WHEN George Town was accorded the Unesco World Heritage Site status in 2008, the state government was prompted to introduce and implement many initiatives to continuously level up the status gained, including introducing George Town Festival in 2010.
Known as ‘A Festival For Everyone’, the best of Penang was brought out through multiple activities over the years, which encompasses the state’s rich multiculturalism, food, heritage and others.
But the highly-anticipated event took to online and hybrid formats in 2020 and 2021 respectively due to Covid.
However, the authenticity of experiencing the festival is best felt physically, and guess what, visitors have reasons to celebrate as the festival is set to return to physical stage this year.
This year’s festival will see 80 programmes covering visual art, theatre, music, dance, film, photography, and more from July 9 to 24, scheduled to take place at various places across the state.
Reporters from Buletin Mutiara had the privilege to speak to the festival director, Jack Wong, as he shared the progress and expectations for this year.
“While there won’t be massive events to draw bigger crowds than what we have planned for this year, 99 per cent of the programmes will be physical.
“We will still strongly follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs), which include sanitising the event halls after each show, encouraging visitors to wear face masks and others.
“We are not completely out of the woods yet. It’s better to be safe than sorry,” Wong said during the interview at his office in Jelutong on June 20.
He also added that the response has been very good so far with more than 50 per cent of tickets sold.
“For example, we will be having a programme called ‘Mozart at the Mansion’ at the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (Blue Mansion).
“The capacity is 250 people at any one time. We have sold 200 tickets so far,” Wong added.
It was learnt that 70 per cent of GTF’s programmes this year will be free to attend.
“It is going to be very special to welcome visitors back after two years of online and hybrid events.
“We truly look forward to bringing excitement and thrills for everyone,” he added.
The other ticketed programme called ‘The Senses’ at The Habitat Penang Hill’s Curtis Crest will be one not to be missed as well.
Other not-to-be-missed ticketed programmes are “Teater Tradisional Makyung ‘DEWA INDERA INDERA DEWA’”, a riveting performance of Mak Yong, an almost extinct Malay traditional performance, and “Ibu”, a Teochew puppet theatre performance which brilliantly combines traditional Teochew art form with modern technology (projection mapping) to tell a story inspired by a famous Southeast Asian folklore.
Story by Kevin Vimal
Pix by Alissala Thian