The creative industry plays a crucial role in aiding the development and diversification of the economy in Brunei Darussalam.
It is a dynamic industry that can be linked to various sectors of the economy, such as architecture, visual and performing arts, film and television, computer animation, web design and music.
Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry has found ways to push forward, embracing technology to overcome the shortcomings.
Brunei fashion designer Fadzil Hadin of Chantique dissected the matter during a virtual fashion dialogue session held in conjunction with the 3rd BIMP-EAGA (Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area) Budayaw Festival last year.
Fadzil, whose boutique is based in Dubai, along with other BIMP-EAGA fashion designers, said the pandemic has pushed them to be more creative and adapt to the new normal by making use of technology and holding virtual fashion shows.
Designers have also been pushed to think outside the box by collaborating with other creatives including photographers and videographers. They also agree that the pandemic has brought people in the industry closer, and led them to be better prepared in facing challenges together.
Various institutions in the country have shown tireless support in identifying talents who show potential in the creative industry.
In August 2021, Kolej International Graduate Studies (KIGS) held its VIBE exhibition.
KIGS CEO Dr Haji Azahairani bin Haji Mohd Jamil said the exhibition, which has been held for the past decade, acknowledges the important role the creative industry plays in the development of national economy. It also focusses on equipping the youth with creative, interpretative, critical and analytical skills that meet the needs of creative industries for Brunei Darussalam.
In addition to being a programme requirement to provide students a platform to exhibit their artwork for public viewing, the VIBE exhibition also allows for professional feedback as a way to improve the quality of artwork, as well as students’ creativity and capacity to innovate.
Sometimes, earning a living through this creative talent can prove difficult. However, a few local content creators have managed to do so, using various online platforms, most notably YouTube, as a starting point, building their own brand to market their talent and working with other businesses to earn an income from their creative work.
The subject was discussed during a sharing session organised by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) as part of the Day of Action campaign for International Volunteer Day 2021.
YouTuber and content creator Hadi Al Hafiz, who is known as Fasting Bro, said there are other ways to make money on the popular video sharing site. “If you know my channel, you know most of my viewers are from Brunei. If I base it on local views, I don’t gain much from ad revenues. So I never really withdraw from YouTube,” said Haid, who has 12,400 subscribers.
He explained that he uses his YouTube channel as a platform to build his brand and receive an income by striking brand deals to potential clients. “I would approach companies and small businesses, and offer to promote their products or services,” he said.
Fasting Bro added, “You can also be a brand affiliate by building authority around your expertise. For example, if you are good at woodworking, make a channel based on that. When it grows you can then look into brands that align with your interest.
“You can then approach these brands and promote their products, earning a percentage from their sales if viewers use a code or a link you’ve featured.”
He advised aspiring YouTubers to not undervalue themselves.
Apart from raising the economy, the creative industry can also band together with the public to fight for a beneficial cause.
Such was the case for local rapper Nazmo, who last year collaborated with other local artistes to compose and perform the Ministry of Health’s #bersamamelindungi song project.
Written with Hanif Iqbal, the initiative was aimed at encouraging the public to get vaccinated and to protect one another against the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When Wafi Rusli from Showtime Creative Entertainment Services approached me about the project, the first thing that sprang to mind was, ‘I hope the listeners will be able to feel the message in the song.’ I really believed in the hashtag, and how important the initiative would be for the community,” Nazmo said.
With the many developments as well as the passion and support from not only the government but also private institutions and passionate individuals, even while faced with the pandemic, the creative industry continues to innovate and grow, shining a hopeful light to some day flourish at developing the nation’s goal of diversifying its economy.