Artists, government officials, businesspeople and members of the public met to discuss strategies on how best to fund Indonesia’s arts and culture initiatives at the Erasmus Huis Dutch Cultural Center in Kuningan, South Jakarta.
The event, attended by 75 people, was organized by the Public Interest Research and Advocacy Center (PIRAC) with funding from Hivos, a Dutch-based organization.
Popular actor Butet Kartaredjasa, who spoke at the gathering, emphasized the importance of the arts to society.
“Art is not only about creating art products and the artists, it also educates, inspires and enlightens the public,” he told the gathering.
He said he believed the public played an important role in preserving and developing art and culture. He encouraged educating the public about the importance of the arts.
Attendees agreed that there were three basic strategies that could be used to support the arts in Indonesia: Support from government policies, philanthropy and art product development.
Butet criticized the government’s lack of clear policy on the arts.
PIRAC executive director Hamid Abidin said, “Government policy does not provide clear support for the sector.”
Participants also discussed ways in which the government could better support the arts.
Ratna Riantiarno of Teater Koma spoke at the event, saying, “In many instances, artists must fend for themselves to get funding when they are invited abroad.”
She suggested the government bridge the funding gap. Currently the state allocation for the arts is less than 1 percent of the national budget.
Linda Hoemar Abidin of the Kelola Foundation suggested that if the government could not fund arts and culture activities, it could at least help increase funding by providing tax breaks for companies that provided grants for preserving and developing arts and culture.
She pointed out that art advocates supported the inclusion of a tax deduction for arts and culture in the draft of the 2008 law on taxation when it was first discussed at the House of Representatives.
However, during the debate on the draft content, legislators dropped this article from the final bill.
Herri Haryadi of Jawa Pos, said, “There are many companies willing to fund arts and culture programs, but they need encouragement. My findings show that artists often simply do not know how to formulate a good proposal.”
Ratna Riantiarno, however, reminded the gathering that funding for arts and cultural activities did not always have to come from large companies.
The director general of culture and tourism marketing, Sapta Nirwandar, said the government was open to new ideas and would support artists in their efforts to fund their activities.
“The government has always tried to support the arts and culture sector