Art, as it is, is considered to be profound and delicate as it often tells the tale of the broken and vulnerable. Yet, art is what continues to empower leaders in the pursuit of change. Above all, art is a catalyst because it leads to action.
In recognition of this, the honorary title of Gamechanger for the BOH Cameronian Arts Awards (BCAA), founded by Kakiseni, is to appreciate those who have made great contributions to their respective fields in addition to making their mark in an international arena.
This year marks the 15th BOH Cameronian Art Awards (15BCAA), and the second year of having Gamechangers, the art industry has come a long way and having the BCAA, or the Cammies, commend and value the underrepresented arts scene will only drive it to flourish.
Kakiseni has chosen this year’s Gamechangers to be Aida Redza, a choreographer and performer driven with purpose, Raz Azraai, a rising guitarist and event curator based in Los Angeles, and Sharu Delilkan, a publicist, theatre producer and a journalist with an affinity for hats. All of them also presented the awards at the Cammies!
With this year’s theme being City of Creation, each gamechanger hail from different walks of life and different fields, but are driven by the same goal of connecting and engaging the community in the act of creating.
Dancing and performing in advocacy for social issues and the environment, Aida Redza is a choreographer and performer who merges contemporary dance with traditional Malay dance. Starting in 1995, Aida primarily works on site-specific work and also occasionally performs on the street, where she works with the space to tell a tale.
Hoping to communicate to the towns and villages through arts, Aida goes through the tedious process of mapping and interviewing the community to learn of their concerns to translate it to a story.
Known for her development of dance within the young, her performances feature young dancers and newcomers as she teaches them how a story is expressed through dance. Taking on 3 methods of approach.
Most of her performances feature young dancers and newcomers, she teaches them how a story is expressed through dance. Taking on 3 methods of approach, teaching her dancers and the community to be a warrior, dalang, or storyteller, and healer.
To be a warrior is to care and love for the community, to fight to eradicate the issues which plague the village. To be a dalang, is to translate the problem to be comprehensible, to invite them into the story. Finally, to be a healer, one must strive to heal the disease, to no longer allow it to manifest and to make a change.
Her and her dancers often practice on site, where they can be intuitive with the space and the project, to make the connections they need to, to build a story. The dancers trained in the paddy field for 3 months for Moved by Padi, a performance project by Aida, as grew and learnt the space as well as they replanted the paddy.
Her other work includes The River Art Project, a performance to shed light on the depleting state of the rivers due to the rubbish that plagues it.
Her work which is often settled in Penang is due to the rich history of street performers in Penang as there is an audience and a crowd that is able to appreciate and watch their performance. Theatregoers are rare in Penang, therefore street performances are the best way to capture the hearts of the community.
In relation to theme of City of Creation, not only are Aida and her dancers creating, but the community as well. It is a gotong-royong, she says. Through her work which is collaborative, both with musicians and the community, she instills a sense of pride and care within them as they grow and create together. It sends a message that everyone has the ability to create and be apart of something bigger.
The second gamechanger, Raz Azraai, a talented guitarist with a love for music, art, comedy, community and partying.
Having resided in Los Angeles for the past 8 years, Raz has continued to build a name for himself with his guitar playing skills which transcend genres and being a member of Meen Streets, a retro rock band. Deciding that he wanted to do more than just play gigs where they would just come and go, Raz combined his 5 loves, music, art, comedy, community and partying, to form the Geo Metro Party Culture.
The Geo Metro Party Culture is a Los Angeles creative hub in itself. Initially starting off in bars, the Geo Metro Party Culture is a tribute to those who love retro as the party features bands that only play retro music, art installations, balloons and so much more.
In a sea of bands and artists trying to stamp their mark in the competitive American music scene, instead of waiting for opportunities to come by, Raz is creating an opportunity of his own. Being blessed with the resources and the privilege which they have, they are moving forward with their own vision, because “style eliminates competition”.
The party now takes place in a warehouse, which has a 90’s Geo Metro car, an inspiration to the party’s name. The party continues to break boundaries and stereotypes of party-goers, it is more than just a space where people get drunk, it is the sense of belonging they feel. It is the reason why cliques exist.
The connectivity and love within the community which continues to thrive thanks to the Geo Metro Party Culture. Another component of the party which allows for community is their use of comedy, Raz and his bandmates release comedic teasers leading up to the party, which takes place monthly now.
Raz strongly believes comedy and laughter is what brings people together. It is the happiness which creates the bond of a community.
