KOTA KINABALU: The 10th Sabah International Folklore Festival (SIFF) 2015 will be held for five days this year, instead of the nine days as in the previous years in support of the state government’s call for more prudent spending.
Efforts to reduce expenses also included seeking partnerships and sponsorships from corporate and government agencies, cancelling the premier show and limiting the number of participating countries.
Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun said the organizing committee would find ways to save on expenses without compromising the quality of the performances.
For the first time ever, SIFF 2015 will be held at Sabah Cultural Centre in Penampang which has recently been renovated in order to cater for prestigious performances such as orchestra or theatre. The event will run from August 11 to 15.
Masidi, who is also the organizing chairman, said the government had spent RM5.9 million to upgrade the audio system, lighting and seating of Sabah Cultural Centre.
Prior to SIFF 2015, Masidi said the Sabah Cultural Centre would be the venue for Era Sayang Sabah concert and performances by the Jesselton Philharmonic Orchestra and Korea Philharmonic Orchestra.
Speaking to the media after chairing the SIFF 2015 meeting yesterday, Masidi said the committee had identified 189 groups from various countries to invite to the festival.
To date, 27 countries have shown their interest to participate in SIFF 2015, including Slovakia, Australia, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, China, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, New Zealand, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Johor, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Venezuela and others.
“There is no shortage of participants; the real issue is how we can afford to accommodate everyone.”
While the participants are required to purchase their own flight tickets, Masidi said the organizing committee was responsible for providing accommodation and food to the participants during their stay here.
“In support of the government’s call to reduce expenditure this year, we are only accepting 15 countries at the international level.”
The theme of SIFF 2015 is ‘Marriage’, a concept to couple marriage ceremony in cultural dances.
“We want to see the richness of culture, especially in these countries.
“Our intention is to showcase the traditional costumes from all participating countries.”
Through the event, Masidi believes that the participants will have the opportunity to learn the diversity and uniqueness of culture in our state as well.
The International Folk Dance Competition will be held at Sabah Cultural Centre from August 13 to 15. Tickets are RM 10 for children and students aged 17 and below, and RM 30 for adults.
As per previous years, SIFF 2015 also includes the seventh Local Folk Dance Competition open to primary and secondary schools in Sabah.
The Sabah Cultural Board has filtered the contestants at district-level to ensure only high standard teams compete in the state-level dance competition.
Tickets for the Local Folk Dance Competition are RM 5 for children and students aged 17 and below, and RM 10 for adults.
Masidi said there were still tickets available and he hoped the public would support Local Folk Dance Competition as it could promote and enhance the status of our local culture.
Tickets are available for sale at Sabah Cultural Board from April 1 to August 14, 9am to 5pm, and at Sabah Cultural Centre in Penampang from August 1 to 15 from 5pm to 9pm.
Participants will be entertained with performances by buskers before the main events. Photography enthusiasts also have the opportunity to win attractive prizes in the photography contest.
“The Sabah Cultural Board will have the right to the winning photographs and submissions as the photographs may be used for future promotions,” Masidi informed.
Besides that, the public will get to see the costumes of local and international participants in the SIFF Folklore Parade in the city on August 12.
“I find this the main attraction for Kota Kinabalu because the parade showcases the uniqueness of the costumes and cultures of the participants,” Masidi said.
Masidi said there would also be Folk Art Exhibition at the Sabah Art Gallery Conservation Centre from August 11 to 15 that showcased painting and crafts of participating countries.
There is also a handicraft exhibition at Sabah Cultural Centre that will provide opportunity for locals to sell their handicrafts.
On the budget for SIFF 2015, Masidi said there was no specific budget for the festival. Nonetheless, he said the budget for the festival came from the Sabah Cultural Board and the sale of tickets.
This year, Masidi said the organizing committee would not be organizing the premier show.
He said the committee would try to get sponsorships from government agencies and local companies to familiarize big companies in Sabah with the idea that they should be involved to promote our local culture.