With no avenue or revenue, the arts and culture industry is one of those severely affected along with the hospitality industry. These sectors will be the last to reopen, as they will involve crowds and close contact but in the mean the struggling workers, artists and performers are of dire need of assistance.
The COVID-19 pandemic had caused a huge impact on the National Economy and many industries, including the Arts and Culture sector. Based on the Covid-19 Impact Report on the Arts and Culture Sector in 2020, 92% of cultural arts practitioners and administrative workers have been heavily hit as well as 70% have lost almost or all of their income.
The Cultural Economy Development agency (CENDANA) which conducted the report has been calling on the government and corporates to step in to help the industry during this period of crisis. One such company that answered the call was Yayasan Sime Darby which collaborated for the food aid program. The program provides food support Malaysian artists and cultural workers especially those from the performing arts, visual arts, independent music and craft backgrounds whose income had been impacted. This year, the program received a total of 1,500 applications from the arts and culture community who will be given grocery vouchers worth RM160 (for applicants who are single) and RM220 (for those with families) as a means to support for the time being.
Recently the government had also allocated funds from the PERMAI assistance package to keep the commuity going until the reopening take place. Finance Minister, Tengku Zafrul Tengku commented that even with the various stimulus packages announced there is always room for others (private entities) to contribute towards those affected by the pandemic.
Arts and culture will remain a critical source of uniting Malaysians, they will have to hang in there for a bit longer as we close in on the finishing line. As vaccination levels its closer to herd immunityr there is light at the end of the tunnel for not only the sector but for Malaysia as a whole.