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“George Town In The New Normal” Project Helps Local Old-School Penang Businesses Gain Digital Footing

“George Town In The New Normal” Project Helps Local Old-School Penang Businesses Gain Digital Footing

The preservation of local culture and heritage lies with us.

Anne Dorall

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Penang has been heavily promoting their local culture, especially their traders, artisans, and craftsmen who bring such unique life to George Town through art, music, and handicrafts.

Sadly, the pandemic and the drastic drop in tourism has left all these artists struggling, losing touch with their craft and unable to promote their art online.

Siew Buck Teik, the original Rattan furniture maker sitting near the Rattan furniture here at Seang Hin Leong Rattan shop at Lebuh Pantai. (Credit: Malay Mail)

The George Town World Heritage Incorporated, a state-government agency established in 2010 to manage, safeguard, and promote the city as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has noted the hardships faced by these artists.

As such, they launched the George Town in the New Normal project back in July, aimed specifically to help local Penang artists get by and put their craft online.

The project includes supporting local business via digital upskilling, financial reimbursement for repair of heritage buildings, and video-capturing of cultural heritage practitioners.

A Penang-based jeweler making a brooch in honour of his Peranakan grandmother.
(Credit: Oxlaey/Flickr)

Much of their priority lies with long-term, old-school local businesses that have been operating for over 10 years, in fears that such arts might be lost during this time.

Can you imagine a George Town without deftly-made rattan furniture, beautiful pottery, unique Hokkien opera troupes, porcelain crafters, or even well-beloved bantal busuk-makers?

As such, the organization is putting their efforts into preserving these arts and promoting them online as a way to help these craftsmen reconnect with their craft and give them a way to still do business.

The project is expected to be able to help over 3,000 local business within George Town. It’s a fantastic example of how the community is coming together to help each other during this time.

If we’re not the ones to protect our culture and heritage, who will?

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