Busking in the name of Sarawakian arts and culture

September 3, 2019

Is busking still a thing?What does Ed Sheeran, Sheryl Crow, Rod Stewart and Justin Bieber have in common? They all found their ticket to stardom through busking´┐Ż Yes, yes. We all know that Busking+America= Famous but what about right here in Malaysia? Alfred Ho made it onto the Asia's got talent, graffiti artist, Kenji Chai is now locally renowned and Caliph Buskers have music albums featuring famous artists.The music industry especially in Malaysia is one that receives tremendous amounts of exposure. However, it is also one that can be ruthless and cut-throat at times. Some local artists get noticed by music producers and recording labels through a mere submission of a demo while others are scouted through singing contests like Malaysian Idol or nowadays, via social media channels.With a nation so rich in tradition and culture, citizens express their art forms in numerous ways- dancing, singing, beatboxing, painters and many more. Woefully, only a handful of them ever truly get to share their artistic expressions with the world.Busking in Malaysia is typical. We see street musicians, or in Malay, Pemuzik Jalanan setting up their guitars, keyboards and amplifiers on sidewalks and in malls. There is a considerable number of them that the local municipal council, Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) compels you to have a permit to be a busker. Busking is not just rampant in Kuala Lumpur but in other states too such as Johor, Melaka and Sarawak.About Busker Raya Borneo744?The Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) campus in Kuching, Sarawak took note of this and decided to host the Busker Raya Borneo744 competition, a busking festival to nurture and connect local talents aside from providing the Sarawakian youth and emerging artists with a platform to promote their creativity to other art enthusiasts and the general public.YB Fazzrudin Abdul Rahman, Sarawak State Legislative Assembly member graced the event and addressed the 400 attendees as he visited the booth exhibition at the Borneo 744 Marketplace where local entrepreneurs showcased and sold their artistic forms, products and services to the attendees. The event also included a custom bike and car showcase for the automotive fans which saw various kinds of spruced up vehicles.The competition which was held at Borneo744 in Bintawa drew participation from 7 artists and bands such as Obnoxious, Semadoh Sarikei, The Paulus, Abang, Rawi, The Fingerprints and Sam, kicked-off with an opening act by locally renowned Pinanak Sentah, a family band, to educate the younger generation on traditional music through contemporary modern fusion, while ensuring the older generation that their traditions are being carried on.The Fingerprints bagged the winning prize for the competition and took home with them RM1,000.00 in cash prize, a trophy and participation certificate. Rawi who won second place and Afterfall who came in third were awarded RM 750.00 and RM 500 respectively as well as trophies and certificates. Judges for the competition included Red Kadri from Majlis Seni Sarawak, Producer and artist Zah Amirul and Instagram influencer Iqbal Harun.Tuition teacher by day, singer-ukulele player by nightMaGIC spoke to 23 year old part-time tuition teacher, Sam, a Busker Raya Borneo744 competition participant who is a passionate singer and Ukulele player:"This is my very first time performing in front of a crowd. I was extremely nervous but being provided with a platform such as this assures me that everyone here shares the same passion and drive as I do so I really had nothing to lose if I messed up during my performance and basically everything to gain if I did extremely well," she told MaGIC.Sam added:"There are not a lot of creative outlets like this Busker Raya. We see a lot of band competitions out there but those who dare compete in it are mostly those of them who have already built a brand and a fan base for themselves. The bedroom artists such as myself still feel we are not up to par just yet but aspire to be someday. This is why some of us take our creative expressions to the streets while the rest suppress them and only share them with our friends, family and our bedroom walls. We need more of these Busker Raya sort of music festivals and I am hoping that this is not a one-off event, but rather a monthly gathering."Why is MaGIC dabbling into the creative arts scene?Khairul Mazwan Ibrahim Pati, Marketing and Community Manager at MaGIC shared: "We want to see more of the Sarawakian arts and trades being innovated and marketed as products and solutions that are known and sold not just in Malaysia but in the global markets too. To do this, we need to first provide our up-and-coming creative youths with a platform where their talents take centre stage. It gives them the visibility, exposure and recognition they deserve while connecting them with new opportunities and collaborations.""We hope through programmes and initiatives like Busker Raya Borneo 744, we can work together with the Sarawak state government and ecosystem players in ensuring that the local aspiring entrepreneurs are well-equipped with the right creative skills, innovative capabilities and a strong network of mentors and partners. We not only want to increase the number of entrepreneurs in Sarawak but to also ensure that the quality of these entrepreneurs are up to par. We want to mould aspiring entrepreneurs to drive the state's path towards economic growth as well as contribute to the nation's economic well being," added Khairul Mazwan.Busker Raya Borneo 744 was held with a three-pronged aim to further reinforce the commitments of MaGIC Sarawak: 1) in evenly spreading the growth of entrepreneurship across the nation, 2) to aid in building a vibrant and sustainable arts and culture scene in Sarawak driven by entrepreneurship, and 3) a creativity and innovation centre for local entrepreneurs that are from six (6) key sectors; arts and crafts, music and radio, film and drama, fashion and design, tourism and hospitality, and animation and media. MaGIC Sarawak @ Borneo 744 equips aspiring and existing entrepreneurs with the relevant skills and capabilities needed for them to build and harness their talents and businesses, as well as promote a new way of creative and innovative thinking that is more focused on identifying opportunities and solving real problems. Through MaGIC's established network, entrepreneurs will also be able to connect with their peers from around the country as well as MaGIC's local and regional partners through programmes, workshops and knowledge sharing sessions.Want to be a part of MaGIC's next creative arts competition? Keep a lookout on https://mymagic.my/events/?fwp_event_date=upcoming for updates. Already have group ready to busk the night away? Let our team know that you need a space by contacting us at sarawak@mymagic.my and we will work our MaGIC!Written by Reshmi Haran