KUALA LUMPUR: MALAYSIA is on the right track to become an art tourism destination.
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said art events such as the 1Malaysia Contemporary Art Tourism Festival (1MCAT) were now acknowledged as among the country’s tourism products.
The festival also helped boost the economy. Since the inaugural event three years ago, Dr Ng said millions of ringgit of Malaysian artworks had been sold.
It had generated RM4.1 million in sales through art auctions, including RM1.7 million in 2010 and RM3 million last year.
The festival, launched last month and to run until September, is organised by the Tourism Ministry, in collaboration with Balai Seni Visual Malaysia and Gabungan Persatuan Pelukis Se-Malaysia.
“For the first time, we are offering travel packages related to art.
But it is not about going to a destination to enjoy art. It is about going to a place, with perhaps an outdoor setting, finding inspiration and creating one’s best piece.
“There will also be visits to local art studios and attending art talks while experiencing a stay in the kampung under the homestay programme.” Thirteen packages are available under the newly introduced “Malaysia, Your New Art Destination” travel programme.
This year’s festival would also see for the first time the participation of several states, namely Sarawak, Pahang, Penang, Johor, Malacca, Kedah and Sabah.
Held for the third consecutive year, 1MCAT was initiated to diversify the country’s tourism products by establishing Malaysia as a reputable destination for art aficionados in the region.
The festival serves as a platform to promote local artists and artworks to global audiences through a series of nationwide art-related events.
Shopping malls in the Klang Valley are also participating in the festival through exhibitions and other events. They include Sungei Wang Plaza, Fahrenheit 88, Pavilion KL, Annexe Gallery at Central Market, Starhill Gallery, Sunway Pyramid, Publika and Low Yat Plaza.
The first 1MCAT in 2010 received 42,000 visitors and generated RM14 million in art sales.
Suhaimi Fadzir, one of the local artists participating in the festival, said establishing a career in art was much easier now, thanks to support from society and the government.
He said 1MCAT had created more opportunities for local artists to showcase their talents.
“It could be the bridge leading local artists to fulfilling their dream of showcasing their works at international exhibitions.” With such strong support, he said young talents had no excuse not to pursue a career in contemporary art.
“Young artists should be brave in pursuing their dream. They should always remember their love of art and believe that it can lead them to a successful path,” he said.
Suhaimi has participated actively in local and international art festivals over the last 30 years. His artworks were recently showcased at the Dublin Biennial 2012 in Ireland and GZ ArtBasel 2012 in Switzerland.
For more information on the scheduled activities, go to www.tourismmalaysia.gov.my.