Jokowi Talks About Indonesia’s Creative Industries with Arkana

By LINDA SILAEN in the Wall Street Journal Blog


JAKARTA–Matt Hart, the guitarist for popular British dance band Arkarna, congratulated President-elect Joko Widodo and talked with him about the music industry during a visit to Jakarta.

President-elect Joko Widodo posts for the media with Arkarna guitarist Matt Hart. The British rocker was in town to personally congratulate Mr. Widodo on being declared the winner of Indonesia’s July 9 election.
Linda Silaen/The Wall Street Journal

In a meeting at City Hall Mr. Widodo said the two mainly discussed Indonesia’s creative industries, particularly music. To boost the country’s creative industry, Mr. Hart, who wore a full black suit, suggested that Mr. Widodo strengthen law enforcement, set the basic infrastructure and give incentives to people who plan to invest in those areas.

Mr. Widodo, who has resumed his duties as governor until inauguration in October, said he knows several songs of Arkarna’s songs, including “Eat Me” and “Block Capital.”

A number of international musicians – including Sting and Jason Mraz –  sent Mr. Widodo messages of support during the campaign. Guns N’ Roses’ guitarist Bumblefoot and a popular metal magazine sent words of congratulations to Mr. Widodo, a well-known metal head, after Indonesia’s elections commission declared him the winner of the July 9 election.

Since then, a number of Mr. Widodo’s supporters have clamored to be seen with him. His volunteer team has also set up a post in Central Jakarta to handle applications coming in for Cabinet positions.

Arkarna performed in Jakarta in late May and Mr. Widodo, also known as Jokowi, appeared on stage and sang during the show.


“I said to Ollie, please sing a Betawi song,” Mr. Widodo says in the video, referring to an ethnic group native to Jakarta. “But he said he would agree on the request that I sing with him… that was a hard request. Then I contemplated for two days and decided alright. But I have to [warn] you again, my voice is not good.”

Wearing a leather jacket over a black t-shirt, Mr. Widodo battled through microphone problems to croon the song called “Nonton Bioskop” alongside Arkarna lead singer Ollie Jacobs and two other Indonesian musicians, Dyandra and Bondan.

Mr. Hart spoke with reporters about his latest visit with Mr. Widodo. Edited excerpts.

WSJ: What do you think about Jokowi?
Mr. Hart: It’s no surprise that officially we’ve been supposing his campaign. For me it is important to come in person [to congratulate him]. When you see how humble he is, how well he listens to the people … I think will bring a strong future for Indonesia.

WSJ: What change do you think he’ll bring for Indonesia?
Mr. Hart: I think the change will be extremely positive, and I think it’s now the time that people look to the changes

WSJ: Do you have plans to sing together with Jokowi?
Mr. Hart: I will be delighted to teach him.

WSJ: What kind of songs?
Mr. Hart: When I teach people, I like to teach them pop songs.

Cultural Conservation Through Enterprise

I was on an Air Asia flight a couple of days ago and read about a great initiative aimed at reviving traditional trades and professions through community-led conservation efforts in their in-flight magazine. The project in the article highlighted a collaborative initiative between expert designers from the UK, and traditional Jogja silversmiths called ‘Conservation Through Enterprise’. 


Slider HS 4
More Than Craftsmen
In April, the AirAsia Foundation collaborated with the British Council to organise a design innovation workshop with experts from the UK for 22 traditional silversmiths in Kotagede, Yogyakarta.
During the five-day workshop, the silversmiths were introduced to the latest design processes by Simon Fraser and Elizabeth Wright from Ultra-Indigo, a London-based design consultancy.
They were guided by Fraser and Wright in design techniques to help the transition from craftsmen to designers. This workshop is part of the Air Asia Foundation’s ‘Conservation Through Enterprise’ initiative with the Indonesian Community Architects’ Collective (Arkom Jogja) to encourage community-led conservation efforts by reviving traditional trades and professions.
The link to this article can be found here in Air Asia’s online version of its’ in-flight magazine. The above image is from



Jakarta’s Betawi Batik Tradition



Iconic Ondel-Ondel of Jakarta’s Betawi People – image from

Two women are drawing ondel-ondel (traditional Betawi giant effigies) with hot wax on pieces of brown cloth on the terrace of a house in Terogong, South Jakarta, while two others are busy preparing batik for display.

