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: That is how you came to publish the directory book containing arts organizations, companies, and artists in every region of Indonesia?

Kusumo: Yes, it was around the time when we started our workshops. It was really difficult to find out who were working in the many different parts of the country. Indonesia is such a big country, it is difficult to make any artistic judgment, as we cannot see all of their work. The criteria for the directory was whether the groups are active, not about the quality of their work. Once we had the information, we thought we should share it.
    The directory includes traditional and contemporary artists, all art forms, from dance, music and theater to puppetry. It took us two years to complete the work. We started research in 1998 and the directory of Indonesian Arts and Culture was first published in 2000. There were 3,600 organizations in the directory. The updated version published in 2003 has only 2,600 groups. So 1,000 groups have disappeared. I think a part of the reason was that when we made the directory in 1998 there was a big political change in Indonesia. Suharto had been president for 32 years. There had been strong control, but after that everything became free. You could do whatever you wanted. I think the change in the number is a result of that. But when we updated it in 2003, a lot of the groups were no longer active. We don’t make any more printing versions but publish it on CD-ROM and put it up on our website. So the most updated version is now on our website.

Sato: When did Kelola start to give grants to artists?

Kusumo: That was in 2001. It’s like a development of what we have been doing. We started with giving workshops to train arts managers, but where would they go? There is no institution in the country where they can apply for support. It doesn’t make any sense. So we started to give small grants. Through the arts grants artists put the things they have learned in the arts management workshop into practice. They not only have to write a proposal, but also have to do a report both narrative and financial. For many artists in Indonesia, it was their first experience.
    Corporate sponsorships don’t really ask you to write a report because they are not interested in reading the report. They are more interested in the size of the audience a production can bring. I think the process of the arts grants has been an interesting learning curve and an important educational process for the artists.

Sato: Knowing there is so little grant money from the government in Indonesia, what was the hardest thing you had to go through to start such an organization as Kelola?

Kusumo: It was easier when we started because at the time we had full support from the Ford Foundation I think it is harder to keep it going to sustain it. This will be the challenge of Kelola in the future. Support from the Ford Foundation is decreasing steadily, so we always have to diversify our sources of funding. We have also been working hard to create interest in the work we are doing and getting financial support from within Indonesia. Since last year, we have had some success on this side, and one of our programs is now supported by funds from Indonesia individuals and corporations. It is a big challenge for us because if we want to survive into the future, we need to broaden our support base from within Indonesia.

Sato: Do you have any other funds from abroad?

Kusumo: Besides the Ford Foundation, Kelola is supported by HIVOS, Asian Cultural Council, and Asialink Center affiliated with University of Melbourne. We work in partnership with ACC and Asialink for our international residency. The program offers fellowships for Indonesian artists or arts managers to do residency in the United States or Australia from two to six months. For the international residency, we have many visual artists and curators. There are also people from film.

Sato: About the grant giving, is the financial support coming mainly from Ford Foundation?

Kusumo: It started only with Ford, but now the Arts Grants funding is 50% from Ford and 50% from HIVOS. But arts management workshop is only supported by Ford. We have workshop only once a year now. We used to do seven times a year. But for other workshops, we collaborate with different people like ACC, Asialink, and Goethe Institute, depending on the type of workshops, who would be the biggest support. We also have a national internship program, which was started to support young managers, but now we include some artists as well. Because when young managers learn something new through a week-long workshop, they only have knowledge but there is not much place to put such knowledge to work. Initially Ford supported this, but for the last three years, it has been supported by individual donations from Indonesia. What it does is to give fellowships to fourteen Indonesians every year to work with an art organization for three months. The fellowship includes transportation fees, living expenses, insurance and an allowance to see performances and buy books, etc.

Sato: Why do you think international supporters like Ford Foundation became interested in supporting Indonesian arts?

Kusumo: Ford Foundation has had an office in Indonesia for the last 50 years, so they have had a long interest in the country. In the beginning what they funded was not culture but scholarships for people to study in the United States. Many scholars in the 70s, who then became ministers actually studied on scholarships from the Ford Foundation. I think Ford started to fund the arts in Indonesia around 1988. Many Indonesian arts groups went to perform and toured around the United States.
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