Culture and Science
Indonesia’s cultural hubs are Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Bandung (painting, music) and Bali (town of Ubud). Writers such as the late Pramudya Ananta Toer († 2006) are world-renowned.
There is an increasing orientation towards the Asia-Pacific due to growing socio-economic ties to this region. Culture-conscious programmes on the numerous radio and TV channels are very rare. The New Year’s Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (broadcast on Metro TV) stands out like a lighthouse – in spite of all the commercials. Indonesia’s TV programmes feature mostly domestic soap operas („cinetron“) as well as productions from China, Korea, India and Brazil.
As concerns European classical music, the Nusantara Symphony Orchestra has become a commendable contributor in recent years. Under the Austria-educated conductor and pianist Avip Priatna, the Batavia Madrigal Singers have attained international renown for their choral music. Several Indonesian choirs participated in the 5. International Choir Reunion in Graz in July 2008 and won many prizes.
Jazz enjoys great popularity in Indonesia as a widespread pastime. The international „JavaJazz“ Festival Jakarta takes place every year in March and is one of the biggest events of its kind. Austrian musicians regularly participate as well.
The Komunitas/Teater Utan Kayu (TUK) in Jakarta, founded by the writer, poet, editor and activist Goenawan Mohamad, constitutes an important forum for contemporary art. In 1971 he founded “TEMPO”, a weekly magazine intermittently banned during the Soeharto-era because of its critical stance against the regime. In 2008 the Komunitas Utan Kayu established „Salihara“, a new cultural centre in South Jakarta and important reference point especially for contemporary performing arts.
The official visit of the director of the Cultural Policy Section in the Austrian Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Emil Brix, to Indonesia and Singapore in April 2009 facilitated the assessment and intensification of the respective cultural and scientific ties.
The Austrian Embassy’s cultural focal points are music and new media/film. As a “music country,” Austria enjoys an excellent, almost unique reputation in the region, which in the past has allowed the Embassy to organise commercial projects such as the two very successful New Year’s concerts of the „Symphonia Vienna“ orchestra in Jakarta in January 2009. In addition, the first „Kempinski Vienna Ball“, organised jointly by the Austrian Embassy, the city of Vienna and the Austrian Tourism Association in Jakarta in October 2009, was a big success.
Films are very popular among Indonesians. In cooperation with other EU Embassies and the local Goethe-Institut the Austrian Embassy was able to organise screenings of Austrian films and co-productions (such as Oscar-winning “Die Fälscher” [“The Counterfeiters”] and Oscar-nominated “Revanche”).
On November 29th 2006, then Austrian Minister of Education, Elisabeth Gehrer, and the former Indonesian Minister for Research and Technology, Kusmayanto Kadiman, signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Vienna regarding cooperation in research and science, which encourages direct contacts between Indonesian and Austrian universities, among other things. At a ceremony in Vienna in May 2009, Minister Kusmayanto was awarded the “Gold Decoration for Services to the Republic of Austria” by Johannes Hahn, former Austrian Minister of Science and Research.
Indonesia is particularly interested in cooperating in the fields of university and science. Thanks to an initiative by Prof. Rode from the University of Innsbruck, there has been close cooperation between Indonesian and Austrian universities since the 1990s. He initiated the ASEA-Uninet Network (since 1994), an Austrian-founded and Europe-wide operating university network that initiates and supports cooperation in research with and within Southeast Asian countries. In 1997, a study centre for computer chemistry at the Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta was set up with Austrian capital.
In 2011, 9Indonesians graduate students were supported through scholarships of the Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research (OeAD).
Every year several Austrian university professors visit Jakarta and Yogyakarta through ASEA-Uninet to interview potential candidates for scholarships. Austrian professors lecture at the Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta for short assignments. Kusmayanto Kadiman (Minister for Research and Technology until October 2009) used to be the ASEAN-Uninet coordinator. Since 2009 the University of Vienna, in cooperation with Gadjah Mada and other institutions, has been organizing a summer university in Yogyakarta for students of the Vienna University of Economics and Business and the Vienna University of Technology.
An intercultural dialogue involving the Indonesian Foreign Ministry has been in place since 2008 and includes exchanges of diplomats and seminars. An Austro-Indonesian symposium for dialogue on “State, Law and Religion in Pluralistic Societies” at the University of Vienna in May 2009 was a big success.
At the 2009 National Day reception, the Embassy presented a bilingual (English-Indonesian) brochure entitled „Austria-Indonesia“.