Thursday, August 22

WAK: A highly-anticipated festival that sparked interest, action from local community


WAK 2018 collaborators, volunteers, partners and organisers join Abdul Karim for a group photo after the reveal of this year’s WAK calendar. -All photos courtesy of Jee Photography.

Abdul Karim (centre) accepting a memento from Foo (second right) during the event. Also seen here are (from left) Tan, Lee and Hii.

The courtyard at the Old Courthouse was festive, with collaborators such as the children and instructors from Beats Dance and Vocal Studio demonstrating the Kiddies Latin Dance.

A representative from Cardboard City 2018 explains their mission to Abdul Karim (left) and Lee (second left) during their tour of the collaborators.

Abdul Karim (third right) showing memento from Wordsmiths of Kuching (WoK) – a commemorative poem written with his help. Also seen here are Lee (second right), festival directors Marina Foo (far left) and Donald Tan (second left, back), together with members from WoK.

KUCHING: What About Kuching (WAK) is only in its second year but is already a highly-anticipated festival that sparked interest and action from the local community, particularly those who practice or enjoy some form of art and culture.

While the number of events and collaborators remain around the same figure, there was a new level of sophistication and direction during WAK’s first official outing last Wednesday at The Old Courthouse.

The event was the WAK 2018 Calendar Reveal, something that signalled to Kuching and beyond that the community is all set and ready to go.

Groups with merchandise to sell and performance skills to show came out in full force, giving courtyard perimeters of the Old Courthouse a bright atmosphere brimming with anticipation.

For many of the collaborators, it was also a first look at what other groups are doing in October.

Speaking at the event, Tourism, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said that it was beautiful to see young people of Kuching show their talents and turn Kuching into an exciting place.

“We can see Kuching has lots of talent. We want to see them giving back to society,” he said.

He added that his ministry sees this young annual festival as an investment in the creative communities of Kuching because it is truly a festival by the community for the community.

October is traditionally a month when the tourism calendar slows down, so it seemed a perfect time for the locals to step in and stir up some excitement.

“I hope that with all these events in place, it will make Kuching a more exciting place in October. Ask your friends to come,” said Karim.

Also present at the event were Tourism, Arts and Culture Assistant Minister Lee Kim Shin, ministry permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee, and festival directors Donald Tan and Marina Foo.

Tan said that WAK is a sum of many parts, with many content providers coming together to form a collective.

“The sound of a collective is louder than one or two person.”

This year, the WAK 2018 collective is 76 events and 50 collaborators loud. From 29 September to 28 October, Kuching and savvy culture seekers from around the region will be able to hear, see and immerse themselves in music, theatre, exhibitions, poetry and more.

Kicking off at the tail-end of this month are exhibitions and urban adventures.

For the first time, Kuching will see award-winning photos from the International World Press Photo Exhibition 2018, on display at Padang Merdeka. On Sept 29-30, there are also workshops at The Waterfront Hotel led by established photojournalists from the World Press.

The Brooke Gallery is in on the festival this year, offering a month of fun activities and immersive experiences at Fort Margherita, along with The Ranee Exhibition.

Sarawak is famous for its tattoo culture, and the exhibition ‘Tattooing Nature: An Exploration of Natural Aesthetics’ is a chance to see the art of several tattoo artists as they showcase nature and skin. This will be followed by a talk on Sept 30 at the Old Courthouse on the preservation of tattoo artifacts.

Kuching is also famous for being a foodie heaven, so get your safari hats on and go on the Padungan Food Safari to sample every specialty on their trail map.

Meanwhile, The Spring’s Oktoberfest also begins on Sept 29 and will run for 10 nights.

Enjoy live music at Waterfront Night Live at the GoDown Amphitheatre at Kuching Waterfront or treat yourself to a piece of art made by young entrepreneurs at the Junior Art Market at the Ground Floor of Chemsains, Jalan Rock.

The first of the literary art events happen on Sept 30 with ‘Suara Hati’, a storytelling workshop at Waterfront Hotel led by spoken word poet Jamal Raslan. This will be followed by a showcase named ‘Gema’, held at Sadau Rooftop Bar at Singgahsana Lodge the same evening.

And them comes October and all WAK has to offer.

For a full calendar, go to or pick up a booklet for free at participating venues or strategic locations in the city.