Three Eras of Indonesian Arts Diplomacy

Matthew Cohen

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Sukarno took a personal interest in using the arts for presenting Indonesia in a positive light. He oversaw cultural missions abroad and produced ‘cultural events’ that showed off his grace and charisma on the dance floor to overseas guests. While Soeharto showed little interest in the arts, new modes of arts diplomacy flourished during the New Order—scholarships for foreigners to study arts, artists in residence at Indonesian embassies, large-scale festivals aiming to facilitate artistic exchange and encourage foreign investments. In Indonesia today, arts diplomacy is represented by its own sub-directorate in the Ministry of Education and Culture. Indonesia is promoting itself through collaborations between Indonesian governmental agencies and professional international producing bodies, galleries and festivals. Cultural Houses are being built in key cities abroad, along with a nation-wide platform for international festivals, Indonesiana. ‘Indonesianists,’ including foreign academics and students of the arts, are being recruited to promote Indonesia abroad.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-283
Number of pages31
JournalBijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde
Issue number2-3
Early online date12 Jul 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Jul 2019


  • : arts diplomacy; cultural diplomacy; soft power; Indonesia; Mochtar Kusumaatmadja; Sukarno

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