Sitting snugly between two long-standing festivals – the George Town Literary Festival and the Penang Island Jazz Festival – is the In-Between Arts Festival (IbAF). Taken together, the 10 Days and 3 Festivals that run from 25 November to 4 December have become an annual highlight of Penang’s calendar. And what better theme to associate this festive season with than food?
What we eat tells a story not just about us as individuals but about the histories that make up our wider culture – and food is thus intimately linked to the arts. The IbAF works in partnership with other organisations in Penang to foster collaborations between artists and food professionals. By approaching food through art, and by highlighting the artistry of food, the IbAF frames itself as stimulating and inspiring: a positive approach that gets people to think about the role of food in our society and leads to innovative ideas about people’s everyday lifestyle choices.
The festival’s location in Penang allows us to take advantage of the island’s resources as a centre of artistic creation as well as its global reputation as a magnet for high-quality food. At its core, this year’s IbAF creates a platform to demonstrate the uniqueness of local food and art through the notion of sustainability. Following the food chain from farm to fork, we address the production, distribution, preparation and consumption of food. In doing so, the programme brings together the festival-goers to support locally harvested food products and culinary traditions, and raise awareness of living healthier lifestyles.
The IbAF will organise an enticing programme of events, including mouth-watering food presentations, a variety of food and art workshops, a food zine exhibition, a bookstall and more. At the same time, it offers an opportunity to showcase small businesses and artists to help them flourish and reach a wider clientele. The sheer variety of exciting activities will also further enhance the attractiveness of Penang’s food and art culture in the long run.