Performance artist Melati Suryodarmo's 'Sweet Dream Sweet,' staged at Museum MACAN in West Jakarta on Feb. 26. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Gov't Sets Up Programs to Keep Arts and Creative Industries Alive During Pandemic


MAY 12, 2020

Jakarta. The Education and Culture Ministry has been setting up new programs to help art and creative workers who have lost their income during the coronavirus pandemic to get back on their feet.

According to data from the Indonesian Art Coalition (KSI), a total of 234 art events had been canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic by April.

They included 113 music concerts, tours and festivals; 46 performance art events including plays, pantomime shows, wayang and storytelling; 33 art exhibitions; 30 film events including productions, premieres and festivals; 10 dance performances and two literary events.

"The government has an important role in accommodating art workers since no one wants to invest in art events during the pandemic, especially since there might be more extensions on the large-scale social restriction," the ministry’s director-general of cultural affairs, Hilmar Farid, said on Tuesday.


The ministry now plans to hold a major event at the end of the year that will involve performers in virtual art, performance art and music.

Hilmar said the ministry is also helping the film industry to get back on its feet by creating new projects in 20 regions and issuing safety protocols for filming.

"The event and projects will have to wait until the large-scale social restrictions have ended. We're in constant communication with the Covid-19 Task Force to make sure our initiatives follow their safety protocols," he said.

Hilmar said the ministry has also prepared care packages for art workers who have lost their income during the Covid-19 pandemic. The packages will be distributed this week.

Shift to Digital Platforms

The pandemic has forced many musicians to make the move from physical to digital platforms, said Candra Darusman, a legendary jazz musician and the chairman of the Indonesian Musicians Union Federation (FESMI).

"Since the pandemic began, Indonesian musicians have been performing a lot online, but it's been difficult for those who don't have a strong fanbase," Candra said in a video conference with the Education and Culture Ministry. 

Candra said musicians with a small fanbase should do more collaborations with other artists. For instance, a pianist can perform a collaborative show with a poet. 

According to him, the pandemic is affecting music artists in many different ways. 

"According to the Indonesian Wedding Music Vendors Association (IPAMI), many wedding bands have lost their income and their members have to take on other jobs," he said.

Dancers and stage actors have also been performing online during the pandemic, theatrical artist Elyandra Widharta said.

However, he said traditional stage actors in regional areas have not been able to jump on the Zoom and Instagram Live bandwagon. 

"Most traditional art performers in regional areas don't understand how digital platforms work. The government should educate them and provide them with better internet access," Elyandra said.

The Education and Culture Ministry meanwhile is preparing policies to regulate art and creative performances on digital platforms.

"We're preparing policies for 'the new normal' in the arts and creative industry as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic. We've been talking with production houses, cinema managements and musicians to formulate the rules if we want to make the shift to digital,” Hilmar said.

Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry's special staffer Ricky Pesik meanwhile admitted Indonesia currently does not have adequate digital infrastructure for the arts and creative industry.

"We only have adequate digital infrastructure for e-commerce," he said.

Moreover, Ricky said, integrating individual data can be a challenging part of the expected digital migration and requires cooperation from the art workers since the government can't only depend on basic data.

"Art workers need to input data on their habits and behaviors. We'll use them to give equal opportunities for everyone. For example, we can set up an algorithm that will allow an artist to perform three times a day because that would be most beneficial to them," he said.