Other nations envy the plurality and richness of Indonesia`s art and traditional culture, because it can be preserved while being exploited as a source of creative economy that could improve the welfare of the people.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia has a population of over 237.6 million, comprising 1,120 ethnic groups, each with its own art and culture, which could be used to develop the country`s creative economy for the welfare of the people.

Indonesia`s rich culture often inspire other countries to imitate it, or even claim some of its aspects to be their own, as seen in the recent issue regarding North Sumatra`s Tor-Tor dance and Gordang Sambilan music.

Rais Yatim, Malaysia`s minister of communication and culture was quoted by Malaysian state news agency Bernama recently as saying that Tor-Tor dance and Gordang Sambilan music would be added to the country`s National Heritage Law.

In the past, Malaysia had even claimed the "pendet" dance, paintings (Batik designs), and even the copyrights of several national songs, according to media reports.

A "Visit Malaysia Year" commercial, developed to boost the country`s attractiveness to the world, had featured the pendet dance as if the dance was indigenously Malaysian. The ad was broadcast by a number of local and overseas television stations.

This shows the economic potential of the arts.

Other nations envy the plurality and richness of Indonesia`s art and traditional culture, because it can be preserved while being exploited as a source of creative economy that could improve the welfare of the people.

Therefore, Tourism and Creative Economic Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said the government would continue to promote the nation's arts in the form of products, such as handicrafts, as part of the country`s creative economic development.

The government will develop cultural parks in at least 25 locations in various provinces, including in West Nusa Tenggara (NTT), to revive the nation's arts and creative economic production.

"The cultural parks will be restored in 25 locations. They can be used as places to carry out training programmes on pearl ornamental design or as centres of creative economic development," the minister stated.

To instil the sense of urgency among students with regard to the development of the country`s arts, Education and Cultural Minister Mohammad Nuh launched the 11th National Students Arts Week 2012 in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), on Monday.

The education and cultural minister inaugurated the event in the company of West Nusa Tenggara provincial government official Muhammad Nur and Unram Rector Suarpi.

The aim of the event, the organising committee chairman Nasaruddin said, was to encourage students` talent and interest in the arts.

Indonesia`s arts potential was also proven when about 25 arts teachers from Thailand visited the Indonesia Arts Institute (ISI) in Bali last week to observe the teaching and learning methods of the institute. Bali is Indonesia`s most popular tourist destination, which has its unique local dances and other traditional cultures.

"ISI rector I Wayan Rai received them and the guests were served Balinese traditional foods," ISI spokesperson Ni Ketut Dewi Yulianti said. The Thai teachers were also entertained with a Balinese traditional "gambus" dance music show, which has recently been revived.

One of the instruments in the show was a large bamboo flute called "gambuh", after which the show is named. Prof Rai explained the role of the musical instrument in the show.

"A long inhaling exercise is involved in playing the instrument," she said.

The Thai delegates were in Bali for five days, during which they also attended the 34th Bali Arts Festival and visited the museums and other tourist attractions in Denpasar, Ubud and Gianyar.

Earlier, about 26 students from the Singapore River Side Secondary School participated in the Balinese dance workshops, which were held by ISI students and lecturers.

"During their visit, the students were accompanied by four teachers," an assistant to the Denpasar ISI rector, I Wayan Suweca, M Mus said.

In Medan, the provincial capital of North Sumatra, six countries took part in the Barongsai (lion dance) Festival at Sera Guna stadium late last month.

"To date, six countries, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Indonesia, have confirmed their participation in the Barongsai Festival," local Culture and Tourism Office spokesman Agus Suriono said.

All of this explains why Indonesia must promote its art and culture as part of its creative economic development. Therefore, Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Mari Elka Pangestu is planning to develop cultural parks and art galleries throughout the country.

The minister revealed the plan to restore 25 cultural parks across the country during a meeting with entrepreneurs and pearl handicraftsmen in West Nusa Tenggara on Sunday.

The meeting was held after the minister inaugurated a pearl outlet at the Lombok Sumbawa Pearl Festival (LSPF).

During the meeting, a number of pearl businessmen and handicraftsmen said their pearl ornaments were still produced using traditional methods, because handicraftsmen had not received any training on modern methods yet.

In his response, Mari promised to provide them with a pearl design training programme so that in the future West Nusa Tenggara would be able to produce improved and modern pearl ornaments.

"For the training, trainers can be invited from universities that have design departments. They can provide training on how to do pearl business and how to design a pearl ornament in a way that it will be more attractive," the minister said.

Mari also called on the regional government to encourage creative schools to get involved in the developing pearl ornament designs.

"I agree that pearl ornament designing should not just be a self-teaching exercise. Training is needed, which could be done in the cultural parks," she said.(*)

Reporter: Andi Abdussalam
Editor: Heru Purwanto
Copyright © ANTARA 2012