The arts have always been an integral aspect in our lives and can be expressed in many forms. Whether it is the written word, illustrations, music or the performance arts, it is both self-expression and the bridge that connects communities with a human expression: empathy.
One such example was shown during Italy's nationwide lock-down, where videos of quarantined musicians playing live music from their balconies had gone viral, showing not only a united front but a brief reprieve from the general solemnity.
Last month saw the launch of Malaysia's first Conservatory Degree Programme in Performing Arts, which is being offered by Taylor's University in collaboration with The Actors' Studio (TAS). Datuk Faridah Merican, who founded TAS and the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) with her husband Joe Hasham, described it as "another moment in history, the kind of story that we would cherish, that would make us live and remember."
According to Faridah and Joe, the flooding of TAS's former home in Plaza Putra at Dataran Merdeka in 2003 was what got both of them to seek out a higher learning institution to fully realise a performing arts programme. The idea came from the then Prime Minister Ahmad Badawi, whom the two had affectionately nicknamed 'Pak Lah'.
"He told us then to connect with an institution of higher learning because what we did, was just not enough to promote performing arts," said Faridah.
But it was only last year that Taylor's University reached out Faridah and Joe about forming a three-year conservatory degree programme. And so TUTAS, the acronym of Taylor's University and TAS, is birthed.