Friday, July 04, 2008

Govt looks to creative industries as source of competitiveness

Source: Jakarta Post
Thu, 04/10/2008 11:25 PM | Headlines

The government is now drafting a roadmap to help develop creative industries in the country that cover 14 sectors, including musics, art, craft, design, fashion, film and software. To get a better a picture of the government's plan for these industries, The Jakarta Post's Riyadi Suparno and Novia D. Rulistia interviewed Trade Minister Mari Pangestu, the leading figure behind the government's initiative to develop the creative industries.

Why has the government suddenly moved to help creative industries?

First of all, it's not suddenly. The President has always emphasized how important Indonesia's creativity is, and we started out in the context of handicrafts. Then we held exhibitions, and tried to make exhibitions more attractive, and included more sectors which, in the end, we realized were the components of the creative economy, such as film and animation.

Indonesia has a lot to offer in terms of creativity. For example, we began to see a lot of things happening in the film industry, and also in the music industry in the last two years.

We've been trying to get creative people, and you see what they're doing, and we try to help bring a theme here: "local in value but contemporary in spirit".

Take batik, for example. With the usual batik clothing, it's not really exciting to wear it. As soon as young designers enter the picture, though, you see now many of them are wearing batik in many styles with affordable prices. So this is what I mean; Indonesia is very creative.

We have identified three potential services exports. The first group is IT-based, like media and game animation. The second is design, architecture and engineering. Third is professional skilled labor.

But we must start with the domestic market so we are competitive, and we have a big domestic market. When we are competitive in the domestic market, then we can start exporting.

Can you explain the roadmap the government is currently drafting?

We have four parts in it. The first part is the study of the creative economy, in which we try to take a picture of the 14 sectors.

The second and third parts deal with blueprints to develop the creative economy, and creating specific blueprints for each of the 14 sectors. And the fourth part mandates that each department (ministry) should come up with its own action plan to implement the roadmap.

The ministry of trade's task is to coordinate the process, and we hope it will be ready by the end of the year. But for the implementation it will take longer. The first phase is 2008-2016 and the second is 2016-2025. We call the first phase "Strengthening the foundation and pillars of the creative economy".

We also try to develop creative human capital for every industry. We need creative communities. But it's not just the government that should do it, but also with the private sector and stakeholders and academics, as they are the pillars.

Where is the government's help needed most?

The focus in all our discussion groups is intellectual property rights, the protection of their ideas, their innovations. It always comes up in every discussion.

The other one is competition between each other or between them and foreign products. But that's actually where the theme of "local in value but contemporary in spirit" becomes very important.

They may apprehend competition from foreign players as they have technology, resources, financing and stronger positions. If that's the issue, the role of the government will be to facilitate, to strengthen the government-private partnership to strengthen the areas that make them less competitive with foreign competitors.

In terms of ideas and creativity, probably we are much stronger, but the issue is how we make sure we can nurture it so they can have technology and resources and not be too dependent.

Some of these creative industries are growing fast simply because there is no intervention from the government. How would you make sure the government's entrance into creative industry would not be counterproductive?

The government's role is to facilitate, not try to hinder the development of the growing sectors. We try to understand what they need to grow better.

We have a lot of creative communities. They are geographically concentrated at the moment in Yogyakarta, Bali and Bandung; these are the three centers.

They have creative communities, and they don't want government intervention. They're very allergic. "What is the government doing? We are quite happy without the government's interference."

We're not trying to interfere; we're trying to facilitate. For my ministry, my role to facilitate is to give them accessibility to the market so they have the demand to grow their business and to help them promote it.

Do you have any example of a government's helpful intervention in creative industries?

In Korea, for example, they promoted their film industry. Ten years ago or so, before Korean soap operas and films took off, the government created a capital fund to help young filmmakers. They also have a quota for cinema of both local and foreign films.

What sectors would you develop the most?

Handicrafts for sure; it's already big. Fashion, IT-based, animation and musical instruments. But we should go beyond that. Don't look at it by sectors; having creative human capital in our country is already the source of our competitiveness.

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