“There are a lot of talented Indonesians who have the craft but have trouble marketing themselves.“
So said Triawan Munaf this month. He was the Jokowi appointee as head of the euphemistically named Creative Economy Agency back in January. Back then he was interviewed (video: in bhs Indonesia) and commented on “what people could expect out of an agency meant to be filled mostly with creative professionals as opposed to bureaucrats and politicians.”
Until June, Pak Triawan didn’t have an office, and had to work out of his house.
Then the Agency was reorganised, presumably because its budget of Rp.1 trillion (c.US$7.3 million) had finally been released by Parliament. Rather than now reporting directly to President Jokowi, the department, known as Bek Raf (eh?), is now under the purview of the Ministry of Tourism, despite the agency chief being a position equal to a government minister. This curious turnaround potentially negates the very reason the agency was formed in the first place.
This is the same Ministry which a year or so ago promoted nasi goreng (fried rice) as an iconic Indonesian food and sent a recipe to the country’s embassies. Now they have hired Ogilvy Public Relations Indonesia, for a reported $100 million dollars, to promote the country as a tourism destination around the world.
The videos which reach our screens here are as bland as this earlier one …
The Limitless Wonderful Words to Portray Indonesia
I counted just six: here’s another one – crap.
The former Director General of Creative Economy, Harry Waluyo, has been appointed Chief Secretary.
The agency deputy is industry veteran Ricky Pesik (video), is a former general secretary of Indonesia’s ad association, the Persatuan Perusahaan Periklanan Indonesia [PPPI].
The committee also includes:
Deputy for Access to Capital: Fadjar Hutomo
Deputy for Marketing: Joshua M. Simanjuntak who has a design studio.
Deputy for Research, Education, and Development: Boy Berawi is into trains.
Deputy for Intellectual Property Facilitation and Regulation: Ari Juliano Gema
Deputy for Interdepartmental and Regional Relations: Endah W. Sulistianti (film producer)
Deputy for Infrastructure: Hari Sungkari (Secretary General for Indonesia Digital Creative Industry Society)
In the interview quoted at the top, Triawan Munaf went on to say that Be Kraf would “showcase only Indonesia’s top tier musicians, architects or others first and foremost to the international community.”
If they’re already top tier, then they already get invites to play embassy gigs,and to participate in international trade and cultural shows, so why should they get more?
Does it still rankle with Triawan Munaf that the group Giant Step (video), in which he was keyboardist-vocalist, did not take the giant step to international stardom? Or that his daughter Sherina, who was a child star who plagued us on TV before satellite dishes were widely available, is one of the “top tier” … but not him?.
The creative economy exists in its truest from – free from the rules and regulations imposed by blinkered non-creative bureaucrats – and is flourishing in terms of creativity.
Take Siti, the internationally acclaimed film by Jogya film maker Eddie Cahyono which has just been named Indonesian Film of the Year. He also won an award for Best Original Screenplay, as he did at the Shanghai Film Festival in June, and Krisna Purna won an award as Best Music Director.
What the crew did not have was government patronage from a bunch of clock watching bureaucrats seeking reflected glory and a slice of the resources pie.
In February this year, a senior Tourism Ministry official was fired and an international delegation recalled after the ministry came under a maelstrom of criticism for sending a party of unknown delegates to the Berlin International Film Festival after snubbing requests for financial assistance by accomplished filmmakers and actors.
Reach out for the master’s mask
The wound is deeper than you think
It’s only surface tension but break it and we sink
Track 4 of this great album by Rupert Hine, lyrics by Jeannette Obstoj
There are umpteen musicians who receive invitations to perform abroad. They don’t earn much, and many have to pay their own way having overcome the hassles of letters of sponsorship or accreditation from the government before applying for overseas visas. That process alone can take months.
I’d be pleased to be proved wrong, but all the evidence points to a singular lack of creativity from this top-heavy government department. The most important position is held by Ari Juliano Gema: “facilitating” intellectual copyrights, and performance rights would go a long way to boosting the economy of writers and musicians.
Working at provincial and regency levels, by providing information and assistance at the local ‘cultural’ level, is a must. Presumably that’s part of Hari Sungkari’s brief in providing infrastructure. The priority does not lie abroad, but here. The Tourism Ministry is perhaps deluded in thinking that tourist numbers will double to 20 million in just a couple of years. Even so, if local artists and artisans received greater practical support, and not by way of regulatory strictures, and were able to ‘market’ their wares more effectively in and around their home bases, then tourists would be attracted.
And one more thing Pak Triawan: please tell Jakarta Gov. Ahok that cutting the budget of the city’s Culture and Tourism Agency so that there would not be any festivals, unless sponsored by cigarette companies, is a bad thing to do.