Festivals promote Jakarta as regional cultural capital
Behind the visible poverty, endless traffic jams and nauseating polluted air, Jakarta has hidden treasures that are unrivaled by other big cities in the country, and possibly even in Southeast Asia.
They go together to make up the city's arts and culture scene.
The Urban Festival, a two-day festival in late August, involved a list of events, mostly beginning with the word "urban": Urban Distro, Urban Photo Exhibition, Urban Dancing, Urban Tattoo, Face Painting, Local Comics Exhibition and many others.
"As far as I know, Jiffest, for example, was the best in Southeast Asia. Last year, it attracted 63,000 enthusiasts with funding of US$500,000. Meanwhile, the Bangkok Film Festival cost US$5 million and attracted only 23,000 people. And I don't even want to compare Jiffest with festivals in Singapore or Manila; they're not in the same league," said Marco Kusumawijaya, an urban planning expert and chairman of the Jakarta Arts Council.
Marco added that although Jakarta lagged behind Singapore in infrastructural development, the Indonesian city was awash with artists.
He complained, however, that the festivals received little support from the government.
"Actually, the more independent a festival, the better it is. However, the city should see such festivals as investments. They attract visitors who spend money in hotels and restaurants in the city," Marco said. "The city administration should set targets in return for its financial support; a festival gets some funding but has to attract so many people from abroad, for example." (emphasis added)
Any chance we can direct some of that BOP income to encouraging the arts?