Abdul Karim (fifth left) with (from left) Shakir, Marina, Donald, Hii, Wahab, Sharzede and Yeoh.

KUCHING: Sarawak’s iconic event, Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF), will be held from July 10 to 12 at the Sarawak Cultural Village.

The RWMF 2020 will feature 56 bands from over 30 countries with a few new ones such as Argentina, Cambodia, Cyprus, Kurdistan and Venezuela.

More than 100 artistes will perform together in eight different stages including programmes such as 3 Drum Circles, 3 Gathering Of The Tribe, 4 DJ Sets, 36 Mini Sessions, 27 Lifestyle and Wellness, 12 Cultural Snippets and also 15 Music Workshop Tutorials for festival goers.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah stated that a fresh approach to this year’s RWMF is the expansion of the event to the city as a potentially permanent feature.

Called ‘Rainforest World Music Festival Fringe’ (RWMFF) — previously known as Rainforest Fringe Festival (RFF) — it will happen at the Open Air Amphitheatre from July 3 to 15, while the ‘Rainforest in The City’ (RITC) at the Hero’s Monument from June 30 to July 9.

“Using the tagline ‘Celebrating Artistry, Expressing Diversity’, the RWMFF will present over 23 unique and 108 daily events across 17 different genres, bringing together the best of contemporary, traditional performances as well as innovative experimental works.

“As a curtain-raiser to the fringe festival, the RWMF City Stage will be held at the Amphitheatre at Jalan Taman Budaya, Kuching on July 3 and 4, featuring six international, four national and two local bands.

“This two-night celebration will be free of charge to make the RWMF more accessible to local music lovers,” he said when launching the RWMF 2020 at Old Courthouse, yesterday.

He added that the RWMFF will also feature three major genre-specific events, namely, the Asia Pacific Fiber Arts Symposium (July 4 and 5) and Exhibition (July 3 to 15) at Pullman Hotel and The Hills; the Indigenous Film Festival (July 5 to 7) at Kuching Waterfront and Tribes at Grand Margherita; and the Fringe Music Symposium and Showcase (July 9).

The RITC will have the theme ‘Nocturnal’ reflecting fun and celebration at night, combining rainforest elements, luminescent lights and colours of RITC.

“This event is another important platform for local talents to showcase themselves in all forms of art, from graphic designs, painting, new media, music and food,” he said.

He also said that the main highlight of this year’s event is Sarawak State Museum projection mapping and the Heroes Monument Light Show.

To allay public fears, Abdul Karim advised everyone to be mindful of the challenges posed by the coronavirus (Covid-19). Sarawak, he assured, would be proactive in facing this adversity and is collaborating with health authorities.

“Throughout the festival, we will distribute face masks for free to everyone, with hand sanitizers placed strategically around the venues.

“Health screening or thermal scans will be available at the festival entrance and precautionary information will be disseminated through various communication mediums.

“We will also ensure that medical team will be on stand-by at the venue. Daily disinfection will be carried out, working closely with the State Disaster Management Committee,” he said.

Last year, he said, the RWMF managed to attract 23,650 visitors. He hoped that this year’s event would at least achieve about the same figure.

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer Sharzede Salleh Askor stated that the ticket prices will be announced at the end of the month.

Also present at the event were the ministry’s permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee, STB chairman Datuk Abdul Wahab Aziz, RWMF festival director Yeoh Jun Lin, RWMFF festival directors Donald and Marina Tan, as well as RITC festival director Abdul Shakir.