Little Penang Street Market: Evaluation of Artisan Market in Malaysia


Kadijatu Conteh
Alexa Degioannini
Rachel Elin
Hanna Kadlec
Ryan Short

Little Penang Street Market

Since the 1970s, Malaysia’s traditional craft sector has declined in prominence with the rise of industrialization and access to mass-produced lower quality goods. In response, a group of committed volunteers from Penang Island, Malaysia gathered to address the declining presence of traditional trades and crafts. In cooperation with Lestari Heritage Trust in Penang, and seed funds from New York-based Institute for Cultural Enterprise (ICE), the Little Penang Street Market (LPSM) was founded in March 2006 as the first community-based and not-for-profit monthly cultural market of its kind in Malaysia. The Market itself relies on the continued commitment of a small group of volunteers, local artists, musicians, the local public and visiting customers.

Although the Little Penang Street Market has been successful in encouraging local artisanship and fostering cultural pride in Malaysia – with high volumes of people attending the Market monthly (the last Sunday of every month) – the Market lacks any regulatory mechanism for monitoring and evaluating its strengths and weaknesses. After two and a half years, the organizers have requested a comprehensive assessment of the market’s operation and economic, cultural and social impact in order to design and implement capacity building activities to ensure the Market’s continued success. Focus was given to what can be implemented in order to make sure that vendor development and performing arts continue to be sustainable features of the Market.

The goal of the project team was to not only create a regulatory mechanism to monitor and evaluate the progress of the market as well as its impact on the community, but also provide the dedicated board members with the tools necessary to monitor the effectiveness of the Market themselves with the help of volunteers and interns.