Injecting arts into communities

Art sculpture

Arts, made easily accessible to people from all walks, play an important role in building communities.

As people begin to recognise and appreciate their culture, traditions and art forms, arts have a role in regeneration, according to Alan Kay in the paper ‘Art and Community Development: The Role of the Arts have in Regenerating Communities’ published in the 2000 Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal. Kay noted arts can be used as a tool within a wider community development programme.

And partnering developers give artists the room to express themselves, allowing them to be seen, heard and counted. This is crucial in the Malaysian context for the arts scene is often overlooked.

Thus, it was only natural for the founder of Wei-Ling Gallery, Lim Wei-Ling to partner BRDB Developments to bring the first Malaysian pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale to life, featuring the artworks of Malaysian artists Anurendra Jegadeva, H.H. Lim, Ivan Lam Wai-hoe, and Zulkifli Yusoff.

BRDB, having built iconic communities since 1965, is no stranger to the arts scene.

Lim and BRDB’s chief marketing officer Nancy Tan share their insights about the importance of arts in development.

Twentytwo13: More property developers are working with artists worldwide. Some may call it a marketing gimmick with others feel it’s a good way to reach out to the community. What are your thoughts?

Lim: Great public art, accessible to people from all walks, is an important contribution to the residential landscapes. BRDB has always been known to be ahead of the game in developing interesting and visionary projects which are rooted in strong design. This sets them apart from the rest.

BRDB was therefore a natural partner to help realise Malaysia’s first national pavilion at the 58th Venice Art Biennale. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s gave his blessings but financially, we were on our own. BRDB believed in this project and came onboard as the Lead Sponsor to help realise this dream.

Twentytwo13: In Malaysia, it’s not easy getting funds or support for the arts scene. What is your secret?

Lim: There is no secret. If you believe enough in something and are truly passionate about making it happen, you will persevere until you achieve results. Artists work this way. Regardless of whether there is acceptance of their work, they (artists) continue their journeys till they die. My belief in people and artists I work with is unwavering, as is my belief in the Malaysian arts scene.

We have a handful of artists in this country who can hold their own on an international platform … they need to be given a voice, to be seen, to be counted.

We couldn’t have done this without BRDB as well as the early backing and patronage of Creador Foundation and Seeing Eye Films. These sponsors believed in me and had faith that I would be able to make this a reality for the country and the Malaysian arts scene.

Lim Wei-Ling and Nancy Tan
Lim (left) and Tan exchange views about the importance of arts in development.

Twentytwo13: What does the Malaysian arts scene mean to BRDB?

Tan: Development is about creating communities, and while there are many ways for a development to make a splash, one of the most distinctive approaches has been the investment in the arts. Such investments serve to entwine culture, art and architecture, engaging residents, adding character and bringing a sense of participation to a newly established area

Art and culture are great tools to bring people together and create the human interactions that are key to building a community. Be it the “Serai Artist Series”, Tamansari’s “Art of Living”, or our latest support for Malaysia’s very first national pavilion at the Venice Biennale, BRDB’s involvement in the art scene illuminates the many heritage, histories, and people whose lives we are touching day in and day out.

Twentytwo13: Besides the national pavilion at Venice Biennale, how else will BRDB be working with Wei-Ling Gallery?

Tan: We are working with Wei-Ling Gallery to bring all four artworks to BRDB’s waterfront development, Emerald Bay later this year. It will be the first time all four artworks will be featured collectively under one roof in Malaysia and the region.

Twentytwo13: Will we see more collaboration between BRDB and artists?

Tan: Our projects appeal to the discerning market segment, hence I believe there are synergies for us and the arts and the design industries to collaborate on the promotion of the local arts scene.

In 2012, BRDB unveiled the “Serai Artist Series”, which showcased the works of SC Shekar, an internationally renowned photographer; Jalaini Abu Hassan, one of the most established fine artists in Malaysia; and Dr June Ngo, a pioneering innovator of the art of Songket. It was a tribute to Bangsar and the vibrancy as well as heritage of the neighbourhood.

In Just last year, BRDB revealed the “Art of Living” project, an outdoor art and cultural endeavour that was inspired by the rich history of Rawang as one of the earliest satellite mining towns which featured the works of Ramlan Abdullah, Umibaizurah Mahir Ismail, Haffendi Anuar and Jun Ong.

The “Art of Living” project, located at our Tamansari development, aims to bring art and life to the township where residents and visitors come together, connect and express creative ideas collectively.

While the value of an artwork itself may appreciate over time, the big benefits are found in the enhanced visibility and brand awareness which in turn increase interest and drive economic uplift throughout the area.

Fight for Change 2019