“Active, edgy and competitive” is how Bernard Goh, founder and artistic director of Hands Percussion (HANDS) describes the art scene in Malaysia. The contemporary drumming performance movement is making waves around the globe and right here at home, where Goh has his heart and sights set on. Showing his love, support and encouragement for the performing arts, the award-winning percussion troupe is putting on a show complied of their best pieces for a very special show titled “For the Love of…”. As a fundraiser for The Actors Studio which turns 30 the year, as well as KLPAC turning 14, the show celebrates founders of The Actors Studio Joe Hasham and Datuk Faridah Merican and their dedication to the arts. Prestige speaks to Goh about the state of local arts and where we go from here.
The arts scene is blooming as I see it. There are a variety of young groups coming on to the scene. What seems to be interesting and very encouraging is that many are here because they believe that the performing arts truly makes a difference in their lives and for the community they live in. This is an important aspect for survival in the industry, to know your true purpose. It is not easy for even those of us who have been around for 20 to 30 years. More and more it’s become clear that as industry practitioners we need to stand and work together for support and encouragement and to be able to make an impact on our audiences.
Many roles! But a significant one is in its ability to touch and connect people. Be it music, drama or dance (any genre for that matter), each has a way of sparking emotions, connections and conversations. Whether thought provoking, edgy or comedic, a performing arts piece always gets us thinking, talking and feeling. Art makes us question what we think we know.
My team and I have been in the performing arts industry for 22 years. What began as an initiative to merely experiment and enjoy our love for drums and percussion turned into a 10 member (full-time) performing arts group performing locally and internationally. I feel that our greatest role in promoting the arts is coaching school kids the very art we love. Passing on what we embrace and practice on a daily basis for the love of our national heritage is an important role for us.
That a full-time performing arts group that participates regularly in local or international festivals or conventions and stages world-class productions does not need funding. Finances in the local art scene is always a challenge and we usually have to raise funds or apply for sponsorship to finance our projects.
If you believe like we do that the performing arts has great benefits especially for children and the general community, funding for art programs in local schools are much needed. Sponsor our educational programs or events for further development of local children (and adults) and exchange of information between different cultures around the world. And finally, encourage one another to engage in art programs at theatre companies or through corporate events.
The years may be rolling by but there are still dreams to chase and endless things to learn. Otherwise how can we stay current? Through the work that we do, whether it is coaching or performing there are always new people to reach out to, new people to inspire. Our work with the deaf and refugee children has proven to be very positive. We will continue to be inclusive and reach out to those who are not as fortunate as we have been.
Call us! Details are on our website.
Understand who you are and what you want, then pursue it relentlessly. The industry is hectic and very tough, you must be prepared to withstand the journey to get to where you want to be. The journey, however, is worth it!