Jakarta. The richness of Indonesia’s culture, arts and traditions too often feel under-appreciated, untapped even. Even as an ever increasing number of creative Indonesians make a name for themselves here and abroad, the stigma of them merely being glorified hobbyists for segmented crowds stifles the possibility of their making a significant global impact.
For all the fine words from politicians and individuals professing their undying nationalism and devotion to indigenous culture, frequent tourist-driven “traditional” expositions and merchandise suggest nothing but a self-induced exclusivity proving how all but Indonesians themselves are heritage buffs.
Yayasan Kelola aims to change that. Assisting artists and other creative minds through a variety of means, the Jakarta-based non-profit foundation is all about encouraging creativity and promoting the country’s art and culture locally and globally. Backed and supported by established institutions including HIVOS, the Ford Foundation, the Asian Cultural Council, the Asialink Center, Biyan Wanaatmadja, First State Investments Indonesia, and a slew of cultural centers and individual donors, Yayasan Kelola has enough power to realize its goals.
Its most recent program is Komunitas Kreatif, or Creative Community, a series which goes further than its usual artist partners. With it, Yayasan Kelola hopes to reach out to and connect with people in remote places through creative means.
Originally established in 1999 in Solo, Central Java, Yayasan Kelola has done plenty to further the art and careers of many creative people, often giving formerly unknown names a chance at the limelight through group or solo exhibitions. In 2004, the foundation moved to Jakarta to be able to work with its networks in a more effective manner.
The foundation has held a wide range of art-related activities including theater plays, concerts, puppet shows, music recitals and even stand-up comedy shows.
Its founders were now-director Amna S. Kusumo, legal expert and author Nono A. Makarim, ballet dancer Linda Hoemar Abidin, and dance expert and critic Sal Murgiyanto.
Yayasan Kelola’s communications specialist, Sufintri Rahayu, says the foundation came about naturally, as its founders realized that without a constant stream of new creative minds and traditionalists, Indonesia’s culture would slowly die off.
“Kelola was born because we knew that arts and culture can only exist through the innovation and creativity of this country’s brightest minds,” Sufintri says, adding that Kelola’s assistance comes in various forms.
This includes providing certain types of funding or material support, or providing a unique venue or space for exhibitions and showcases.
“We always try to keep up with the dynamics that are at play [among creative types],” Sufintri says. “If their needs change then we go along with that and adjust ourselves accordingly.”
Some of the foundation’s recent programs include hibah seni , or art grants, which provide funding for solo projects or group-oriented ones. A sub-program is also available especially to focus on the sometimes-overlooked segment of female artists.
“The [female-focused] grant was established in light of how underrated many female artists’ works are, especially in the world of art shows,” Sufintri says.
The foundation also does a lot of artist exchanges, and provides internship opportunities both locally and abroad.
“There are a lot of opportunities for people who would like to learn about setting up [cultural] programs, running these types of organizations, stage management, and the like,” Sufintri says.
It is through Komunitas Kreatif, however, that Yayasan Kelola wants to expand its influence. Focusing on “the marginalized and alienated,” the program seeks to encourage the creative public’s participation in the government’s National Community Empowerment Program, or PNPM, in villages across the country.
It does so, among other means, by encouraging villagers to work with creative minds in trying to better their living conditions.
One program is dubbed Teater Pemberdayaan , or Empowerment Theater, which involves artists and organizers from Yayasan Kelola putting together the villagers’ thoughts, grievances and ideas regarding their homes and what they want and can do to improve them. These ideas are then incorporated into a play performed for the villagers.
A similar program is Video Partisipatif , or Participative Video, which builds on the same idea as Teater Pemberdayaan through slightly different means.
A video made by artists of the village is screened for the villagers, whose comments and thoughts are then recorded as well. The two videos are then spliced into one final film, which — like the resulting play in Teater Pemberdayaan — will be screened for the villagers and the local government where the village is located.
Such activities by Komunitas Kreatif have been implemented all over the country, including in villages in West Kalimantan, South Sulawesi and West Nusa Tenggara.
Though these means have worked well in actively encouraging participants, there have sometimes been misunderstandings about the goals.
“The Komunitas Kreatif programs are not designed to ‘make’ artists out of non-artists [such as the villagers], but to utilize creative means with which to draw attention and encourage participation,” Sufintri says, adding that the community has received assistance from the PNPM Support Facility, or PSF, and the PNMP trust fund board, which is handled by the World Bank.
Komunitas Kreatif also provides grants to individuals or creative groups who run programs that encourage public empowerment. “That can be done through many means, including art shows, training, workshops, and other activities,” Sufintri says.
To learn more about of participate in Yayasan Kelola’s Komunitas Kreatif programs and activities, go to kelola.or.id or facebook.com/KomunitasKreatifKelola
Media The Jakarta Globe
Journalist Marcel Thee
Date March 18, 2014