Close to 500 musicians given lifeline through Cendana’s Bandar Aktiviti Seni KL initiative

The arts and music scene has been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, Bandar Aktiviti Seni Kuala Lumpur (BASKL) is eager to play an active role by providing artists and musicians hope and a platform to express themselves.

An online space created by the Cultural Economy Development Agency (Cendana), BASKL’s website has been ‘live’ since mid-May and was launched last night. It coincided with World Music Day, which was celebrated yesterday.

Organised by Cendana and Musicians for Musicians Malaysia (MFM), musicians will perform six days a week. The performances will be streamed via the website over a period of six months.

Cendana will support MFM in terms of funding to cover the cost to pay the musicians and to administer and execute the platform.

MFM is an association dedicated to helping musicians who have lost their source of income since March 2020, when the lockdown was first implemented in the country. Its vice president, Edwin Nathaniel, said it has been a rough ride for musicians and the music industry because of the pandemic.

“We are trying to keep the scene alive by doing our part in bringing musicians together daily to perform online and live-stream to the wider public,” said Nathaniel.

“The musicians get to earn their keep, which is important to us.

“The collaboration with Cendana to feature 10 MFM musicians for the BASKL website launch (last night) was truly special. We are grateful as the partnership with Cendana will see 490 musicians supported till the end of the year.”

Communications and Multimedia Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Mohammad Mentek described the initiative as a “good ecosystem to support the music industry.”

“The music industry is one that the ministry hopes to grow further via the establishment of a National Music Corporation and the implementation of a variety of programmes under the Malaysian Creative Industries Stimulus Package,” he added.

Cendana’s founding chief executive officer, Izan Satrina Sallehuddin, said: “Since Cendana’s inception in September 2017, the independent music sector has risen sharply to become the second-highest sector for us.

“Given the increased demand, Cendana hopes to strengthen its role in supporting the development of the independent music scene across Malaysia. The broad-ranging efforts come in many forms, whether it is professional development, funding programmes, networking opportunities, and more.”

Izan added Cendana is delighted to have an equally important effort reintroduced to drive awareness of the arts and culture sector, including the music industry, via the BASKL website.

The website also features articles to celebrate Malaysian artists in the music scene, in addition to a special curation of the Malaysian music Spotify playlist.

BASKL will open up opportunities for organisers of online and physical art activities, space owners and art associations, art writers, and the general public for their activities to be promoted via its platform.

Writers, photographers, and videographers are aggressively being sought out to introduce an exciting array of content for the wider public. Collaborations with other stakeholders are also welcomed.

“Music, amongst other arts sectors, provides jobs for many Malaysians nationwide. Let’s not forget that it is beyond entertainment. Music, for many, is critical, as a form of escape during the pandemic… it heals,” Izan added.

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