GEORGE TOWN, June 3 — The annual George Town Festival (GTF) that is usually a month long has been cut to 16 days this year due to lower allocations this year.
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the state only allocated RM3 million for this year’s edition of the international arts and culture festival.
“It has to be shorter than previous years due to the lower budget but it will be over three long weekends,” he told a press conference jointly held with Penang exco Yeoh Soon Hin and TLM Event that took over GTF this year.
Chow said the state government decided to call a request for proposal (RFP) for GTF 2019 and TLM Event was selected from among nine proposals received.
“We wanted something new and we have received feedback over the years, that’s why the RFP was called to appoint a new event organiser for GTF,” he explained when asked why the state had not called for RFPs for GTF in the past nine years.
GTF was previously organised by Joe Sidek Productions with Joe Sidek as the festival director since its debut in 2009.
Chow said that in previous years, the budget for GTF was RM4.5 million and the state wanted to cut it to RM3 million this year.
The RFP was called by George Town World Heritage Inc (GTWHI) between September and November last year.
GTWHI department of communications and collaborations manager Josephine Jalleh said one requirement for the RFP was that proposers must tailor their programmes to fit the budget.
“Another criterion is that the 70 per cent of the events must be free to attend and a majority of the programmes must be by local artists,” she said.
She said TLM’s proposal met the criteria and they were given a two-year contract.
This year, GTF will be held from July 13 to 28 and will feature 150 programmes themed “A Festival for Everyone”.
Chow said there will be 14 specially-curated ticketed shows covering dance, theatre, forum, talk, fashion, music, comedy and film.
He said there will also be symposiums such as the “Great New World - From Free Port to World Heritage Site” and “Isle to Isle: Design Forum”.
He said highlights the public could look forward to include ballerinas on stilts and projection mapping in When Night Falls, the artistic frenzy of Art in The City and an art bash in The Extravaganza.
“Through our community engagement programmes such as Macam Macam Macallum and Macam Macam Berapit, we will be taking the festival out from traditional arts venues and into other community spaces to expose new arts and cultural experiences to communities who might not engage with the festival,” he said.
He added that this is particularly important in a community which may perceive the arts to be elitist.
“In other words, we are delivering the festival straight to the doorsteps of the people in Macallum Street Ghaut and Berapit,” he said.