The brand of the Geo Metro Party Culture hopes to move forward, to become a franchise to reach those far and wide. Yet, Raz recognizes that the brand has to adapt in order to be receptible. He continues to do this all in the name of community.
Finally, Raz encourages all Malaysians to stop wasting their life with lepak in order to move forward and create and pursue what they love.
Reaching out to a crowd often neglected by the Arts community, Raz is bridging gaps and tearing down stereotypes as he reassures party lovers that they belong in the stereotypically condescending art scene. He is inviting all to be apart of the City of Creation, no matter how unorthodox and inappropriate it may be.
Finally, there is Sharu Delilkan, who is the person behind Sharu Loves Hats, a production company. Truly a woman of many talents, Sharu takes charge of the publicity, marketing, producing, theatre reviewing, and most recently offshore-broking.
The hats which she wears represent virtual hats that aid her in brain-storming as she approaches a situation or production with a multitude of methods.
Throughout the years she has dabbled in many fields of the arts industry, often only pursuing what she had a passion for. Deciding to travel the whole of the Pacific region with her husband, it was New Zealand where she landed when she had run out of cash, and she has been there ever since.
As she the years flew by, she found herself growing increasingly excited for the arts, especially theatre, driving her urge to collaborate with people to produce productions of her own.
The most recent theatre production being Dominion Road: The Musical, which showcases the stories of the immigrants that live on the multicultural road. In order to ensure the story was as authentic as possible, Sharu engaged semi-professional actors who lived on Dominion Road and professional actors to be apart of the musical.
Sharu decided, being a Malaysian, that the best way to engage the community was through food. Sponsored by the Dominion Road Business Association and Creative New Zealand, an NGO which helps fund artistic projects, the wide range of diverse multicultural food provided allowed a sense of community to be built.
The production which took a year and a half to complete also included community engagers who spoke to restaurant owners to learn about their stories and struggles.
Having engaged the community, word of the musical spread far and wide as restaurant owners, being proud that they were represented, would promote the show to customers, friends and family.
Extending her work beyond the realm of professionals and regular theatre-goers, Sharu was able to connect with such a diverse community through their common experience of being an immigrant.
Being an immigrant herself, Sharu knows the lack of belonging all too well as she came to a land knowing nobody else. Though it is not a true story, Dominion Road is an authentic story of the population who despite being incredibly brave, is often overlooked.
It is through her passion that she is able to drive for a production which involves the participation of community despite the tedious process.
The work of the Gamechangers are invitations to be apart of an art much bigger than themselves. It is an extension of their passion which they hope to cultivate and grow. In her seemingly minuscule and individual works, Sharu is growing with the diverse and rich City of Creation.
Budgets often inhibit their work, never having sufficient funds to fulfill what they envision. It calls on for us to value arts and culture and the impact they are able to make. As they continue to aid communities in their struggles, we, as a community, must do the same for them.
The work of the Gamechangers illustrate that there is no one way to succeed and that there is not just one type of outreach programme. Redefining the pathway to arts, they are teaching us all that it is us that must extend our hand for the growth of the arts.
Often we think Malaysian art representation is limited to internationally known Michelle Yeoh and Yuna, it leads us to believe a name must be known, that a person must be seen to be successful. These Gamechangers are proving that commercial success is not the only way that one can make their mark. In each of their fields and community, they are changing lives and pursuing works that they are passionate about. The path of the arts is intimidating and uncertain, but fulfilling nonetheless.
A creation is more than just a product, it is an act and a process. In each of our endeavors, it is the act of creating, no matter what the finished or unfinished product is, it entitles us to a citizenship in the City of Creation. The City of Creation is not exclusive nor is it hard to find. In all our works, even individual personal ones, we embody the City of Creation in ourselves.
As creators breathe life into their works, the vibrancy of art scene is to be a living breathing city. It is not the buildings, such as sprawling skyscrapers or decorative museums, it is about the people and the community that grows and create together. Gamechangers Aida Redza, Raz Azraai and Sharu Delilkan have demonstrated as such through their initiatives and work, reaching out to communities and making connections.
Arts has never just been for the melancholic and pretentious, it is for whoever that wishes to impart a piece of themselves in their works. Yet, art extends past the realms of consumerism. It is more than just a point on a wall and music to listen to, it is accessibility. It is to create a platform, an opportunity, to create for themselves, to be more than just consumers.
To watch the full broadcast, watch the video below!
The forum took place at Space.Tocatta, an art space located in SS2, Petaling Jaya, is dedicated to fostering art, music and culture.