Rediscover Brunei Darussalam through the eyes of the People
Editor's Note: The Creative Core BN is a relative new-comer to the local creative scene in Brunei. They had a busy 2015 delivering a range of creative projects, and there is more to come in 2016. To appreciate what they do, read on to understand the 'why' behind their what. Check out their Instagram @thecreativecorebn and find out more about them here.
Who are you?
My name is Charlotte, and I am passionate about the art of Dance. I have been dancing since I was four, I did my sixth form in England [Tring Park School for the Performing Arts]. While in Tring, I discovered contemporary dance and fell in love with freedom within this dance form. I then went on to pursue it in a contemporary dance institute in Canada for a year. I then did an internship at Asia Inc Forum and got interested in events. So I went on to study a Bachelor of Business in Australia.
I came back to Brunei noticing that the creative industry is still growing and decided to put both passions together to form The Creative Core BN.
What is The Creative Core BN?
That is a very big question. The Creative Core BN (TCCBN) exists to gather local artists of various fields within our community together to connect with each other, share personal experiences and experiment with new ideas. I believe that TCCBN will develop and continue to evolve over time, however, at present, this is what it is.
Why did you decide to start this "project"?
One thing that acts as the main inspiration and drive of TCCBN is our interest in the individual behind the art, hence, the “creative core”. This means that we put our focus on connecting with artists on a human level as much as we do connecting with them through their works. The human being behind the art very much shapes the art itself, in whatever form it may present itself in. and that! We want to tell their story. I guess, just as you do here at Projek Brunei; sharing the stories of individuals in our nation.
The other side of things of course, is our interest in the arts. I must say this side of things is as important. To put it simply, Michelle (co-founder) sings, and I dance.... at the same time. Haha. Michelle is a self-taught singer - song writer and musician. She has a great ear for music and plays the keyboard, ukulele and guitar. Her unique voice is loved by many, including myself of course. :)
Along with this, we also had the privilege of seeing many many talented individuals here in Brunei over the years. The country may be small, but the talent here is awesome! When we started talking about the idea of TCCBN in 2013, we saw a gap that needed to be filled, and that gap was the absence of platforms or opportunities for these artists to showcase their works. We’re not saying that TCCBN will be the ones to fill that gap, but we would like to see what we can do contribute to this, together with the other creative enthusiasts out there. At the beginning of 2015, we saw that the creative industry was present; though small, it was picking up in pace. We decided then that it would be a good time to step into this and to see what would come out of it.
Are you able to use your experiences from overseas here in Brunei?
Definitely! I think it’s a beautiful thing when we choose to make use of our past experiences to create something new ‘today’. Many things that I have learnt or experienced within the arts and events scene whilst in Canada and Australia have shaped the way that I plan, think and connect with others.
What has The Creative Core BN done in its first year?
January 2015 marked the beginning of our journey. We have split our year up into different seasons with 1 major event and smaller pre-events (e.g. workshops) to fill it up. We have done so as to focus and delve into one form of art at a time as there is much to discover.
In our first year, we had two main seasons, plus a little initiative in December to wrap up the year. First, our dance season ran from April - July. The season started out with a 3-part video series called I AM. Dancer. The production of this series in collaboration with Beluneu Films looked to present the why and who behind the what. The stories and dance works of 3 local dancers / choreographers were featured; Aizat, Adeline & Hanif. We ended the season with Dancers Meet 2015; a night showcasing the creative process and works of the 3 featured choreographers.
In August, we moved into our Music Season. In the duration of the 4-month long season, we once again had the opportunity to take a look into the heart and soul behind a musicians work and presented it to the community through video features. Following on from that, we opened up a space where local musicians, both up and coming & established, had the opportunity to meet, share, learn and inspire each other in this journey; #WORKSHOPMONTH. We had the privilege of having our local and international singer-songwriter Eia on board as a coach throughout the 3 workshop weekends.
The season ended on a high with a fun collaboration with the collective to put together a major jam session with musicians across our community; The Big Jam.
