Music repository takes final bow

Music repository takes final bow

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang House of Music (PHoM), the only music repository in the state, had its final curtain call on March 16 due to financial constraints.

Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil toured the premises on March 7 with State Executive Councillor for Tourism and Creative Economy Wong Hon Wai, after taking an interest in the troubled situation of the establishment.

Fahmi said he previously requested MyCreative Ventures Sdn Bhd to hold further discussions to explore options for PHoM.

MyCreative Ventures is a government-linked company helmed by Balik Pulau MP Datuk Muhammed Bakhtiar Wan Chik, who said: “We are deeply concerned with the fate of PHoM but we don’t have the financial capability to aid them.”

“It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that PHoM is shutting down permanently after many, many months of deliberation. It has been a hugely difficult decision, but somewhat inevitable given the challenging financial circumstances,” PHoM founder Paul Augustin told theSun.

“I started PHoM in 2016 with the support of the Penang government and Penang Water Supply Corporation. We only had eight months to conceptualise, design, renovate and put the whole plan into action.

“I thought I could get some ideas through the internet, but then I found there were no (other ventures) similar to what we envisioned – a permanent interactive gallery, a ‘black box’ performance space and a resource centre all rolled into one.

“We have thousands of pictures, CDs, historical records and artefacts in our archive, and scholars from all over the world have visited PHoM to research the music history of not only Penang but also Malaysia and the surrounding region.

“However, when the whole country was badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, we found it impossible to sustain the place even with financial aid from the state government from 2020 to 2022,” he said.

PHoM was located on the 4th floor of the ICT Digital Mall in Komtar and covered 6,800sq ft. It paid a monthly rental of RM17,045 to the mall management, that leased the space from the Penang Development Corporation.

“PHoM was a truly remarkable and unique venue. It welcomed more than 50,000 visitors from over 50 countries and organised more than 300 events, including the Penang Island Jazz Festival.

“We also provided internships to university and college students, offered venue performance assistance to cultural and art practitioners and engaged with schools for a number of educational events,” said Augustin, adding that although the outlook seems bleak at the moment, he still hopes the spirit of PHoM would continue to inspire and live in the hearts of all who were touched by the establishment.

In the days leading up to PHoM’s closure, the Taiping Heritage Society paid a visit to the music museum. Other visitors were members of the Risen Christ Church and a small group of musicians, who gathered for an impromptu performance organised by Alleycats founding member Shanmugam Arumugam on Feb 20.

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