Jun 28 2011
A few months ago, I was reading a Tourism Malaysia leaflet and stumbled upon a reference to the Kuala Lumpur Festival. I was somewhat surprised, as despite living here for more than four years, I was completely unaware of the city even having an arts festival. It turns out I was not alone. I asked my friends, both local and foreign, and nobody had ever heard of it. An extensive internet search drew an almost total blank. I found the festival’s website, but all it consisted of was a logo, and a promise of more information in the future.
The only conclusion I could draw from all this was that the KL Festival was no big deal, a minor event that would prove to be of little interest to visitors. It came as somewhat of a shock then in mid-June to finally find out some more information about the festival. It turns out that more than 120 events are due to be held, at 51 different venues, during the month of July. What’s more, the tourism authorities are predicting that the festival will attract 700,000 local and foreign visitors to Kuala Lumpur.
I looked again at the Tourism Malaysia website, and found a full and informative write-up on the festival. Not. Instead, the 39 words provided were a triumph of non-information. I was directed to the festival website, which was now filled with useful details. In Malay. Yes, that’s right, all 700,000 of the culture vultures heading to KL for the festival are expected to be fluent in Bahasa Melayu. The website has an “English” button, but apart from the chapter headings, almost nothing is actually written in English.
The shame of all this is that the festival could be a great way to attract tourists to KL. The breadth of culture being showcased is enough to suit almost any taste, from opera to pop concerts, from contemporary art to traditional games. Of course, a large number of events seem to have been included under the festival umbrella for no reason other than to make up numbers. But enough quality exists at the main venues (listed below), to allow the festival slogan of “Where the arts come alive” to not be a total joke.
The Actors Studio @ Lot 10
The Rooftop, Level 8A, Lot 10 Shopping Centre, 50 Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2142 2009 (box office)
The Annexe Gallery
1st & 2nd Floor, Central Market Annexe, Jalan Hang Kasturi, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2070 1137
10 Jalan Hang Kasturi, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2031 0399
Dewan Filharmonik Petronas
Level Two, Tower Two, Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, Kuala Lumpur
Level 3, Suria KLCC, Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 2051 7770
Jalan Kuantan, off Jalan Tun Razak, Titiwangsa, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 4026 5555
Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre
Sentul Park, Jalan Strachan, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 4047 0910 (enquiries); (03) 4047 0900 (box office)
Malaysia Tourism Centre
109 Jalan Ampang, KLCC, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 9235 4848
National Art Gallery
2 Jalan Temerloh, off Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur
T: (03) 4025 4990
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