“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.
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.
With a seminar/discussion to attend in Yogyakarta this past week about internationalising Indonesia’s music, it seemed obvious to combine this with a visit to Indonesia’s oldest recording studio in Solo, an hour or so commuter train ride away.
Lokananta (379 Jl. Ahmad Yani) was the first Indonesian recording studio, established in 1932 or, depending on which article you read, in 1933. It was established by Radio Republik Indonesia with the aim of archiving radio transcriptions and producing vinyl phonograph records.
It still functions, but at nothing like its full potential given the vested political posturings and bureaucratic procedures initiated since the dawn of reformasi.
For now, you can read more here and see more photos from our visit here.
One reason I rarely post full articles here as Jakartass is because, as part of IndoJazzia, I am currently engaged in researching ‘A History of Indonesian Jazz‘, intended to be both a film documentary and accompanying book. Lokananta will obviously be a major chapter, even though they have currently only digitalised three jazz albums.
The dedicated and underpaid staff at Lokananta are worthy of much greater respect than that demonstrated by the bloated bureaucracies who, in our experience, rarely return phone calls or respond to correspondence because of their self-imposed ‘regulasi’.
As Jakartass, I close this with one thought: how come some non-Indonesians know and care more for Indonesia’s cultural history than most Indonesians?
Back in 1970, having served three years learning what it took to be a primary school teacher in inner London, I decided that it was time for some ‘me’ time and planned to set off on my first set of worldly travels early the following year.
I had been a bystander during much of the ‘hippy era’: a straight school teacher could hardly, in the memorable words of Timothy Leary, “tune in, turn on and drop out” (video). However, the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 (video – ignore the last four minutes) did offer me the opportunity to get past the school-university-school life I had lead and into my life long adventure of self-discovery.
There was some great music, Free in particular, but I slept through two hours of the Who’s three hour set and missed all of Jimi Hendrix’s last public performance because I was snugly wrapped in my grey ankle-length Czechoslovakian army greatcoat.
My one regret though, which I have retained through the years, is that my very beautiful ticket was torn in half upon entrance; I knew that it was something I would have wanted to keep in my archives.
“The main purpose of Monlam, the Great Prayer Festival, is to pray for the long life of all the holy Gurus of all traditions, for the survival and spreading of the Dharma in the minds of all sentient beings, and for world peace. The communal prayers, offered with strong faith and devotion, help to overcome obstacles to peace and generate conducive conditions for everyone to live in harmony.”
I can but agree with that. Thirty years ago I spent two and a half months in Ladakh, the northern-most part of India in the Himalayas, an area predominantly Tibetan Buddhist. This was a profoundly important part of my life, one I would love to relive yet I know that, apart from the risk of altitude sickness after a lifetime addicted to nicotine, there’s no way that I could do more than observe as I did then.
Images such as the one above will have to be enough.
…………………………………………………………… My image is taken from a short photo essay published in the Guardian. My Ladakh Diary can be downloaded from here.
An Iraqi woman walks past a shop displaying preparations for Valentine’s day in Baghdad Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images
Meanwhile, in Indonesia, last Friday, regional governments and the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) banned the celebration of Valentine’s Day, citing its potentially harmful effects on the morals of young persons.
That reinforces the notion that many leaders in the political and Muslim sphere have one-track minds focussed on (their) penises and the receptacles of (their) ejaculations.
If they weren’t so blinkered and did some minimal research by asking an internet search engine “Who was St. Valentine?”, they could well decide to promote the day which commemorates his execution.
In the year 269 AD, Valentine was sentenced to a three part execution of a beating, stoning, and finally decapitation all because of his stand for Christian marriage. The story goes that the last words he wrote were in a note to his jailer’s daughter, signing it, “from your Valentine.”
Ok, maybe Muslims don’t wish to see a Christian saint being commemorated. However, they should note that Valentine is the patron saint of married and affianced couples.
Furthermore, during the period known as the High Middle Ages, the period of European history around the 11th – 13th centuries which had a tradition of courtly love. (Think ‘King Arthur & the Knights of the Round Table‘.) In essence, courtly love was an experience between erotic desire and spiritual attainment that now seems contradictory as “a love at once illicit and morally elevating, passionate and disciplined, humiliating and exalting, human and transcendent.”
That description can be equally be the raison d’être of the Muslim fasting month of Lebaran.
Isn’t it sad that the edict emphasises the profane rather than the profound?.
As for me, I don’t like the prosaic aspects, the crass commercialisation of St. Valentine’s Day which suggests that love can be bought for a meal, a night in a five star hotel, a pink greetings card or a red teddy bear.
This 60-feet narrow boat, which is also a bookshop, has toured the canals of Britain since 2011, along with bookshop rabbit Napoleon Bunnyparte.
I need a counter-balance to the hurly burly instant consumption lifestyle encountered outside my front door. My definition of a good book is one that takes you out of yourself, away from the frustrations of traffic jams and other stressful situations so that life drifts by. It might seem paradoxical that holidays are a good time to read, but a good book is like drinking wine with good food: they go together.
I imagine that I would find a really good read on the Book Barge because it encapsulates the notion of slow living.
When I lived in the UK, I made a point of becoming a member of my local public library, the first one of which was housed (and still is) in this magnificent building.
On my many travels I’ve always made a point of seeking out the most interesting bookshops, hopeful that I can find a good read among the second-hand selections. In a few places, including work staff rooms, I’ve set up a book exchange or two on my travels. This has guaranteed that I’ve always had a ‘book on the go’. This is a list of the many books I read when I circumnavigated the globe in 85-6: note that I don’t make any claims to be a literature buff.
For information about Indonesia’s bookshops, check this page.
Kinokuniya (located at Sogo Plaza Senayan, Sogo Plaza Indonesia, Pondok Indah Mall, and Grand Indonesia) is one of the largest English bookstores in Indonesia. And the only ones which apparently have copies of ‘my’ book, which I should add is the number one seller among books about Jakarta in its Kindle edition..
Periplus, the distributors of ‘my’ book, don’t stock it (eh?) in their bookstores , which are widespread throughout the archipelago.
There isn’t a public library system so for the large sector of society which lives near or below the poverty line and/or in the remoter areas of the country (some 100 million). One project which deserves a mention is Taman Bacaan Pelangi (Rainbow Reading Gardens), founded by Nila Tanzil, which has transported hundreds of books to Flores and Komodo so that children can get a glimpse into worlds beyond their own.
Finally, a reminder that I have a separate page (link above) for my book recommendations and reviews.