PechaKucha Night Kuching – A social contribution to the creative art community

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by Jeffrey Yeung

As a local architectural practice in Kuching, we often ask ourselves if what we design or build actually matters to the local community. Sometimes we get too caught up in our daily toil and foil, and although we gain satisfaction once we complete a project, we sometimes wonder if our creative juices will perhaps slowly evaporate much like our shrinking currency.

PechaKucha 20×20 (PK) all began when we started getting involved with Borneo 744 – a unique development that involved designing an entrepreneurial incubator for the creative community in Kuching. After several rounds of discussion with our user groups, which consist of organisations such as Tanoti and MaGIC, we realised that in order for the spaces or ‘hardware’ to work successfully, Borneo 744 needed the right ‘software’ to be injected into the program. Without members of the creative community being involved and utilising the facilities provided for them, Borneo 744 would never work.

We all know that there is no lack of artistic talent in Kuching. Recently, popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have paved the way for hopeful artists, photographers and young creative to share snapshots of their artistic pursuits and creations to a wide audience. We realised that in order to create a desire for art, the artists themselves were beginning to find the need to interact more and spend more time with the greater public. We noticed that there was a lack of public platforms for artists in Kuching, and we thought of how we could help to provide a platform for them to share their works and passions.

Some of us had been to PechaKucha 20×20 Nights overseas, and it clicked one day – “Why don’t we organise PK Nights in Kuching?” We immediately did some research with the PechaKucha Tokyo Headquarters and discovered that there indeed had been one other PK Night in Kuching back in 2010, however that organiser had since left Kuching. We were given the go-ahead by Tokyo HQ to be the new city organiser for PechaKucha Nights in Kuching and the rest is history.

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PechaKucha 20×20 is a non-profit event, and all proceeds go to covering our costs for the venue, technical equipment and recordings. Fortunately, we have a strong team of young, energetic and creative minds within our own practice, and with our volunteers’ time andefforts, we were able to pool together a group of interesting, passionate and dedicated group of speakers for our past two PK Night events.

It has been challenging and stressful to say the least – it’s a lot harder to persuade people to speak in public than catching Pokemons. However, one of the most rewarding things throughout the process is that suddenly we are exposed to all of these beautiful, weirdly wonderful experiences that people in Kuching are going through. The participants normally submit their works to us and provide a short description of what they will be talking about. PechaKucha 20×20 is all about the art of concise presentations – limited to 10 speakers per event, each speaker presents 20 slides at 20 seconds per slide, which gives each speaker approximately 6 minutes and 40 seconds to present their work. Once we have curated and arranged the flow of the presentations, we invite our speakers for one of our regular Pizza Fridays at our office where we have a fun and informal practice.

During these informal practices, it feels like we are inside this metaphoric nuclear reactor, where the molecules gather and a fusion reaction occurs, which triggers and erupts into a nuclear reaction. It is precisely this explosion of ideas, thoughts, emotions and passions that motivate us to organise PechaKucha Nights in Kuching and we foresee ourselves organising more PK events in the future. Currently, we are in the midst of arranging a PechaKucha event for the youth, and we are excited at the prospect of unveiling some these growing talents.

With this, we hope that we can engage further with the local artistic community, and that we get to collaborate more with them in order to promote and showcase the local artistic scene to a global audience.

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