Arts Centre to provide venue for local talents

National 3 minutes, 5 seconds

BRUNEI-MUARA

JERUDONG International School (JIS) will soon have an Arts Centre to provide space for aspiring young musicians and artists in the country to showcase their talents in the hopes to boost the local music and drama scene.

The school's principal, John Price announced this yesterday during a groundbreaking ceremony for the centre.

The $26 million centre will have a small-sized hall comprising a black box theatre, auditorium and a foyer which doubles as an exhibition space.

According to Price, the school was aware that local musicians need an acoustically sophisticated auditorium in which classical music could be played and young singers' voices could be heard without amplification.

He said that the school needed both a traditional stage with a proscenium arch and a black box theatre for drama where more contemporary plays could be performed.

"As for art and design, it was essential to have a proper exhibition space," Price explained, adding that the Arts Centre will transform the cultural life of the school as it will provide world-class facilities for the students.

"Students here have already achieved very high standards in the performing arts but are now held back by the school's existing facilities which they have outgrown. The centre will help our musicians achieve even higher standards and will no longer prevent drama from staging major productions," he said.

Price expressed hopes that the Arts Centre would attract performers and artists outside the school as the quality of acoustics should mean the venue will be a favourite in Brunei. In a question and answer session with the media, Price explained that the reason why the centre was not called "JIS Arts Centre" but just "Arts Centre" was that it was meant to serve a wider community.

"Hopefully, other societies like the Brunei Music Society will come here and other visiting musicians as well, so it will be good for the local scene," he said, adding that the centre can accommodate up to 700 people.

That may be a small number, Price said, but it is built for an intimate setting between the performer and audience.

"There are also plans for a café at the centre so parents can enjoy the exhibits in the foyer," the principal added.

"A centre like this gives students a cultural background that they need because during this day and age, a rounded education will benefit students more. Sciences and Math are important as well, but we don't want students to only focus on that, we want them to be well-rounded, well-educated and well-read," he said, adding that it would give students more opportunities to enter top universities.

Matthew Bukit, one of the school's top violinists told The Brunei Times that the centre, which will be completed within 18 months, gives him and his fellow peers a larger performance base. "I've been in the school for nine years and it has developed a lot. The Arts Centre will have the proper acoustics for a more enjoyable performance as compared to the school gym where they currently use for concerts," said the Year 12 student.

Bryanna Rogers, a drama student who is also in Year 12, said the centre opens up more opportunities for drama students as they will have more exposure and will be more used to doing shows.

Present to launch the ceremony yesterday was Minister of Communications and Chairman of the Brunei Investment Agency, guest of honour Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia Hj Abu Bakar Hj Apong. While at the school, the minister took the opportunity to tour the school's facilities such as the gym, laboratories, and activities undertaken by the students.

The Brunei Times