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The Revitalisation of Jakarta's Taman Ismail Marzuki

EXPLORE JAKARTA | 7 January 2021
The Revitalisation of Jakarta's Taman Ismail Marzuki
Photo courtesy of Jakarta Propertindo

The revitalisation of Jakarta’s cultural icon, Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) has attracted major attention from many circles, not only from artists and the cultural community but also wider society since the groundbreaking on 3 July 2019. Considerable polemic, including discussions on commercialization and the new TIM management accompanied its construction journey. Our prominent arts and culture contributor Amir Sidharta has written about how the polemic emerged.

One by one, the polemics slowly came to light, particularly related to the development of the facilities. JakPro, the City owned organisation in charge of the project’s Marketing Communication Manager for TIM Revitalization Project, Yeni Kurnaen said that the current design and development have been the result of long discussions with fellow artists also the Jakarta Art Council (DKJ).

The revitalization itself is divided into two stages consisting of the rebuilding several existing facilities and presenting several new facilities to strengthen the position TIM as the centre for international cultural arts. The first stage has been carried out from the front to the middle, including three complexes, Amir Hamzah mosque which is completely finished and was officially inaugurated on 3 July 2020, the car park as well as a green open garden, the 14-storey Gedung Panjang (long building) with terasering-shaped which includes HB Jassin Literary Documentation Center, Galeri Cipta Seni and Wisma Seni which previously had its function removed.

"The progress of this phase one has reached more than 50%, the parking buildings and parks will be completed 99% by the end of the year and Gedung Panjang has reached 31% with the completion target is mid-2021." Yeni confirmed to NOW! Jakarta who also said that the JakPro is preparing the tender process for the second stage which starts construction early 2021.

The second phase plan includes the construction of the Graha Bakti Budaya (GBB) building, renovating the Planetarium and building the Arena Theater, Galeri Cipta 2 & 3, museum, cinema and amphitheater which is targeted for completion in mid-2021.

The green open space in the new TIM area will also be much bigger than the previous 11% expanding to 27.2% later. The revitalization will also bring back several functions that were lost such as Wisma Seni (guesthouse of the arts) and Arena Theater (theatre arena) and presenting a new function, namely the Teater Halaman (theatre in the courtyard). All of this was the result of discussions with other artists and input from them finding out their real need for proper spaces for their arts expressions.” said Yeni.

Yeni also acknowledged that the artists rejected the plan to bring back commercial cinemas, they asked to bring back the Kineforum which had been lost to screen films that were not shown in commercial theaters. Meanwhile Wisma Seni, which is part of the amendment to the initial development plan, is a solution to the controversy over the construction of a hotel in the TIM area. The facility will be at the top of the Gedung Panjang which will provide 140 rooms (reduced from 190 rooms).

"As in our goal, the revitalization of the TIM is aimed at building an art ecosystem because if it is not facilitated, the artistic potentials of the artists will not be conveyed." Yeni said.

Strengthening the arts ecosystem in Jakarta is also a concern for DKJ. Danton Sihombing, Chairman of DKJ said that what is meant by an ecosystem here is a system that can animate. The art ecosystem is in the area of the arts community, in the bureaucracy in this case the regional apparatus, in the education area and there are also private parties and support systems in Jakarta. It’s not seen only from the interconnection. Danton added that the most difficult thing in formulating an ecosystem is its interdependence in which both parties must support and need each other.

“The most appropriate interdependence example is a kind of cooperation agreement document. The most obvious example of this ecosystem that has not been running well is when the beginning of the pandemic, many artists were completely affected by their economic circumstances. Indeed, there is a solution in the form of social assistance, but it seems that it hasn't happened automatically. We have learned a lot from there.” explained Danton.

In addition to strengthening the ecosystem, DKJ has been discussed with the Jakarta government through TGUPPj (Team for Accelerated Development) that also has a plan to develop art nodes which will be the start of art districts in Jakarta for example in transit oriented development areas, such as in Lebak Bulus, Cipete, Fatmawati and others.

“So everything will no longer be centralized in the TIM. Art will be distributed a lot in Jakarta. Imagine if there were a lot of art nodes in this city, with the city surrounded by arts and culture talks, if that happened I was sure Jakarta would be a better place. Since the MRT was established, the behavior of some people has created some smart citizens. They feel proud to use the MRT, which means they have contributed by not adding to congestion and pollution and also more discipline. If we add to this opportunity by strengthening the experience of arts and culture, the cognition of the people of Jakarta will be very good. So far, art spots are not really on their radar.” Danton stated.

DKJ which becomes the bridge between artists and the government, both hopes that the renovation of the TIM can be completed on time, at the end of 2021 so that activities can be carried out again.