The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Presenter Interview
Training arts managers to support the activities of the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic artists of Indonesia   Jakarta's art NPO Kelola
Sato: Could you tell us about the theaters in Indonesia?

Kusumo: Every provincial capital has what they call Taman Budaya, which is translated “cultural space.” We have around 32 Taman Budaya throughout the country and each facility usually has two theaters. Jakarta has three theaters in the Art Center, the Jakarta Performing Arts Theater, the Goethe Institute Hall, one theater at Jakarta Arts Institute (Institut Kesenian Jakarta), and a small theater at Utan Kayu, and one theater in Salihara which will open in October this year. .

Sato: You began by managing for Sardono and have now been a producer for Indonesia’s leading performing artists for more than 30 years. Where does your passion come from to continue working in this way for so long?

Kusumo: It goes back to my spirit to “support artist friends,” as I mentioned earlier, and I would like to think that is what I am doing. In the “good” days of the Art Center, support from the Arts Council and the Art Center was enough for an artist to do a production or more. For example a prolific theater director Arifin C. Noor could sometimes do four productions a year and as the promotions were very good, there was always good audience, but the support has been decreasing gradually, and the Arts Council does not give enough support any more. So artists started to look for funding and sponsorship.
    During my career in the arts I saw so many talented artists who had difficulty in producing their own work because they didn’t have a person or manager who could get support for their work. Some of them finally stopped working. You see so much talents not been fulfilled because of the enormous obstacles. I was probably more successful than others at producing and getting support. After so many years of producing, I want to do something else, something which could benefit more people.
    I think there is growing concern about how less and less young people are interested in pursuing the arts. For example, in dance, nobody after Sardono’s generation. There is only Boi Sakti, who has not done any work in a while, Martinus Miroto and Mugiyono but there are only a few.
    Indonesia has very rich cultural heritage and so much to offer. If we don’t do something about this state, that culture will be lost—just like Indonesia has lost a lot of its tropical rainforests. Thirty-five years ago, many environmentalists started to say that the cutting of trees has to stop, if not the rainforests will be lost. But nobody paid attention, including the government and now they are almost gone. I think Indonesia’s diverse cultural heritage is just like that. If we don’t do something about it, it will go away in 25 years.

Sato: Did your concern lead to the founding of the nonprofit organization Kelola in 1999?

Kusumo: It was not exactly like that. The concern was there, but our initial thoughts were about how some artists are more successful than others. A lot of it was due to the management of the group. If you have a good producer and manager, you can get funding and work. So our initial concern was how we help to build the capacity of managers who can work together with the artists because artists cannot do everything. Kelola initially did a lot of workshops in management all over the country. We started really small, and offered workshops on arts management. Some people still think we focus just on arts management. For us management is a tool that when used well can increase the vitality of the arts. Kelola’s work is to promote arts and culture

Sato: How does the government evaluate Kelola?

Kusumo: We are an NPO and the government does not disturb us, but they are not helping us either. Kelola has no support from the government There is some communications with the government. When they do something, sometimes I am invited as a panelist or advisory board member.

Sato: Could you explain about the arts management programs Kelola offers?

Kusumo: In 1998 we did a pilot project. There is no formal education in arts management in Indonesia, no art university offers an arts management program. So what we wanted to do was provide arts management training. So I started to talk to trainers for business management and asked if they would be interested in collaborating with us to develop a module for arts management training. A positive response came from an organization called PPM, and together we went to many arts organizations. It was a learning process for them and for us. We met and talked with many leaders of arts organizations in Indonesia. Out of these interviews, the model for training was conceived and developed. The first arts management workshop was launched in February 1999, where the first module was tried and then revised.
    Now we have done many arts management workshops, and over 900 people have participated. A training session lasts about one week for a total of 48 hours. Training is quite interactive. We would present a concept and people work in groups to draw up and present a report by the next morning. It is more hands on and the aim is to provide a tool which will allow artists and managers to work. Our workshops are open to the public, and people interested in learning more about arts management can apply people from all over the country apply and a maximum of 24 people will be invited to join the workshop. One of the good things that has come out of these workshops is that people coming from different regions get to know each other. In Indonesia people don’t travel so much because travel is expensive. So when all these managers meet in one place, a lot of networking goes on. Through the workshops we know people all over the country. These people become part of our network, which after 9 years is quite a lot. Now people will call and ask us “I would like to go to this city. Do you know anybody in the area that we can work with?”
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