Indonesian Agency Tries to Flex Soft Power Through Art

Indonesia is rich in commodities such as oil, gas, gold and tin, but a handful of government officials think its most powerful resources are cultural.  They belong to a dynamic young body called the Creative Economy Agency, or BEKRAF (an acronym derived from its Indonesian name) that was created in 2015 by President Joko Widodo to promote Indonesia’s cultural output both at home and abroad. “Oil and gas are finite resources. The only thing that lasts forever is creativity,” said Boni Pudjianto, BEKRAF’s director for international markets.  BEKRAF’s staff was appointed meritocratically through an open call to government officers, regardless of background. Boni, for instance, has a doctorate in engineering and was posted at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology before he joined BEKRAF.  “It’s an experimental agency,” he said. “It’s a new model for a governmental body.”  BEKRAF wants to promote the arts of the world’s fourth largest...


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