Making a pitch for an IMB2P grant

The strong support of Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) to local Art & Culture projects through their Iskandar Malaysia Beyond Boundaries Programme (IMB2P) has led to their offer of similar grants to the second batch of applicants.

An applicant making her pitch with a visual presentation
to the Award Committee in Day One of Pitching Sessions
The IMB2P is a mobility fund to support the Art & Culture pursuits by artists, practitioners and performers who are keen to explore or get involved in a collaborative project with international partner/s in Iskandar Malaysia, within Malaysia or abroad.

Applicants are encouraged to submit their applications in three categories and after being reviewed by IRDA, the shortlisted applicants will be invited to make their pitch to the Award Committee.

The categories are for [A] Exploration and Networking (Up to RM8,000 per application), [B] Collaborative Outbound Project (Up to RM10,000 per application) and [C] Collaborative Inbound Project (Up to RM20,000 per application).

The Award Committee on Day One of Pitching Sessions
I had the privilege to be part of the Award Committee to meet the first batch of applicants last year and this year, I was delighted to witness how the IMB2P grants have helped successful applicants to achieve their project goals.

Among them were filmmakers, artists, poets, costume jewellery makers and martial arts exponents.

I am fully aware of the serious responsibility of the Award Committee who play a vital role in making a difference to the applicants’ future because I saw how these art and culture practitioners have been helped by the IMB2P grants.

I just feel deeply honoured to be part of their journey in the pursuit of preserving art and culture in Iskandar Malaysia and will do my part to encourage and support them as they take the next bold step forward.

Members of the Award Committee [Left to Right]
Tan Chai Puan, Peggy Loh and Amir Shahlan Amiruddin
Recently, I was again invited to participate with IRDA as a member of the Award Committee to meet with the batch two applicants, invited to present their plans and proposals to the Committee.

Then I was informed that due to the large number of shortlisted applicants, they would meet the Award Committee to make their pitch, over two separate days.

In Day One of the Pitching Session, I was joined by three more members in the Award Committee including Tan Chai Puan, a Johor cultural activist recognised by the Department of National Heritage with the prestigious Warisan Orang Hidup award.

For his passion in preserving culture and heritage in Iskandar Malaysia, Tan was also honoured with the award in the Arts & Culture (Individual) category at the 4th Iskandar Malaysia Social Hero Awards (IMSHA).

Raymond Koh, describing the
technique involved in Pyrography
On a personal note, I had the pleasure of featuring Tan as an exclusive subject under Portraits in my book, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage.

The Award Committee was completed by Amir Shahlan Amiruddin, Dean of the Faculty of Cinematic Arts in the Multi-Media University and Norkamarulazman Nordin from IRDA’s Strategic Communications Department.

After meeting Dean Amir Shahlan last year as a member of the Award Committee for the first batch of applicants, we met again early this year as fellow speakers in a TEDx Talk organised by the University of Southampton Malaysia.

In Day Two of the Pitching Session, my colleagues in the Award Committee were Ghazali Bunari, better known as Tok Rimau, IRDA Vice-President Daisy Harry and representative from Think City Johor Baru, Shahril Abdul Manan.

The itinerary for the Pitching Sessions was arranged with a total of 17 applicants per day, who would present their proposals to the Award Committee in a tightly scheduled timetable, limited to a total of 20 minutes per presentation.

Award Committee for Day Two of Pitching Sessions [L to R]
Shahril Abdul Manan, Daisy Harry, Peggy Loh and
Ghazali Bunari, better known as Tok Rimau
Members of the IRDA secretariat was on hand to keep a close watch on the time allocated and ensured that each applicant had maximized their opportunity to impress the Award Committee with their pitch.

Most of the applicants came prepared for their presentations in a precious 20-minute pitching session.

Some were armed with samples of their work and art equipment and/or visual presentation on the screen with printed folders distributed to the Award Committee to provide a clearer view of the objectives in mind and why they deserved to receive the IMB2P grant.

Through these pitching sessions, I was delighted to discover a host of talented young people who are passionate about making a difference in preserving the arts, culture and environment in Iskandar Malaysia.

Asna Nabihah Aziz, founder of
NR Weaving House that produces
products from pineapple fibers
I have met a few applicants who were applying for IMB2P again in batch two and I was familiar with several whom I had already featured in My Johor Stories.

While many of them may be familiar with me, I believe it was an intense experience for the applicants when they stood in front of the Committee to make their pitch in the given amount of time.

Language was not a barrier as Malaysians are a multi-lingual community, but I was impressed with how the Chinese applicants made their pitch eloquently in Malay.

The Award Committee members were welcome to interject with any questions if necessary and the applicant would then clarify to make the point clearer.

We know that the IRDA IMB2P grants would be recommended for applicants who have clear objectives to not only develop their personal projects but in turn, would also have tangible benefits for Iskandar Malaysia.

In the two pitching sessions, it was interesting to observe how some of the applicants would reply me in Malay language even when I quizzed them in English.

To me, this was proof that these applicants were not confident enough to speak in English even though they did understand the language.

Illustration by Gee Fan Eng of Blackroom Theatre and
Illustration, on a children's picture book which has been
reprinted several times and translated into multiple languages
[This was an important factor for me because some applicants aimed to go abroad to share Johor culture and heritage to a foreign community who are not proficient in Malay or Bahasa Indonesia.]

I don’t know about the others, but the pitching sessions were both mentally and physically exhausting for me too as I listened intently and considered each applicant objectively before giving my comments and recommendations.

The Award Committee could only do our best for each applicant while the ultimate decision to award the full or partial sum of the grant application lies with IRDA.

Now that our work is done, I’m (not just the applicants!) also eagerly anticipating the results of the review by IRDA and take this opportunity to thank IRDA for their generosity and support to the deserving applicants by providing them with IMB2P grants.

Meanwhile, I wish the successful applicants well as they press on with passion in their pursuit of promoting and preserving Art and Culture in Iskandar Malaysia.

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