Kota Tua festival offers rich cultural immersion


Indah Setiawati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Fri, June 20 2014, 9:08 AM

Indonesian Chinese dancing at Festival Kota Tua
credit : Hindustan Times Jakartans will have a chance to get their fill at this weekend’s Kota Tua Creative Festival, a celebration of music, contemporary visual art, architecture and cultural heritage that will be held on June 21 and 22 in the Old Town in West Jakarta.
The two-day festival, held in conjunction with the city’s 487th anniversary, aims to encourage creative minds like artists, creators and designers to enliven public space in Old Town. The event boasts a number of exhibitions, including the contemporary arts exhibition, curated by Rizki Zaelani; an architecture showcase entitled Jakarta Old Town Reborn: 7 Projects for the City, curated by renowned architect Yori Antar; as well as kites and bamboo installations.
Music enthusiasts can enjoy live performances by guitarist Jubing Kristianto, Dutch-Ambonese singer Daniel Sahuleka, Payung Teduh independent rock bands as well as the traditional Betawi music group, Tanjidor.
Meanwhile, history lovers can take advantage of a free bike tour through the Old Town area, where 100 bikes will be made available for free rental. A museum tour, led by Komunitas Historia Indonesia (KHI), a community committed to the remembrance of historical sites, will also be on tap. Information about the tours and registration is available at
“In this creative economy era, Indonesia needs to develop human resources that are capable of creating various small- and medium-sized enterprises to turn the country’s economy wheel,” said Daliana Suryawainata, a member of the SHAU Architecture and Urbanism office in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and one of the initiators of the festival.
The festival is said to be a pilot project of the Creative Public Space Program, an enterprise that initiates the creation of temporary and permanent public spaces in prime locations in the capital city. The idea is expected to be expanded to include all areas of Jakarta.
The program is a cooperation between the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry, the Indonesian Institute of Architects European Union Chapter (IAI-EU) and the livable cities task force of the Indonesian Diaspora Network.
Although the event will be centered on Fatahillah Square, some exhibitions and activities will be held at other historical buildings in the area, including Gedung Tjipta Niaga, Gedung Kerta Niaga, Gedung Samudera and Kota Station.
One of the most intriguing locations on offer is Rumah Akar, or the House of Roots, which is an abandoned colonial house filled with enormous tree roots. Located on Jl. Kali Besar Timur, the house is very popular among photography lovers.
On regular days, visitors are required to pay a small fee to take pictures inside the house, but during the festival, the public will not be charged. On Sunday afternoon at the Bank Mandiri museum, visitors can join a photography workshop to practice their skills.
Right next door to Rumah Akar is Tjipta Niaga, another old building that will be specially open during the festival. According to the city administration’s official website, the building, which was built in 1912, boasts Dutch and Art Deco design. It was originally used as the office of Koloniale Zee en Brand Assurantie, an early 20th century insurance company.
The festival is a part of a series of efforts to revitalize the Old Town in Jakarta.
“Old Town has lost its soul. It’s getting older, it’s dying. It’s being degraded, and the characters that represent it are abandoning it,” Yori Antar said.
He said the Jakarta Old Town Revitalization Corporation (JOTRC), a consortium of private and state-owned enterprises, have attempted to implement urban renewal strategies that would focus on a number of architectural projects.



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