To wrap up the year, we decided to celebrate the holiday season with a little bit of kindness; #randomactsofkindnessbn. Anyone and Everyone could get involved by doing a simple act of kindness. The purpose for this initiative is to encourage people to continue to put the focus on what is most important. At the end of the day, it the hearts and the lives behind the art that matter most.
That was our first year! We had a lot of fun meeting new people and trying out things that we had never done before.
On local culture and the role it plays in your decisions.
Well, over the past year, we have seen a big, positive growth in the public’s perspective and interest towards the creative industry. It’s great! It’s even greater to see companies like the collective as well as Kaleidoscope holding more and more art events. They are paving the way for other creatives in this nation, including us. We owe them much!
This however, does not mean that there are any hurdles for the individuals pursuing arts, whether as a hobby or a career. Therefore, the decisions we make and actions that we take are sometimes still heavily reliant on local guidelines. This does not mean that we are restricted nor discouraged. Limitations and boundaries often times pushes us to think outside the box and push our personal borders, which is great!
On challenges faced in doing public art related events.
There were many challenges of course, because #life. Hah! However, because of the paved path before us we had a pretty good run in 2015, seeing that it is our first year. We had much support from the public as well as those who have been on this journey for a while, which was more than we could have asked for.
I guess our main challenge in 2015 was an internal one. As in, a challenge we faced within our own in-house team. Due to the fact that it was our first year, we had many firsts, many tasks, that we were not really prepared for logistically. (Communication is hard!) I will say that team work is something that needs to be practiced and worked at. :p
Who have you worked with in past events?
We had the honour of working with a couple of amazing human beings last year: The guys from the local film company, Beluneu Films, Shinny from the collective, the artist- illustrator Chynna Tan, UBD TV, Eia, Relentless Entertainment, Community of Dance and many more local creators who were involved in our seasons.
What do you hope to see in 2016?
Our motto is Impart. Impact. Inspire. For the artists, we want them to come to our events with an open heart and mind to share AND learn something new; to be imparted with new skills and knowledge and in turn impart their skills and knowledge into the greater community.
We would hope for TCCBN’s events and creative works to make a significant mark, print, impact whatever you may call it, in our society. To educate and inspire others to open up their hearts and minds to art, and all that it carries with it.
Editor's Note: There is a saying that goes, "A rising tide lifts all boats." It is associated with the idea that improvements in an ecosystem will benefit all participants in that ecosystem. Shinny is a colourful catalyst and her journey and efforts through The Collective Art Events has lifted the local creative tide. Read on, get to know her a little better, but more importantly, I hope you catch Shinny's spark.
Find out more about the collective here.
Who are you, and what do you do?
I'm a free spirited human that runs local creative company 'the collective'.
Describe yourself in a few words.
Unfiltered, adventurous, down to earth lover of the arts.
You are a #girlboss. What advice would you give the 16 year old you?
I would tell myself to stop worrying about things that ultimately aren't a big deal in the bigger picture, and focus on building myself up, building real skills, and making real connections. I think when you're a teenager, it's easy to get caught up in silly teenage drama and look for the wrong kind of validation. You so easily lose sight of the opportunity to start building yourself as a person, while you actually have the time, because you're worried what other people will think of your choices.
Even at 16 it's so important to be aware of the world around you, and be involved in life beyond the confines of the bubble of high school, so you can start building the foundation for becoming the person you want to be.
I'd probably also tell my 16 year old self not to take family time for granted and stay disciplined. Focus and dedication are important!
Have you always been creative?
I have actually always been creative but I think I've expressed it in ways that are atypical to a normal artist. I had a really vivid imagination as a kid! My first creative 'project' was probably designing clothing. I was a magazine hoarder and had a million issues of Vogue and used to design things I wanted to wear to be like the glamorous ladies in the magazines!
Describe your creative brainstorming process.
I don't know that I have a particular process. My brain can't really handle routine so I don't even have a standard process for brainstorming. I just like to constantly seek out new adventures and experiences, see new things, do new things and just kind of break my brain out of any monotony. I do brainstorm better by myself because I get distracted easily. Having said that, when I find someone who I bounce off well with creatively, it's the best thing ever! You can't beat a good human connection!
