spe­cial in so many ways. It aims to em­brace a com­mu­nity that rarely has an arts plat­form to call its own. It’s the first time we’re do­ing some­thing like this, with so many peo­ple from all over com­ing to par­tic­i­pate. It’s re­ally not to be missed, the in­vi­ta­tion is for ev­ery­body to come and ex­pe­ri­ence this fes­ti­val,” says Stevens Chan, the man be­hind the Art In­cludes Fes­ti­val 2019.

Chan, who be­came blind due to glau­coma, is also the founder of Di­a­logue In The Dark Malaysia, a so­cial en­ter­prise that works to in­crease pub­lic aware­ness around pre­ventable blind­ness. It also sup­ports in­di­vid­u­als with vis­ual im­pair­ments.

The theme of the fes­ti­val is Cel­e­brat­ing Diver­si­ties, and it will be held in con­junc­tion with the United Na­tion’s Global Day of Ac­tion.

Chan adds that the ob­jec­tive is to raise RM500,000 (US$12,000) from the fes­ti­val. The funds will be used to ex­pand and scale up the Di­a­logue In­cludes Academy with arts and mu­sic fa­cil­i­ties.

Art In­cludes Fes­ti­val 2019’s lineup of­fers a mix of in­ter­na­tional and home­grown high­lights.

Viet­namese-Amer­i­can

[The fes­ti­val] aims to em­brace a com­mu­nity that rarely has an arts plat­form to call its own."

Stevens Chan, founder of Art In­cludes Fes­ti­val 2019

culi­nary su­per­star Chris­tine Ha, who is blind, will be ap­pear­ing at the fes­ti­val. In 2013, Ha won the third sea­son of the MasterChef com­pe­ti­tion, a pop­u­lar TV se­ries, and she is the proud owner of the Blind Goat res­tau­rant in her home­town of Hous­ton.

Nepalese dancer/chore­og­ra­pher Shristi K.C., who lost her eye­sight at age 16, is also in the line-up. She runs Blind Rocks, an in­sti­tute train­ing the vis­ually im­paired in in­ter­per­sonal skills, dance, fash­ion and ad­ven­ture sports.

In the fes­ti­val’s mu­sic pro­gramme, Azariah Tan, a Sin­ga­porean al­most-deaf pian­ist, is set to give a talk on his in­spir­ing ca­reer. Tan suf­fers from bi­lat­eral sen­sorineu­ral hear­ing loss, caused by a de­gen­er­a­tive con­di­tion.

Lim Chia-Chien, a blind barista from Tai­wan, is also slot­ted in to talk at the fes­ti­val’s mini con­fer­ence.

Pa­trick Teoh, a vet­eran ra­dio dee­jay and the­atre prac­ti­tion­eer, is among the list of home­grown speak­ers at the fes­ti­val. He con­tracted po­lio when he was a child.

Blind pho­tog­ra­pher Ja­maliah Mohd Yasin and teenager Wan Jamila Wan Shai­ful Bahri (aka art­jamila), an artist with autism, will be ex­hibit­ing their work. Ja­maliah was one of the high­lights at the Sen­sory Pho­tog­ra­phy – For Our New Malaysia ex­hi­bi­tion in KL last year, while Wan Jamila was part of the Langkawi Art Bi­en­nale 2020 ear­lier this year and she also had a paint­ing ti­tled Unity in Di­ver­sity Sky­line Se­ries 3 A,B,C picked to beau­tify Arca Pu­tra­jaya at Pu­tra Square in front of the Prime Min­is­ter’s of­fice in Pu­tra­jaya.

Chng Seok Tin, a vis­ually-im­paired print­maker, sculp­tor and multi-me­dia artist from Sin­ga­pore, is also on the ex­hi­bi­tion list.

Net­work­ing and gath­er­ing a lineup for such a niche fes­ti­val was not the eas­i­est of tasks, ad­mits Chan. He was for­tu­nate, how­ever, that he was able to do it as most of those in­volved al­ready knew each other.

Ac­cord­ing to Chan, one of the main high­lights of the fes­ti­val is the three-day con­fer­ence, tak­ing place from Septem­ber 23-25. It fea­tures 50 NGOs and pub­lic agen­cies, 100 par­tic­i­pants from the pub­lic sec­tor, and 100 pri­vate and pub­lic univer­sity stu­dents.

The Cui­sine Din­ing In The Dark ses­sion will see par­tic­i­pants din­ing in com­plete dark­ness, and en­joy­ing a menu cu­rated by Chris­tine Ha.

Ex­hi­bi­tions, sen­sory the­atre and a mar­ket space as well as work­shops, in­clud­ing Di­a­logue In Si­lence, Di­a­logue Games and Di­a­logue In The Dark, add to the pro­gramme.

“There will also be an open-air street fiesta, with mu­sic, dance, singing and more, per­formed by both dis­abled and abled artists, in a his­toric in­clu­sive per­for­mance,” Chan says about the fes­ti­val’s street party sched­uled on Septem­ber 28 at the mar­ket square near the Ruang by Think City build­ing. THES­TAR/ ANN

Photo The Star/ANN

►►TIME TO SHINE: Wan Jamila Wan Shai­ful Bahri (aka art­jamila), an artist with autism, will be ex­hibit­ing her work at the Art In­cludes Fes­ti­val in Kuala Lumpur next month.

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