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Partners in progress: How Think City is reframing the grant process

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Rejecting the lofty heights of being a benevolent benefactor, Think City instead wants to be partners with their grantees. They emphasise that, “whether it is through public partnerships or through the Think City Grants Programme, (Think City) places high value on working together to create a strong foundation for a better city.”

From providing assistance at the application stage to final touches, Think City is an example of the social involvement they hope to inspire in citizens through the projects they support.

“We are all aiming towards the same goal…a more vibrant, resilient and liveable city” says programme director, Lee Jia Ping. “We want people to feel encouraged and supported in achieving the goals.”

“We are aiming towards the same goal…a more vibrant, resilient and liveable city.”

The Think City grants are not for one-off projects. They are meant to set off a chain reaction where the project inspires community participation and related projects which will revitalize the people and places for years to come. A good example of this is the Butterworth Fringe Festival which had increased numbers of local participants and visitors, as well as inspiring related small events to be held. The event site underwent improvements and upgrades due to the locals and local council investing in it because of BFF. In 2016, feedback from many local residents was that “Butterworth was no longer the sleepy town it used to be.”

Murali Ram, Programme Director of Think City in Butterworth says, “Our future hopes for this annual event is that it will re-instill a sense of pride in the locals here and help them reconnect with all the stories and spaces of Butterworth. We want them to see the value of Butterworth and invest in it, creating a city they want and enjoy.”

Whether focusing on heritage-related projects in George Town or on adapting underused spaces to serve new functions in Butterworth, Think City always seeks to activate community involvement. In the heart of Kuala Lumpur, they are searching to match owners of heritage buildings with social entrepreneurs who need a business space whether for a café, gallery, or co-working space, etc. The idea is to provide the urbanites with a reason to remain in KL instead of emptying out the city centre at the end of the working day.

Think City’s own Arts On The Move (AOTM) initiative, in collaboration with Rapid KL and Prasarana Berhad Malaysia, combines their desire to showcase the arts as well as be a valuable platform for the performers. AOTM hosts professionals performing live every week in the Masjid Jamek LRT station together with an ongoing art exhibition in the connecting tunnel below.

Planned as a long-term initiative which hopes to create a sustainable impact, in just ten months, AOTM has begun attracting regulars who return to the train station specifically to see the show.

This year will show an increase in the number of performances to twice a week and Think City is inviting more visual artists to participate as well.


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Fathimath Nuha
Fathimath Nuha

A bibliophile, Fathimath Nuha is a writer on a quest to craft the perfect sentence.