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Artist coalition calls on government to improve preemployment card program

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, May 7, 2020  /  03:33 pm
Artist coalition calls on government to improve preemployment card program

According to the Education and Culture Ministry, more than 37,000 art workers are currently in need of financial support. (Shutterstock/File)

The Indonesian Arts Coalition (KSI) has called on the government to better implement its preemployment card program for the art sector in order to help workers in the industry make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, KSI advocacy coordinator Hafez Gumay said the government should change its policy if the main purpose was to fulfill people's basic needs.

"The preemployment card should be implemented to make sure that those who are in a vulnerable position can survive, instead of adding more hardship due to the complicated administration process that causes confusion and uncertainties," he said.

According to the Education and Culture Ministry’s Cultural Directorate General, more than 37,000 art workers are currently in need of financial support. Those who earn less than Rp 10 million (US$661) per month and are married are given the option to apply for benefits under the Keluarga Harapan (Family Hope) program, while those who have the same income but are single may benefit from the preemployment card program.

The preemployment card program was initially created by the administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to teach new skills to the workforce by granting them access and funding to a broad range of training programs, but it was revamped to help those who had lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Under the program, each participant will receive Rp 1 million to cover online training costs, Rp 2.4 million in incentives for four months, which will only be disbursed if a participant completes a course, and another Rp 150,000 if they complete a job survey.

Hafez said the requirement to participate in training prior to receiving the incentive was not appropriate for the current situation as it would only delay the flow of funds to those who needed them the most. 

"The program's training materials for art workers are also still very limited. It would be better to allocate the online training cost of Rp 1 million to the recipients’ incentives,” he said.

As the monthly incentive is only Rp 600,000 per month, the program should be combined with other incentives in order to lessen the burden of art workers, such as tax deductions or exemptions, rate reductions for electricity and water bills, and direct support in the form of staple food packages, according to the coalition.

The KSI also called on local administrations to help art workers during the pandemic. It praised the Malang city administration for giving out incentives worth Rp 300,000 per month for three months to at least 500 of people in the industry, and it is hopeful that other regions will follow suit. 

Read also: ‘Preemployment card ineffective, gimmicky’, CEO participant claims

According to the KSI's official website, at least 234 art events have been cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic, including 113 tours, concerts and music festivals, 33 exhibitions, 10 dance performances and 46 theater, pantomime, shadow puppet and storytelling events. 

Workers in the film industry have also been heavily impacted by the pandemic, with film productions canceled and movie theaters closed.

The KSI's art and cultural policy researcher, Eduard Lazarus, said Indonesia could learn from China, as one of its provincial administrations, Zhejiang, had allocated incentives totaling 10 million yuan (US$1.4 million) to help film workers rent spaces, equipment and accommodation. The Xiangshan city administration has cut building, studio and accommodation rental fees by up to 50 percent and given discounts of up to 20 percent for equipment, properties, costumes and transportation rental fees.

Founded in 2013, the KSI consists of around 255 organizations and individuals across 19 Indonesian provinces. The organization aims to create a healthier art ecosystem, including by advocating for various policies within art and culture sectors and strengthening the knowledge and network management of its members. (wir/kes)

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