The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) refers to cultural and creative industries (CCI) as various activities “whose principal purpose is production or reproduction, promotion, distribution or commercialisation of goods, services and activities of a cultural, artistic or heritage-related nature.”
It comprises 11 sectors: advertising, architecture, books, gaming, movies, music, newspapers/magazines, performing arts, radio, television and visual arts.
Alongside the tourism sector, CCI have been hard hit by COVID-19, with museums, festivals, cinemas and performing arts seeing an abrupt drop in revenues around the world due to lockdowns and social distancing measures.
Some industries have been resilient and managed to thrive off of online platforms because of the increasing demand for content streaming during lockdowns.
Digital technology has provided new opportunities for CCI to recover and elevate themselves.
Cultural and creative institutions and industries in Malaysia have been adapting to the situation by using and improving digitisation of cultural content, goods and services.
The Department of Museums Malaysia have rolled out virtual exhibitions, live Q&A sessions with curators and other offerings on their website for exploration and learning.
Virtual museum tours are also being offered by Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, with 12 permanent galleries and over 10,000 artefacts from around the Islamic world.
To those who want to stay updated with the Malaysian creative scene during the pandemic, they can do so by checking out listings and promotions at Kakiseni’s website and social media pages, where they can find various theatre, dance and other live performances that are being conducted virtually.
In order to keep up with the rapid changes in communication, social media is used to help promote cultural and creative activities, boost more interaction with followers and reach new audiences.
More interactive, two-way exchanges with audiences are becoming common, instead of the traditional top-down broadcasting.
Going forward, the pandemic has changed the way we interact with artistic and cultural activities, be it through digital infrastructure or increased focus on more local creative initiatives.
As cultural venues slowly begin reopening, fewer intermissions, digital ticketing and stricter standard operating procedures are to be expected.
Lockdowns and social distancing measures have made it clear of the importance of arts and culture for people’s mental well-being, and possibly their overall health.
Countries are striving to revitalise its CCI in different ways. In Malaysia, the Cultural Economy Development Agency (CENDANA) launched five new recovery initiatives in July and August 2020 to help boost the nation’s art scene.
These funding programmes include performing arts, visual arts, music, crafts and others to support local artists and enable a more accessible art scene.
Such revival efforts are vital for CCI in these trying times, for when they are promoted and developed well, they have immense potential in driving a nation’s socio-economic progress, whether by transforming existing economic structure, creating jobs, promoting innovation, or contributing to an inclusive and sustainable development, among many other advantages.
Read more: A spotlight on creative hubs
Photo from Sarawak Tourism.