Yayasan Sime Darby Arts Festival Returns August 2023

After five years, Malaysia’s largest arts festival returns.

Indian dance at Yayasan Sime Darby Arts Fest Malaysia. Music Press Asia

The Yayasan Sime Darby Arts Festival (YSDAF), Malaysia’s largest free-for-all arts festival has finally returned after five long years.

YSDAF 2023-themed “Shout it Out: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow” kicked off in February, and will end with a final celebration on Aug 19 and 20, 2023. Presented by the Yayasan Sime Darby and The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC), the biennial festival has not only created 2,600 job opportunities for artistes and arts workers, but brought the arts to around 50,000 festival goers. This has been a nationwide highlight of the local arts calendar since 2014.

Diversity & Inclusivity

YSDAF 2023 is inviting its participants to ‘Shout It Out’ on issues that lie in the collective future of humanity; be it the arts, community, health, education or environment.

As the only festival in Malaysia to have its crew undergo Disability Equality Training (DET) and Disability Related Services Training (DRST), YSDAF continues its efforts to promote inclusivity and diversity in the spirit of ‘arts for all’.

Wayang Kulit at Sime Darby Art Fest. Music Press Asia
[A child performs the local ‘Wayang Kulit’ which is literally translated as skin film, or paper puppets at klpac.]

“Yayasan Sime Darby is excited to welcome the return of the YSD Arts Festival after a long COVID hiatus. Aside from celebrating the arts, this festival was and will continue to be a great representation and platform for inclusivity and diversity of our society via our local art scene, highlighting the various important causes that Yayasan Sime Darby supports under our 5 pillars,” said Y.A.M. Tunku Tan Sri Imran Ibni Almarhum Tuanku Ja’afar, Chairman of Yayasan Sime Darby.

“We look forward to unveiling meaningful exhibitions, performances, and showcases that will reach a wider audience through easy accessibility, and greater collaboration of the arts industry,” he added.

Developing New Talents

Featuring an all-Malaysian body, YSDAF 2023 has plans to develop the Malaysian art industry – by introducing fresh young talents and creative producers to collaborate with experienced and specialized powerhouses.

Executive Producer & Co-Founder of klpac, Dato’ Faridah Merican said this year’s festival promises a wonderful celebration for everyone in the Malaysian family.

[Drum session workshop and performance at YSDAF at klpac.]

“We have almost 350 showcases and activities planned in 19 pocket locations around klpac. It involves approximately 1,000 artists and crew and is expected to attract at least 18,000 festival goers.”

“Nowhere else will you be able to sample such a wide variety of what the local arts scene can offer from the traditional to the contemporary, dance to theatre, mainstream to the experimental. The festival also includes hands-on workshops, demonstrations, installations, screenings and more, spread over 48 hours,” she added.

What is Pitch Start?

YSDAF 2023 will be kicking off six months of activities via Pitch Start – an open call for project ideas. This project provides a chance for artists and arts groups to submit creative proposals – in any language or genre – that may stand a chance to be premiered at the festival finale. And a chance to win a grant of up to RM20,000.

Faridah Merican to produce Yayasan Sime Darby Arts Festival 2023. 450Tatler Asia. Music Press Asia

“Nowhere else will you be able to sample such a wide variety of what the local arts scene can offer from the traditional to the contemporary, dance to theatre, mainstream to the experimental.

– Faridah Merican, Executive Producer & Co-Founder of klpac.

The project is on the lookout for innovative ideas from a Malaysian perspective that would expand the festival theme ‘Yesterday, Today or Tomorrow’. So do you have an innovative idea for a curated interactive mixed media or art exhibition to feature? If yes, the open call is now open with a looming closing date for submission on April 30, 2023.

View guidelines and application forms via YSDAF official website, here.

Leading up to the grand finale, other highlights in the coming months include open auditions for the festival’s Gala Night, a performing arts training program for the disabled, a Radiohead tribute and more.

This comeback since the postponement of its 2020 festival because of the pandemic will be its fourth edition. To view the festival schedule and venue, click here.

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