British Council Creative Economy

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30 October 2014

Six Creative Cities

We’re working on a research programme with six grass roots cultural organisations to map the inherent creative and cultural assets of six diverse Indonesian cities; Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Bandung, Solo, Surabaya & Makassar.

(c) Flickr user (Dennis Stauffer)

Borobudur, Yogyakarta

We’re supporting the organisations through a capacity building workshop and ongoing one-to-one support. The aim of the programme is to develop creative mapping skills and to raise awareness of the creative and cultural potential of these cities. Riccardo Bobisse, tasked with delivering the capacity building workshop, travelled to Yogyakarta in October 2014. Here he blogs about his experience, lessons learned and working in the shadow of the mighty Merapi volcano.

I am an urbanist with a passion for the cultural and creative industries and the role they play in urban regeneration. I’ve spent 15 years in the British Isles, but I am originally from Italy. Professionally, right now I’m wearing two hats in the sense that I normally work as a masterplanner (mainly in the UK but I also venture back to the continent, most recently for projects in Copenhagen and Italy) but for this project I have taken on the role of consultant for Lia Ghilardi and her company Noema Cultural and Place Mapping. I find the connection and the synergies between the two fields extremely productive: good urbanism is based on local culture!!!

I visited Yogyakarta, Indonesia to facilitate a workshop on how to map the creative and cultural industries. The purpose was to help participants to gain knowledge of creative industries’ sector-analysis methodologies, case studies, advocacy and policy initiatives from different countries. The assumption here is that a better awareness by policy-makers, civic leaders, practitioners and local communities of the distinctive cultural and creative make-up of a place may lead to the creation of sustainable, resilient, inclusive, authentic and more liveable places. 

In Yogya I was lucky to work with a fantastic group of local NGOs. It was the first time that I ran a capacity building exercise with the not for profit sector and I was extremely impressed with the quality of the work these organisations have put in place and their ambitions for the future, considering the relatively little resources they can count upon. For my part I had to respond and adapt the workshop’s content to the specific needs of the participants during the sessions, which became easier  as I became more familiar with the local context.

The workshop also gave the opportunity to the participants to network and especially to plan the next stages of their research programme, aimed at mapping the creative sector in 6 different cities (Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Bandung, Solo, Surabaya & Makassar). 

(c) Flickr user (William Veerbeek)

Also for this reason, during the workshop it was decided to maximise the amount of sessions involving hands-on exercises and working with the mapping tools, after having spent some time agreeing on definitions and looking at what other places around the world have done to map and support the creative sector.

Each individual session, and to an extent its content, were designed with the participants in order to respond to their organisational needs. At times this was quite intense and required a degree of flexibility and improvisation on my side but it’s been incredibly rewarding seeing the level of engagement and determination of the people involved. 

The setting for the workshop was remarkable, at the foot of the Merapi volcano. Here, participants were able to leave their daily worries behind and concentrate on the task at hand. This was my first time in Indonesia and the workshop was a crash course on Indonesian culture (and food!) too: working with people from many different cities of this vast country gave me a clear idea of its cultural richness.

I need to thank Lia Ghilardi, who during that week supported me via Skype from London with remote workshop sessions and feedback conversations, often at mad times of the day/night (timezone!), and the British Council team both in London and in Indonesia, and especially Felencia Hutabarat, for the energy she put (and is putting) into this project. 

I really look forward to seeing how the group of participants will engage with the mapping research using the new tools we studied and tailored together and hope to have the chance to go back there to help further! In the meantime back to Europe and my next challenge: opening a co-working space for the creative industries in Rovigo, northern Italy, this November while… carrying out my daily job as an urban designer for AR Urbanism and a consultant for Noema!

Noema Culture & Place Making @noemaresearch

AR Urbanism @ARUrbanism

Rovigo Creativa @RovigoCreativa