On a scale of 0 - 10, (0 = nonexistent and dry, 10 = vibrant and flourishing) where would you place Brunei's creative scene? Why?
I think we're currently at a 5. The local creative scene has picked up a lot in the last two years, and everyone I've spoken to has echoed the same sentiment. There's a lot more happening now, on a regular basis than there ever has been, and we're starting to see the roots of an arts appreciative culture begin to form, but I think we're also at a really critical stage of growth where the market needs to be carefully grown and self-regulated to ensure that we see a diversity of creative brands/businesses with integrity emerge, otherwise the local art scene is going to grow but not in a sustainable way.
The Bruneian market is so small, that there's a real risk of over saturation from too many businesses doing similar things and cannibalising each other instead of new concepts coming up. I guess in a nutshell, we're kind of halfway because it's growing and stuff is happening finally, but the originality and creativity factor (which creates vibrancy) still has a way to go!
Tell us about the origins of The Collective Art Events.
the collective started from me just being frustrated at not having any creative events to go to in Brunei. I was experiencing a huge culture shock having just moved back to Brunei from Sydney. The original concept I had was to run a hair braiding workshop called braid bar, and after talking to people in the creative community and them wanting to be involved, that concept grew into a small little festival, which grew into a larger festival, and the snowball kept rolling! I feel really grateful every day that people like what the collective is about and support it so much!
The primary objectives are to build a strong local art scene / culture, help build a sustainable commercial market for the local creative industry, and bring a little creative fun and sparkle into peoples lives! the collective didn't start out with the express intention of becoming a business, it was more about just wanting to do some fun creative stuff and meet new people in the process, so that sentiment is always at the heart of everything I do.
Which collective project are you most proud of? Why?
Ahhhhh. Tough question! Probably the Creatives Against Cruelty festival because it pulled in close to a thousand people despite only having a weeks worth of marketing and we helped raise something like $4000 for CAS! It was such a last minute decision to run it and everyone from the vendors to our venue host (local designer Sabrina Wong who started L'Orient), to the public really rallied together to support the cause. A lot of the vendors privately donated more than they needed to, and there was so much support from the public with private donations to CAS and people just coming by to show their support. It just gave me the warm and fuzzies to how much people cared, because I'm a huge animal lover.
Tell us about The Maker Space.
I am SO excited about the Maker Space! The Maker movement is something that is really taking off at the moment and I'm really excited about being able to connect with this global movement towards hand made items. The Collective's Maker Space is going to be a mix of open plan workspace for creatives and retail that features some staple creative brands from our festivals, and a curated selection of arty things we love. I really miss being able to go to a great space, that makes me want to stay and just sit for hours so the space is designed for people to stay for long periods of time! It's basically going to be a go-to space to do your creative work, get inspired, and get your creative product fix!
I think the collective has needed its own space for a long time now: making our installations and other crafty projects usually requires a lot of space and it typically gets messy, and in general, having our own office has become somewhat of a necessity with the company diversifying into other avenues.
There are so many things I've been wanting to expand into and late last year I was lucky enough to find a mentor that helped enable that. the collective is expanding its services to include the launch of a creative design agency handling everything from full-scale branding projects to one off graphic design jobs, so the maker space is our headquarters, where people can find us if they want to talk about how we can help them get things done! There's also going to be a bespoke floristry service at the Maker Space which is going to be completely different from anything that exists in Brunei!
What can we expect from The Collective in 2016 and beyond?
Expect the unexpected, haha! I think the last two years have been a focus on shaking up how people experience events in Brunei and creating that demand for an artistic flair to things and this year it's expanding that focus to creative lifestyle and space. Our flagship events like pop up dinners and our creative arts festival will run, as always!
Shoutout to all the gents who participated in the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride over the weekend! Brunei's first DGR event was part of the global DGR movement, "an international event for Classics, café racers, bobbers, trackers, customs, modern classics, classic scooters & undefinable 2/3 wheeled machines". The Ride aims to raise awareness and money for helping to find a cure for Prostate Cancer.
Here are some photographs from the DGR in Brunei. More information about the Ride on the Gentleman's Ride website.
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