Asia Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU)
Asia-Pacific Database on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)

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Policies and Actions


National level agency/organisation dedicated to preservation and promotion of traditional/folk performing arts

- Directorate for the Arts, Directorate General for Culture, Department of National Education, Republic of Indonesia
- Institute of Higher Education in the arts such as: Indonesian College of Arts and Indonesia Institute of Arts (state and private)

Prominent NGOs working in this field


Brief chronology-history

Nowadays, in the cities, new kinds of performing arts are appearing which in some cases are merely light entertainment, or in others are treated more seriously, taking their vocabulary from existing traditional performing art forms. Much detail is also given to all aspects of these kinds of performing arts which will be referred to as traditional urban performing arts.

Many kinds of performing folk arts can be found in the villages, although due to their functional nature and proletarian support, they have not been developed in as much detail as the kraton and urban forms. Nevertheless, a large number of these folk art forms do have a reasonably high level of sophistication.

Of these three types of traditional performing arts mentioned above, the folk art forms are the ones suffering most. This is due to the fact that the majority of their supporters have not had the chance to receive a good education, and hence their cultural insight is very narrow. As such, they are easily influenced, and have the desire to copy what is happening in the cities, since they consider it to be better than their own culture, whereas in fact each area possesses its own individual form and style of folk art which provides an unequalled wealth of national culture.

Many of the performing folk arts are closely connected to the traditional customs and ceremonies of a community, and are performed in connection with these ceremonies, by members of the community. With the increasing role religion is now playing in the community, many old beliefs are disappearing, and as such, the ritual ceremonies which were associated with them, are no longer being performed. In most cases, one or more performing art forms were related to each ceremony, and these art forms are also disappearing, along with the ceremonies.

Those types of performing arts which were performed only as part of a ceremony and were not interesting to watch in their own right have now disappeared, a large number of them without trace. However, those forms which have a higher level of sophistication are still in existence today, although on an increasingly limited scale as the opportunity for ritual ceremony decreases. In some cases these forms have changed their function and become independent forms of entertainment. These folk arts are of great interest from a performing arts perspective.

The appearance of television in the villages now means that the village community can observe what is happening in the cities, and even in Hollywood or Las Vegas. The effect has been that the village community has a strong desire to copy the behavior of the community in the cities, including their artistic behavior. Despite the great differences in medium and environment, the village communities are beginning to turn away from their own art forms, and adopt those of the cities.

This inclination to desert their own art forms has also been encouraged by a large number of regional government officials who do not have sufficient understanding of just how important the folk performing arts are, viewed from their cultural wealth. In Java, for example, if we talk about art, many government officials would say that the good performing arts originate from either Solo (Surakarta)or Yogya (Yogyakarta). They do not realize that their comments can impoverish the vast number of other art forms belonging to the Indonesian nation.

Although this seems to be the fate of the folk arts in Indonesia, there are still a number of folk forms which have survived. It is these forms to which we turned our attention first, so that they may have the chance of continued survival.

Legislation in this field

Undang-Undang Dasar 1945 (Constitution 1945)
To protect, promote and innovate.
People may develop them by using foreign cultural devices, as long as they do not damage the roots of Indonesia culture.

Category/types of performing arts

- Court performing arts
These still exist in cities where there were courts or palaces.

- Folk performing arts
Including: inland and coastal areas

- Religious performing arts
Including: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Animism (Shamanism etc.)


Directorate for the Arts, Jakarta
Daftar Dokumentasi Seni Pertunjukan Indonesia [List of Documentation of Indonesia Performing Arts].
Directorate for the Arts, Jakarta.
(More than 1000 entries)
(Format: print, photographe, or recorded auditively and visually)

Art Higher Education Institutions, all over Indonesia
Daftar Dokumentasi Seni Pertunjukan Indonesia [List of Documentation of Indonesia Performing Arts].
Art Higher Education Institutions, all over Indonesia.
(More than 500 entries)
(Format: print, photographe, or recorded auditively and visually in each institution.)

Taman Budaya, all over Indonesia
Daftar Dokumentasi Seni Pertunjukan Indonesia [List of Documentation of Indonesia Performing Arts].
Taman Budaya, all over Indonesia.
(More than 250 entries)
(Format: printed, photographed, or recorded auditively and visually in each institution.)

Audio・visual documentation collection

-Directorate for the Arts, Jakarta
-Art Higher Education Institutions, all over Indonesia
- Taman Budaya, all over Indonesia
Form of documentation: photograph, slide, audio cassette, video cassette, audio mini disks

Aspects of traditional/folk performing arts in education

-There are seven Art Higher Education Institutions (5 state and 2 private).
-There are eight Art High School level Institutions (6 state and one local government).
-From primary school to high school there are performing arts lessons but the time is very limited.

Data provider

Dr. Sri Hastanto
Director for the Arts
Directorate for the Arts, Directorate General for Culture
Department of National Education
Address: Komplek P dan K Gedung E Lantai-9
Jalan Jenderal Sudirman, Senayan, Jakarta, Indonesia