Second call for Cultural Economy Catalytic Grants in the northern region

by HAZATUL SYIMA HARON / pics source: Think City

URBAN impact organisation Think City is making a second call for its Cultural Economy Catalytic Grants Programme in the northern states of Peninsular Malaysia. 

The new application period began Aug 23, 2022. The announcement was made in response to the overwhelming applications that were received for the first cycle.

The grants programme aims to leverage Malaysia’s unique tangible and intangible assets as enablers for re-generative socio-economic growth and development of the community’s cultural, economic and social capital.

This is intended to create employment and investment opportunities, in line with the objectives of the Northern Region Archaeotourism Network & Local Economic Development programme — a Think City initiative under the auspices of the Ministry of Finance (MoF).

Think City and the MoF, with the support of the state governments and local councils, hope to encourage the discovery of hidden gems along the northern cultural corridors.

This would also activate local community development resources, stimulate culture-based tourism and community enterprises, and boost public interest in a network of archaeological, cultural and natural sites and stories.

The initial areas of focus for the first cycle of the Cultural Economy Catalytic Grants Programme included Lenggong, Kuala Kangsar and Taiping in Perak.

Think City hopes to encourage applications from other significant sites such as Guar Kepah, Sungai Batu, Lembah Bujang, Alor Setar, mangrove reserves such as Sungai Prai, nature reserves such as Royal Belum and Perlis.

The new applicants would hopefully contribute ideas on bolstering the historical and cultural significance of these places, and how these projects will benefit the local communities.

The first cycle of the grants programme saw 23 diverse and ambitious applicants successfully selected — 53% approved for Content Creation, 32% for Capacity Building and Advocacy, and 15% for Demonstration.

More than 40% female participants received funding and overall, the grant programme will support seven individual applications and 16 organisations.

Think City MD Hamdan Abdul Majeed said the organisation, founded by Khazanah Nasional Bhd in 2009, has identified potential nodes in the northern region to enhance culture-based experiences.

He said Think City will continue to support grantees who can deepen and diversify visitors’ journeys and broaden the public’s understanding of the region’s cultural significance.

Grant beneficiary Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Prof Stephen Chia Ming Soon said the funding would allow the archaeological findings discovered in Lenggong to be shared with the local community. 

“The grant will also facilitate the expansion of our Training & Young Archaeologists’ Capacity Building Programme, which aims to build the local capacity within Lenggong by educating content providers such as tourists guides and local communities. 

“The grant will also enable us to help improve the socio-economic situation in Lenggong by involving the local community, creating new jobs within the tourism industry, and teaching the future generations of Lenggong to appreciate and protect its historical heritage and culture.”

(From left) Grant beneficiaries Chia, Abdul Nasir, Liew and Mohd Suhaimi. Abdul Nasir says the grant enables him to draw more visitors to Lenggong and its surrounding areas, while Liew aims to publish her books so that the people can explore the soul of a town through her books, rather than rely on brochures

Meanwhile, recipient Abdul Nasir Jalaludin the grant enables him to draw more visitors to the cultural gems in Lenggong and its surrounding areas.

The owner of family-run heritage stay Rumah Tiang 16 said: “We welcome visitors from all over the world to our heritage stay especially since we offer a truly unique archaeotourism experience based on the cultural sites of Lenggong and its community-based tourism products. 

“Our website is visited by people from all over the world who are looking for information on Lenggong. A website that has professionally-captured images and well-developed narratives and write-ups could enhance the appeal of Lenggong and contribute to generating more interest and attracting visitors to the area. 

“The grant will enable us to achieve this.”

According to writer Liew Suet Fun, the grant enables her to publish two books titled “Beguiled On Larut Hills” and “After Long Rainy Afternoons of Taiping and Her People”. 

Lieu said people can explore the soul of a town through her books, rather than rely on brochures. 

For grant beneficiary Mohd Suhaimi Ahmad the grant will help fund improvement works at the Che Teh Fatimah Community Wakaf House, which he founded three years ago.

“The facility is a popular centre for various activities that bring the local folks together irrespective of race and religion with its mission of community empowerment and cooperation. The support will enable a local folk like me to give back to the community.”

Visit www.thinkcity.com.my/budaya for more information on how the grant can help creative ideas become a reality.