Arts, culture and heritage under one roof at The Star Pitt St.
WINNIE YEOH and CHONG KAH YUAN firstname.lastname@example.org
GEORGE TOWN: The building that once housed the head office of The Star is now a vibrant arts, culture and heritage centre to keep alive Penang’s heritage legacy.
Now known as The Star Pitt St. in Jalan Kapitan Keling Mosque here, it is also home to Penang-based publisher Areca Books and venue for the Penang Philharmonic for its rehearsals and concerts.
Keeping alive The Star’s presence, it continues to operate its northern region editorial and advertising office.
Behind the white facade of the majestic three-storey building, is an interior bursting with a colourful myriad of activities and programmes.
In typical Penang style, the opening of the building yesterday by former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was followed with a spell-binding chingay performance by Penang Chingay Association members who balanced and tossed a giant Jalur Gemilang flag and another huge flag to commemorate the event.
The event marked a three-year working partnership between The Star and Think City, established in 2009 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Khazanah Nasional Berhad to spearhead community based urban regeneration in Penang.
As a side event to the opening act, guests were encouraged to take a cultural walk along the Street of Harmony, Armenian Street and Little India, organised by Penang Heritage Trust.
Peranakan May Lim demonstrated the intricate artwork of making beaded Nyonya footwear in the Arts in Action corner.
Other features was the photo exhibition on the Penang Story, the Hotshots: 40 years of great news images by The Star photographers.
There was also the Chennai Nalla Chennai photo exhibition by renowned photographer S.A. Ramesh and sculpture displays by artist Low Chee Peng. Guests also tried their hands on an old journalist typewriter. The building also has exhibition spaces and incubators for apprentice artisans.
Abdullah, accompanied by his wife Tun Jeanne Abdullah, led a string of VIP guests who were given a tour of the exhibitions in the building.
The guests included world renown shoe designer Datuk Jimmy Choo and state executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow.
Also present were Star Publications (M) Bhd chairman Datuk Fu Ah Kiow, group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai, executive director Tan Sri Kamal Hashim, his wife Puan Sri Su Hashim, non-independent non-executive director Datuk Dr Mohd Aminuddin Mohd Rouse and Think City chairman Datuk Anwar Fazal.
Abdullah said he was “very happy” to see such a thing happening in Penang, adding that he will be coming back to spend more time to visit the exhibitions.
Wong, who started as a journalist at the building about three decades ago, said it was an emotional journey for him and his fellow comrades.
“To the people of Penang, The Star is where we started,” he said, adding that the centre was The Star’s gift to the people of Penang.
“It will showcase the history of Penang as well as bring alive the living heritage of Penang.
“This place will be vibrant and filled with activities, including talks, exhibitions and performances.
“We want The Star Pitt St. to be the hub for the Penangites,” said Wong.
Anwar said the event was particularly meaningful for Think City as it was during Abdullah’s administration that a special federal allocation for the George Town World Heritage Site was allocated.
“As of June 2014, some 212 projects have received grants with 163 projects completed,” he said.
The newly-refurbished building provides exhibition spaces and incubators for apprentices under the Penang Apprenticeship Programme for Artisans, while Penang Philharmonic takes up the top floor for its activities.
In 2010, Think City revived the Penang Story Project which was started by The Star and the Penang Heritage Trust in 2001.
A permanent exhibition featuring highlights from the Penang Story is housed in the building. The ground floor also connects the Street of Harmony with Little India (Queen Street).
Think City has also relocated its Technical and Working teams to the first floor of the building to be closer to its projects in George Town.
In a collaboration with The Star, the Penang Reading Room, a resource centre featuring a collection of books related to the history and heritage of Penang will also be set up at the same floor.
The Star will also make its digital archives available at the reading room which is expected to be opened in November.
> For more details, visit www.facebook.com/TheStarPittSt.