Indonesia’s Burgeoning Creative Industry

Indonesia is a vast country with a population of at least 240 million people living across 17,000 islands. If you’ve ever visited the country you will have noticed the very DIY (do it yourself) attitude of Indonesians and their accompanying creative approach to life. Everywhere you look you’re likely see someone engaged in an actively making something. Whether they’re building, painting, strumming a guitar, carving intricate pieces of furniture, busking, cooking intricate cuisine. From the street seller or the inter-generational craftsman, to graduates of the nations finest art schools to those who sell works at international art auction houses, Indonesia is a country bursting with creative talent.

Not surprisingly, this attitude is also spilling into the creative sector of Indonesia’s economy, and Indonesia’s creative industry is emerging as a major economic sector in the country’s rapidly developing economy.

Indonesia’s culture and history and was inspired by the untapped potential the country has to monetize its arts and culture industry. The country’s first president, Sukarno, recognised the power in public art and engaged artists to create sculptures and artworks to inspire and evoke national pride after centuries of colonisation.

Indonesia’s creative industries are similar to the those abroad and include everything from film, music, fashion, architecture and gaming, and many other. Indonesia is clearly reaping the benefits of this fast-growing industry which has an output accounting for 7 percent GDP in 2011.

The power of the Indonesian consumer market is also growing at a rapid pace. In total there are about 74 million middle-class and affluent consumers (MACs) in Indonesia and this number will double by 2020 to roughly 141 million people. As the number of MACs increases so does the amount of disposable income, meaning individuals are more inclined to spend — and invest — on lifestyle choices, such as fashion, art, performance.

But Indonesia is not only looking towards it’s own MAC market. The country’s tourism and arts ministry is actively promoting inter-country partnerships across the creative industries to further develop its creative economy.

During November 2012 Indonesia and the UK signed an MOU relating the the creative industries between the two countries. Partnerships between the two countries’ creative industries had been grown out of a successful partnership linking the British Council (BC), Femina Media Group for Jakarta Fashion Week (JFW), UK’s Centre of Fashion Enterprise (CFE), and the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy (MTCE).


Jakarta Fashion Week (a mix of the traditional and modern). Photo courtesy

The MoU strengthened the connection between the UK and Indonesia for exchange of information and share of best practice, knowledge, and resources providing a framework to replicate the success of the Fashion partnership for the other Creative Industries such as performing arts, film and animation, arts and crafts and design.

Indonesia and South Korea have also joined forces for developing further partnerships between the two countries around the creative industries. In October 2013 the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to boost cooperation to promote creative industries. They agreed to bolster cooperation in art, crafts, music, film, performing arts and video games.

Activities resulting from these MoU will create greater opportunities to engage creative talent to develop innovation and greater collaboration. Openness to engagement with other nations who prioritise the creative industries will also, of course, open doors to Indonesian creative entrepreneurs to further develop businesses to create employment and economic growth for Indonesia. The creative industries will develop local, regional and international influence.

Indeed, it is widely recognised that tourism and the creative sector sectors, combined, have the power to bring much economic benefit to Indonesia, and can also be a powerful economic stream through which Indonesia can work toward alleviating poverty. As such, thedeep melting pot of creativity bubbling away in Indonesia has a huge potential to not only assist the lives of artists and artisans themselves, but also the economy of Indonesia as a whole.


Kate Grealy, Tresno Artisanry Indonesia

@tresnoartisanry @kategrealy