Aap Hafizoh, one of the women who works at the Terogong Betawi batik workshop, told The Jakarta Post that batik with motifs reminiscent of Jakarta, such as ondel-ondel and the National Monument (Monas), attracted buyers, particularly tourists visiting the capital city.

“As demand is increasing, we are producing more batik with Jakarta-related designs,” she said.

She said that Betawi batik had its own traditional motifs, like buketan (flowers), but demand for such designs was low.

Siti Laela, a 50-year-old Betawi native who owns the workshop, said the prospects for a Betawi batik business were promising, even though its development had been reinvigorated only within the last few years.

“Although my revenue is still unstable, it has been increasing since I opened the workshop in September 2012,” she said.

Siti explained that the workshop’s monthly sales, for example, had increased to between Rp 15 million (US$1,320) and Rp 25 million this year, up from between Rp 6 million and Rp 10 million in 2013.

However, despite the promising outlook, Betawi batik producers needed to work hard to popularize their products because their competitors from other regions, many of whom have produced batik for far longer, were also promoting their own products, she said.

Batik is becoming more popular in Indonesia and a number of regions in the country are revitalizing their batik production since the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added Indonesian batik to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in August 2009.

Laela said Betawi batik was still struggling to gain the same popularity as batik from other regions, such as Pekalongan and Surakarta in Central Java, and Yogyakarta.

She said her business had become more popular, thanks to media coverage.

“It would be hard for me to promote the business on my own as my finances are limited,” she said.

Nur Yaum, the owner of the Gandaria Betawi batik workshop, also in Terogong, said that her business was growing more popular as several government institutions bought batik uniforms for their employees.

She said the workshop’s income ranged between Rp 5 million and Rp 10 million per month.

“Besides the lower popularity, the Betawi batik industry is also facing a challenge in recruiting human resources,” Laela said.

She added that she had tried to encourage unemployed women living near her workshop to work for her, but they were not interested.

Laela’s workshop only employs eight women, meaning they have to work overtime when several orders come in at once.

Shanda Chandradini, deputy chairman of the Betawi Batik Family (KBB), a community of Betawi batik makers in Jakarta, said half of the group’s 12 members had difficulties in obtaining production equipment, such as canting (a pen-like tool for imprinting designs with hot wax), dyes and wax pans.

“Because of the lack of equipment, some of our members have to dye the cloth and cleanse wax at the KBB’s workshop in Marunda, North Jakarta,” she said.

Shanda said another challenge in developing Betawi batik businesses in Jakarta was the environmental impact.

“KBB members based in Betawi batik workshops have expressed their concerns about the management of the waste produced,” she added.

Shanda said that to help overcome some of the challenges, the Jakarta administration planned to establish a workshop in cluster C at the Marunda low-cost apartment complex in North Jakarta to support the Betawi batik industry.

Meanwhile, Laela proposed that the administration should establish an exhibition space in the heart of the city to promote Betawi batik.

Note from Tresno Artisanry – The Betawi (Orang Betawi, or “people of Batavia”; also called “Betokaw” in Betawi slang) are the descendants of the people living around Batavia (the colonial name for Jakarta) from around the 17th century.[1] The Betawis are mostly descended from Southeast Asian ethnic groups such as MalaySundaneseJavaneseBalineseMinangBugis, Makassar, Ambonese, mixed with foreign ethnic groups such as MardijkerPortugueseDutchArabChinese andIndian brought to or attracted to Batavia to meet labour needs, including people from Indonesia. They have a culture and language distinct from the surrounding Sundanese and Javanese. The Betawis are known for their music, traditions and food as well as being overtly Islamic, egalitarian, short tempered, direct and open to others.