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Jakarta – Musical space is one pivotal component in the betterment of the music ecosystem. However, the improvement of musical space doesn’t merely rely on hard infrastructure. Many factors should be taken into account. Five speakers talked about those factors in the discussion “Examining Musical Space” held by The Indonesian Arts Coalition (Koalisi Seni) on Tuesday, 6 October 2020.

The first focus is on local values. The community of Ciptagelar– one of the indigenous villages in West Java, for instance, stressed the need to understand that some communities have their own context and local policy. Umi Kusumawati, as representative of Ciptagelar, said many people often view the village simply as a tourism destination. This point of view becomes a challenge, because when people participate in the hundred-years-old village’s harvest ceremony “Seren Taun”, they think it can be modified easily.

“Some people come, ask for a certain music performance and alter existing ceremonies. We have to reject it. We hope that whoever wants to contribute to the development of the arts, whether it is the government or private sector, they have to respect local values, not change it,” she said.

Meanwhile, Heri Budiman, co-founder of Rimbang Baling Music Festival – which exists to support forest protection in Riau Province – said that Indonesia’s music ecosystem needs more philanthropists instead of sponsors who demand publication on some banners and billboards. Those publications are not necessary, and in the end, end up as trash and pollution in the environment.

“We need those who give support sincerely. We also cannot accept support from timber and palm oil companies that destroy nature. And as for the government, we need more pro-nature policies,” said Heri who is also a member of Koalisi Seni.

Nova Ruth, musician and member of Koalisi Seni, emphasized the needs for change within the music ecosystem, particularly regarding mindset and mutual trust.

“When we carried out an event in each location along our route, we had to face a lot of protocols. It drains our energy. We need to strengthen our trust in each other. For example, amidst the pandemic, even though we already had a rapid test, we were still not allowed to go ashore,” said Nova, who is also the initiator of Arka Kinari, a floating art performance which has travelled across the country to campaign for climate change.

Dangdut researcher, Michael HB Raditya, said that apart from infrastructure, other challenges in improving local music space include permit, dangdut associations, and the perspective on dangdut itself. 

In the early New Order, there was a tendency for Malay Orchestras to be owned by high rank officers to make licensing easier. Some organisers have to put military uniforms on certain participants during dangdut concerts, to make it seem like they have permission.

“Recently, some local governments manage permits by requiring dangdut musicians to register and get cards. Data collection is a strategic step, but unfortunately it’s only for the sake of permits. Same goes to dangdut associations, which only exist for member registration. Associations should play an important role in education, coaching, and consultation on more crucial matters. In addition, dangdut should not be seen as a money machine, but as a cultural activity which is constantly changing. So, in the future, musical space and infrastructure will not only be a matter of procedure, it could also be a stimulant to enhance joyful creation of music,” he said.

The initiator of the intimate music event, Sofar Sounds Jakarta, Almira Joesoef, explained that better support by many parties is needed to improve musical space. For instance, the government and the private sector could provide more basic facilities such as tarpaulins and public toilets. 

The government can also provide financial support for music bands, including Sofar Sounds alumni, to perform abroad. Music education is also important for stakeholders in the music ecosystem. Lastly, appreciation for musicians even as simple as clapping when performance ends is much needed.

“Also put out your cell phones during concerts,” he joked. “We need all the support, not only from the government, but from all sectors because we are building an ecosystem. Any help will be meaningful, the most important thing is the cooperation among us.”

Moderated by musician Cholil Mahmud, the discussion was initiated by members of Koalisi Seni who are engaged in the music ecosystem. To advance the ecosystem, discussions on other important topics in music will be held again in the future.

Download this press release here. The minutes of the webinar can be accessed on this page.

Watch the footage of this webinar in the video below: 

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