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Triawan Munaf: We can create new billionaires
Triawan Munaf, during the Head of the Creative Economy swearing in ceremony at the State Palace, Jakarta (1/26). TEMPO/Subekti.
Wednesday, 25 February, 2015 | 16:54 WIB
Triawan Munaf: We can create new billionaires

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - There is no question that Triawan Munaf's background qualifies him to be chairman of the Creative Economy Board (Bekraf). He certainly is no stranger to the world of creative industry. During the 1970s he was a vocalist with the Bandung-based rock band Giant Step and a decade later, set up the Euro RSCG Adwork company. The company was the agency that came up with the logo of a red bull, which is now the icon of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). "I have worked with creative people for decades," said Triawan.

He is convinced that this sector has huge potential. In his books, the potential can earn Rp 500 trillion, or seven percent of Indonesia's gross domestic product (GDP). He predicts that five years from now, this figure can double to 14 percent of GDP. He cites as example, the popular computer game 'Slide The Block', which was created by Alegrium, a local company. "This game is now rated in the top four by the App Store. Amazing, right?" said Triawan.

In the previous administration the creative economy portfolio came under the authority of the Tourism Ministry, but was taken out by President Jokowi's government. It does not mean, however, that officials who were involved in the creative industry would automatically be absorbed by Bekraf. "They have to be checked whether they're clean or not," said Triawan.

Sixteen sub-sectors come under the supervision of Bekraf, among them: film, culinary issues, fashion handicrafts, photography, computer games and architecture. In a recent interview with Tempo he shared his ideas in developing the industry and the many challenges he faces. One month into his new job, Triawan has yet to be allocated an office, a staff and a budget. "For the time being, I must bear all the expenses," he said.


Were you appointed chairman of Bekraf as a reward for contributing to the Joko Widodo-Jusuf Kalla election campaign last year?

That's untrue. My contribution to the campaign was minimal. Many others gave more of themselves and their services. My role in the campaign was small. Please note, that I never once attended a meeting held by the campaign team.


What was your 'minimal' contribution?

Together with some friends, among them Abdee Slank, Jerry Justianto and Veronica Kolondam, we initiated a series of concerts like the one at the Bung Karno stadium and other places. In other campaign programs, I took part in the planning and implementation, together with other volunteers.


When were you first approached by the president about this job?

On January 25, one day before the inauguration ceremony.


Did you immediately take up the offer?

I was doubtful at first, but I finally saw in this offer, a message of trust and a mandate, because it fitted so well with my idea that the creative economy should be managed in a specific way. I was surprised to have been selected, because I had heard that many people wanted this position.


How interested do you think the president is about the creative economy?

When I accompanied him to Bandung some time ago, he seemed to like the creative industry a lot. He spent only 10 minutes at Pindad (the army's arms and ammunition manufacturing company) but two hours at the Bandung Creative City forum.


What was the concept you presented to President Jokowi to make him hire you?

The development of this sector, of course. Take, as a concrete example, the Kecak dance from Bali. That was created by German painter Walter Spies during the 1930s. In my view, Spies has [succeeded in] empowering the local economy so well by it that it is now a symbol of Balinese culture. You see how this dance is performed everywhere and has become a source of income for many people. This is an example of a successful arts sector.


What did the president tell you?

He asked me to accelerate this sector's development and increase its contribution to GDP.


The current potential of the creative industry is estimated to be about seven percent of GDP, or about Rp500 trillion. Five years ahead, are you optimistic it will double to 14 percent, as you predicted? What are you basing this on?

Many talents in this sector have gone global. Take the computer game, Slide the Block which is now ranked in the top four by the App Store. Amazing, right? There are many simple and ordinary kids who can create games as good as the famous Angry Birds, because to all digital natives the generation born when digital technology was still being discovered it would be easy for them to come up with such a game. The problem is that when they succeed, foreign investors buy them out for a phenomenal price, close to Rp1 billion a game. The ordinary kid talented but poor is bound to be tempted. Yet, the potential of the game can be even higher than Rp 500 billion if its business, as well as it taxes and its marketing, were managed well and professionally.


Is that what Bekraf will be doing?

Exactly. What we want is to ensure that the young talented kid is in no hurry to sell off his creation, because his creative ideas can be better developed. That's why I'm sure we can create new Indonesian billionaires. (*)


Read the full interview in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine

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