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Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD)

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In a heartbeat

Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) is the philanthropic arm of Malaysia-based multinational Sime Darby Berhad. The foundation revolves around five pillars, one of which is a commitment for arts and culture. This commitment includes support for projects and activities in the performing arts. YSD sponsors initiatives empower the industry with knowledge and skills to enrich Malaysia’s arts scene.

A closer examination

Centring around five pillars of education, environment, community and health, youth & sports, and arts & culture; the foundation has been supporting projects, companies, and individuals across these areas allowing them to survive and thrive. The foundation, which first introduced scholarships in 1982, focuses on supporting causes which are uniquely Malaysian, sustaining them locally and giving them a platform to take our country to the world. The arts & culture pillar, in particular, allows Malaysian creators and practitioners to grow under the guidance of expert beneficiaries from the industry.

As Chief Executive Officer of the Sime Darby Foundation, Puan Hajjah Yatela Zainal Abidin puts it, “few countries in the world are as multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-racial as Malaysia is. There is such a richness in our society, and the types of arts and culture we have that are unique to our nation. Having arts & culture as one of our main pillars allows us, as a foundation, to support this uniqueness and showcase it to the world.”

Since 2009, the foundation has committed RM17.7 million towards Malaysian arts & culture; including to the 7th JB Arts Festival(2010), Connecting Communities: National Dance Tour (2010) and Get Malaysia Dancing (2011 – 2016) both by ASWARA (Akademi Seni Kebangsaan dan Warisan Malaysia), Five Arts Centre’s tenTenTEN (2014 – 2015), Tropfest SEA 2015, and the Borak Arts Conference 2014. Also, following the successful inaugural Yayasan Sime Darby Arts Festival 2014, the foundation hopes to make the event a bi-yearly tradition. The 2nd Yayasan Sime Darby Arts Festival will take place later this year in August.

Acknowledging that they are not always experts in the areas they support, the Sime Darby Arts Foundation has regular meetings with key industry stakeholders to find out exactly what the industry and those involved need for growth and sustainability.

Currently, this pillar supports three areas; arts and culture encouragement, arts demand development, and arts education and empowerment. Some of the projects included in these areas include a mentor-mentee programme, a pitch session for fund projects in the arts, a certificate in animation in partnership with Kolej Yayasan Sabah, an arts museum and a project for capacity building in partnership with The British Council.

But what, if anything, does The Sime Darby Foundation expect in return from these beneficiaries? “We want them to keeps the arts alive,” Puan Yatela explains, “we want them to practice with the highest level of ethics, with documentation and full transparency. Then keep the industry growing and sustainable. For example, Fairul (foundation beneficiary and ASWARA alumni Fairul Zahid, who is currently studying Dance Performance and Choreography at the Tisch School of the Arts in New York University), is an amazing dancer and is getting very good feedback. With all that experience and education, we hope he contributes to the country’s arts. Which,” she laughs, “I have no doubt he will”.

For an in-depth guide to applying to The Sime Darby Foundation, click here.

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Amy De Kanter
Amy De Kanter

Former Chief Editor, frequent contributor and enthusiastic audience member, Amy is thrilled to have a job that lets her do three of the things she loves most.