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JB Arts Festival – First timer’s guide to pitching your project

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What chance does your performance have of being selected for the upcoming Johor Bahru Arts Festival?  A better one if you know what is expected. Charmaine Wong is one of the Festival’s administrators and here she provides a short list of do’s and don’ts for applicants. 


Tie into the concept
To encourage a sense of community, every year the Johor Bahru Arts Festival brings performers together under a common theme. In 2017, the theme is In Motion. “As long as they tie in with our theme they will be considered,” says Charmaine.

Activities around the main festival streets, Jalan Tan Hiok Nee

Stand out

While anyone can apply, the organizers have limited venues and funding. This means the organizers have to make choices and obviously the best, most original content will rise to the top of the pile.

Consider budget

Again, keep in mind that this Festival does a lot with limited resources. “If the fee tied to the work is way over our affordability levels, then we’re unfortunately going to have to turn it down.”

Promote yourself

Naturally, the Festival will promote your work. However, “it helps when artists have given serious consideration towards the marketing plan for their performance or workshop.” So while you will have a whole new audience at the festival, you’ll get the greatest numbers if “you also tap into your existing followers.”

A little sharing session by Datin Orked Ahmad after screening a series of Yasmin Ahmad movies


Misuse the stage

Works that only serve to “beat down political figures or parties, or are ridiculously racist or strongly biased against a certain religion” are not likely to get chosen for the festival. When it comes to works that too strongly disrupt political or religious sensitivities,“sorry lah, our hands are tied.”

Forget the audience

The JB Arts Festival accepts submissions from anywhere in the world, provided that local audiences find it relevant. Charmaine explains that “not every performance that does well in their home state or country would do well (at the Festival), simply because of cultural and social context.”

Tourists and locals collaborate and learn the Chinese drums

All things considered, DO give it a shot and reach out to the organizers if you have any questions. DON’T let doubt deny audiences the chance to see what you have to offer. Get more information as well as a link to their website and online application form here.

*Main image: Local muralist, Akeem working on his mural as part of the Bangsa Johor Wall, a 4-mural collaboration.

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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.