GEORGE TOWN: A key repository of Penang’s rich musical heritage, the Penang House of Music (PHoM), is set to close its doors.
Founder and musician Paul Augustin cited financial constraints, which had snowballed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as the reason for its imminent closure.
He said the centre had relied heavily on support from the Penang government for seven years.
However, he added, sustaining the centre had become financially challenging after the pandemic caused a major drop in the number of visitors.
“Just passion alone isn’t enough sometimes, and the lack of financial and institutional support has made it a little too difficult to continue,” Augustin told FMT.
“It was 16 months of uncertainty during the pandemic. One moment we could open and, sometimes, we could not. This took a toll on our finances.”
Augustin said that since opening its doors in 2016, it had been on TripAdvisor’s top 10 “must visit” list, and remains so until today, while also being listed by CNN as one of the 25 must-do things in Penang.
He said over time, PHoM had expanded into an archive not only of arts and culture in Penang, but also of the whole country.
“I would like to continue archiving the nation’s art and cultural heritage. We have been recognised as unofficial custodians of the nation’s arts and music, (and) we have to carry on with our work,” Augustin said.
PHoM was made possible thanks to a RM3 million sponsorship by the Penang Water Supply Corporation, which led to its opening in 2016.
Located on the fourth floor of Komtar’s ICT Mall, the PHoM has been offering visitors a captivating journey through the island’s musical heritage.
From forgotten music genres like “ronggeng” and “bangsawan” to iconic tunes by Penang’s musical luminaries, such as P Ramlee and Zainal Alam, the PHoM serves as a vibrant homage to the island’s diverse musical heritage.
Augustin said those eager to relive the magic of Penang’s musical past could take the opportunity to visit one last time before the PHoM officially shuts its doors for good.
“We don’t know when we will close. Maybe the end of this month or next,” he said.
“But come visit us one last time.”