As often emphasized by Penang Chief Minister YAB Tuan Lim Guan Eng, the State Government has always been supportive of artists and their artworks as their efforts greatly contribute towards promoting Penang’s culture and its creative soul. There is however a need to prevent the city from being covered with graffiti which will very badly affect the cityscape. The Penang State Government has therefore decided to form a special Arts Committee which will manage and overlook the creative artworks, including mural paintings.

The Public Arts Review Panel will comprise of members with background in Arts, tasked with, amongst others, the responsibility to evaluate all mural related artworks within the World Heritage Site. Henceforth, only murals deemed relevant will be approved and retained, and all others will be removed.

Since 2012, Ernest Zacharevic’s murals have started a trend for the creation of wall paintings, setting up this genre for the local art scene, and creating a niche for George Town’s mural tourism. Every weekend and during the holiday season, visitors from all around throng the heritage site to take photographs with the murals. This has helped increase George Town’s visibility as a World Heritage Site, allowing visitors to personally experience the city’s lifestyle and learn about its Outstanding Universal Values (OUV’s). However, some of the murals in the heritage site are painted-on without approval that does not protect and maintain the three important Outstanding Universal Values of George Town namely;

  1. George Town represent exceptional examples of multi-cultural trading towns in East and Southeast Asia, forged from the mercantile and civilization exchanges of Malay, Chinese, Indian and European cultures.
  2. George Town is a living testimony to the multi-cultural heritage and tradition of Asia, where the greatest religions, and cultures met. The coexistence of distinct faiths- both tangible and intangible – in particular the difference religious buildings, is a testament to the religious pluralism of Asia.
  3. George Town reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Malay Archipelago and from India and China with those of Europe to create a unique architecture, culture and townscape without parallel anywhere in the East and South East Asia, in particular, a range and exceptional architecture of shophouses and townhouses.

The Penang State Government has taken this approach that encourages the development of the city’s tangible and intangible heritage that can preserve our Outstanding Universal Values by establishing the Public Arts Review Panel to regulate and manage the growth and progress of cultural and creative arts in George Town World Heritage Site.

From today onwards, those who are interested in the creation of murals or any public artworks in the George Town World Heritage Site are required to inform and discuss further with George Town World Heritage Incorporated. The Public Arts Review Panel will also be empowered to recommend the removal of any paintings that detract, subtract and retract from George Town’s tangible and intangible heritage OUV’s.

We urge the public to contribute and safeguard the George Town World Heritage Site and its Outstanding Universal Values, in order to achieve sustainable growth and become a truly living heritage city.

What is Public Arts?

The term Public Art is art in any media that has been planned and executed with the intention of being staged in the physical public domain, usually outside and accessible to all.

Public arts may include any art form which is exhibited in a public space including publicly accessible buildings, walkways, parks and other spaces where public is accessible.

For any enquiries, please contact our Senior Built Environment and Monitoring Officer, Noor Asyiqin Zainal Abidin (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 04-261 6606)

Application Form:

Please refer to attached application form of public art for GTWHI and MBPP

  1. GTWHI Application Form
  2. MBPP Application Form

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