Ministry to look into rolling out grants and assistance for creative arts industry in Sarawak

Abdul Karim (right) receives a token of appreciation from Pua Kumbu masterweaver Bangie Embol at the Tenun Fashion Week 2021 held at Old Courthouse Kuching on Oct 17, 2021.

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By Nur Ashikin Louis

KUCHING, Oct 18: The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Sarawak (MTAC) will look into rolling out grants and assistance to the creative arts industry in Sarawak through the newly announced Heritage, Arts and Culture Facilitation Fund.

Its minister Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the allocation totalling RM10 million is a first for the ministry and it will be implemented next year.


“We will see how it (the fund) can be disbursed and who can apply for and be entitled to the fund. We are still looking into it because it has just been announced.

“The setting up of the fund reflects the State government’s concern and support for towards the State’s heritage, arts and culture by putting aside certain amounts to be given out to those in the industry,” he said when officiating at Tenun Fashion Week 2021 held at the Old Courthouse Kuching last night (Oct 17).

On Oct 12, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg announced a RM10 million allocation for the setting up of Heritage, Arts and Culture Facilitation Fund in his Sarawak Budget 2022 statement.

At the same time, Abdul Karim said handwoven textiles which used to be a cottage industry is now ready to go mainstream and participate in the fashion world.

He took note that the Ibans and Malays take pride in their heirlooms of pua kumbu, songket and keringkam, with many communities in Sarawak still practising traditional weaving techniques with traditional tools.

“I am very pleased to see that handlooms are not only still in existence; they are in fact thriving.

“This equipment, used only to make fabrics which were worn on special occasions, are now making the kind of fashion that we have just seen here on Tenun Fashion Week.

“The transformation is impressive, and I have the utmost respect for the weavers of today, dedicated towards preserving the knowledge and skills of their ancestors, yet brave enough to experiment, innovate and commercialise their textiles,” he added.

He also commended Pua Kumbu masterweaver Bangie Embol from Rh Gare Tinggang in Sg Kain, Ulu Kapit, who has reached international stature for her work.

She led her entire longhouse in the rituals and practice of pua kumbu weaving and invented natural dye recipes from the plants found in their forests, armed only with the mentorship from a line of master weavers.

The Tenun Fashion Week 2021 were jointly organised by ASEAN Handicraft Promotion and Development Association (AHPADA) and Tanoti. It is supported by MTAC and Maybank Foundation through its Maybank Women Eco Weavers Programme.

Amongst those present were Abdul Karim’s wife Datin Sri Zuraini Abdul Jabbar, MTAC permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee, Society Atelier Sarawak advisor Prof Datuk Dr Khairuddin Abdul Hamid and Datin Dayang Mariani Mohd Zain, and ASEAN Handicraft Promotion and Development Association (AHPADA) president Edric Ong. — DayakDaily

Abdul Karim (front row, centre) in a photo-call with other dignitaries at the Tenun Fashion Week 2021.
Sarawakian artist and Tenun Fashion Week 2021 host Alena Murang (centre) poses for a photo with the models at the event.
Abdul Karim (right) with pua kumbu masterweaver Bangie Embol in a photo call at the Tenun Fashion Week 2021.