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Cafe musicians protest at denial of livelihoods

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, July 9, 2020  /  04:40 pm
Cafe musicians protest at denial of livelihoods

The musicians, whose livelihoods depend on performing live in cafes and restaurants, have not been able to work since the administration applied large-scale social restrictions (PSBB). (Shutterstock/pakawat_p)

Musicians grouped under the Indonesian Cafe Musicians Association (PMCI) staged a rally in front of City Hall on Wednesday, demanding a solution to their lack of income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The musicians, whose livelihoods depend on performing live in cafes and restaurants, have not been able to work since the administration applied large-scale social restrictions (PSBB).

“We haven’t worked for four months. There has been no income whatsoever because we are restricted from performing in cafes or restaurants,” PMCI spokesperson Aray Aryad said as quoted by tempo.co.

“Some of us have sold our instruments. We have no other means of work.”

According to Aray, cafe musicians are daily workers who do not receive monthly salaries let alone benefits. They get paid only when they perform.

The rallying musicians demanded that Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan allow them to play music again in establishments. They are ready to comply with the administration’s health protocols.

“Cafe musicians will not attract crowds, unlike music concerts. So please differentiate from that,” Aray said.

Meanwhile, the Jakarta administration said that it encouraged establishments to keep musicians employed during the pandemic.

Read also: Only drive-in concerts allowed during transition phase

Musicians stage a rally to demand help as they suffer loss of livelihoods amid the COVID-19 pandemic.Musicians stage a rally to demand help as they suffer loss of livelihoods amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Tempo.co/Muhammad Hidayat)

“We are encouraging cafe musicians to record their performances, which can be then played in cafes to replace live music,” Cucu Ahmad Kurnia, head of the Jakarta Tourism and Creative Economy Agency, said as quoted by tempo.co.

Cucu said he had met with PMCI representatives and had agreed on negotiations to record their performances.

He said cafes would have to provide special screens to accommodate the performance videos of musicians who used to work for them.

“So, the musicians will still get paid although only performing through a recording,” Cucu said.

The agency said it would immediately send letters to establishments to restart cooperation with the cafe musicians.

Many Jakarta restaurants have resumed dine-in services after months of closure caused by the pandemic. Major cinema chains are also set to welcome moviegoers again under the so-called "new normal" protocols starting July 29. The agency will allow music concerts as well, but only in outdoor, drive-in form. (gis/kes)

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