The Jakarta Post
A mural of literary figure H.B. Jassin adorns the wall of the Jakarta Planetarium Building at the Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) arts and cultural center on Feb. 20. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)
The confusion over the future of the Taman Ismail Marzuki arts and cultural center may subside somewhat after the Jakarta administration cleared up rumors about turning it into a commercial space, but some problems remain.
In a public hearing at the House of Representatives on Thursday, Governor Anies Baswedan explained that the said five-star hotel to be built in the art center was actually a dormitory for visiting artists.
“It is in our intention to turn the art and cultural center into a world art hub, to be an icon of Indonesia,” he said at the hearing of House Commission X overseeing education, culture and sports.
The revitalization of the art center, which is expected to cost a total of Rp 1.8 trillion (US$129 million), started in the third quarter of last year and is expected to finish by the end of next year.
The administration appointed Jakarta Propertindo (Jakpro) to handle the project and the maintenance of the facility after its completion.
“The management of the art center will be in the hands of the administration’s Cultural Agency together with the existing Jakarta Arts Council,” Anies said to brush away fears about the arts center becoming commercialized.
The food stalls inside the compound were the first to go, followed by the movie theater managed by XXI and the dog-eared book store Bengkel Deklamasi established by poets Jose Rizal Manua and the late WS Rendra.
The latest was the demolition of Graha Bhakti Budaya theater, while the glass building that holds two theaters will remain intact as well as the planetarium and observatory, which have been in the art center since 1964.
The mosque inside the compound, named after poet Amir Hamzah, is under renovation and is expected to finish next month to host the administration’s Idul Fitri prayer in May.
According to the master plan for the new face of Taman Ismail Marzuki that was presented during the public hearing, the added facilities will include a parking deck integrated with the existing fire station, a film center, an amphitheater, a multistory building for a library, an art gallery, a documentation center for the works of essayist HB Jassin and the Wisma Seni dormitory.
The design, which was made by Andra Matin and won the contest in 2007, will enlarge the green space in the compound to over 27 percent from the existing 11 percent.
Also attending the hearing, City Council chairman Prasetio Edi Marsudi questioned the absence of the art council to represent the art center’s stakeholders in the revitalization plan.
“Is it possible not to commercialize the facility if it was meant to be a world-class art hub?” he said, urging for a temporary halt to the project pending an agreement with the artists over the management of the art center in the future.
“A moratorium is needed to straighten up the plan. Even if it would take only two days, as long as there is a satisfying solution to all parties involved.”
Members of the Jakarta Arts Council, in their first meeting with the governor last week since the revitalization plan rollout in 2018, asked for a proper facility to keep the archives and artwork collections belonging to both the art center and the council.
“We have to struggle to keep them from the rain and humidity, and we moved them to temporary storage which is far from ideal,” said the council’s acting deputy chairman Hikmat Darmawan.
He added that in the meeting with the governor, the council was promised a role in the art center management but the job was still unclear.
“Whatever is in the store, our concern is to have quality art facilities in Taman Ismail Marzuki that cater to the need of the artists and the contemporary art sphere in current time and in the future. With this urgency, is a moratorium necessary?”
Acting chairman Danton Sihombing said that there had been a number of events, including international-class music programs, that had been delayed or canceled due to the revitalization work.
“The most frequently asked questions we receive from our partners and artists are, ‘When the renovation will complete?’ and ‘How much will the new rental fee be?’” he said.
“But we can’t give them the answer since we have never been involved in the revitalization from the start.”
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