Preparing the Future

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  • TEMPO.CO, JakartaArtists should focus on the management and curation of activities at Taman Ismail Marzuki post-revitalization. It’s time to end the polemic over the rebuilding of the facility.

    PROS and cons related to the revitalization of the Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) Jakarta Arts Center will not be protracted if the art community and the Jakarta government are prepared to sit down and talk in an atmosphere of mutual trust. Both sides must be guided by the same aim, namely, to restore the TIM facility to its role as an integrated arts center, in line with the ideals of its founder’s half a century ago.

    Some artists in the capital are worried about a desire for commercialization behind the plan for the TIM art center. One of their objections is to the plan to build a fancy hotel there. The plan for this hotel was not included in the proposal for the TIM resulting from the competition in 2007. It only appeared after the Jakarta government appointed Jakarta Propertindo as project manager.

    The rebuilding of the art center should not be oriented towards profit seeking. Therefore, the Jakarta administration must ensure that the main aim of the revitalization is to restore TIM as a center for creativity and freedom of expression. Even if facilities such as a hotel are to be built there, the Jakarta government must guarantee that they are entirely aimed at supporting art.

    Built during the time of Governor Ali Sadikin in 1968, TIM has in its time been a laboratory, a shop window and a barometer of art in Indonesia. As a laboratory, TIM has produced a number of well-known artists who have gone on to have successful careers. As a shop window, it has been a place to show off and exhibit works of art of high aesthetic value. In its golden age, TIM was a stage for W.S. Rendra, Arifin C. Noer, Putu Wijaya and Sardono W. Kusumo – to name just a few. Therefore, TIM has also been a measure of the success, not only for artists from the capital, but also from around Indonesia.

    However, artists should not simply be opposing revitalization simply by extolling the virtues of the past. They have to look to the future, especially since the TIM revitalization project is already underway. Halting the work before it is complete will only result in the loss of the regional funds that have already been spent. The total cost of rebuilding TIM is around Rp1.8 trillion.

    There is nothing wrong with the endeavor by the Jakarta government to rebuild TIM and include modern facilities. After all, Singapore has the Esplanade arts center with good facilities. Instead of rejecting it, artists should oversee the revitalization to ensure that TIM is restored to a prestigious art center. One thing they must do is to monitor the management and ensure the curation of activities is well done.

    In other words, after the revitalization is finished, TIM must be professionally managed. An art center cannot be run in a slapdash manner. Artists must be given incentives to produce quality works.

    The TIM of the future is a TIM with modern buildings and infrastructure as an ecosystem that encourages artists to produce dazzling works of art.

    Read the Complete Story in this Week's Edition of Tempo English Magazine