Thursday, February 19, 2009

HERITAGE AND JOURNALISTS

Journalists are important partners for heritage activists. Journalists and their media play an important role in setting an agenda in local and national issues. Lately, the Trowulan case appeared to the surface -more or less- was also part of the media's work. When I was in Medan, I had relatively friendly relationships with some journalists. Some of them were genuine in their interest and support for heritage conservation. They wrote issues based on facts and interviews, did their best to do their part in our efforts to save the city's identity. Some of them looked merely for publicity without bothering reading press releases or backed-up information. The result was poor articles with inadequate judgements. I felt sorry and pity for the last type of journalists. But I guess in any professions there is always someone who doesn't try good enough to be professional.

Since I moved to Holland, I learned to know a journalist of Warta Kota, DM, who then studied in University of Maastricht. She studied city marketing. After she finished her study, she went back to Jakarta and keeps writing on heritage topic. I have found out that she is behind the section "Wisata Kota Toea" (Old City Tour) in the largest national newspaper in Indonesia, Kompas. The Old City Tour section is more like a separate website attached to the electronic version of Kompas. It contains a lot of information about the past, present and hopes for the future of the old part of Jakarta. I was so happy to find this initiative since I often received and encountered with the issues of Jakarta Kota here in Holland. Through this website at least I have current reference of what is going on there. Also to be a lit bit more optimistic that probably through a website will leads to the improvement of the Jakarta Kota, that all information is gathered in one source instead of scaterred from all directions and end up unnoticeable. I would like to wish my friend, DM, a goodluck and hopefully the website will not only stay long but also up-to-date. Check it out yourself : http://www.kompas.com/wisata

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

CREATIVE ECONOMY

Club of Amsterdam Journal on their February edition presented an interesting topic for me : creative economy. The latest research about this topic was conducted by no less than five UN bodies : UNCTAD, UNDP UNESCO, WIPO and the International Trade Centre (ITC). It must be very important. The Club itself is an independent, international think-tank that organizes regular high-level discussions on preferred futures.

Definitions of the "creative economy" may vary, but it is generally agreed that at the heart of the creative economy lie the creative industries. There is no single agreed definition of the "creative economy" or the "creative industries" although clearly, they embrace the concept of "creativity" as an essential characteristic. The following groups of industries are included:

cultural heritage;
visual and performing arts;
audiovisual industries;
publishing and printed media;
new media;
design; and
creative services, including advertising and architecture.

Now you know it is interesting for me, since cultural heritage is part of it.
For Indonesia, the perspective of creative economy offers an interesting alternative. Developing countries around the world can find ways to optimize the potential of the creative economy for generating economic growth, job creation and export earnings while at the same time promoting social inclusion, cultural diversity and human development.

The creative economy is a multidimensional concept with linkages to a number of different sectors in the overall economy. Thus policy-making in relation to the creative economy is not confined to a single ministry or government department; rather, it is likely to implicate a number of different policy fields, including:

economic development and regional growth;
urban planning;
international trade;
labour and industrial relations;
immigration;
domestic and foreign investment;
technology and communications;
art and culture;
tourism;
social welfare; and
education.

Moreover, there is a similar multiplicity of involvement across the public sector, the corporate sector, the non-profit sector and civil society.

But what are the challenges of the creative economy, especially in developing countries? Reliable data on the creative economy – on its inputs, outputs, value of production, prices, employment and trade – are in short supply. The lack of a tradition for economic valuation and measurement in the cultural sphere, combined with difficulties of definition in the realm of cultural activities and creative goods and services, has meant that there has been a dearth of reliable indicators on which to base assessments of the size and scope of the creative economy. Thus at present, we have only a limited set of measures of creative-industry output, employment and trade.

Other aspect that needs to be addressed is policy making. The cross-cutting nature of the creative economy means that policy development for the creative industries must be formulated on a coordinated interministerial basis. In more specific terms, policy initiatives may be undertaken in:
  • mapping of inventories of cultural assets and creative industries;

  • SME business development and finance (e.g., micro-finance);

  • copyright legislation and enforcement;

  • support for artists and the arts, both direct (via fiscal means) and indirect (through encouragement of private sector support);

  • conservation of tangible and intangible cultural heritage;

  • expansion of digital capacity and know-how;

  • market development, both domestic and export;
  • tourism promotion;

  • education, training and skills development; and

  • industry assistance (e.g., via investment incentives, tax concessions, etc.).

As a result, policy development cannot be confined to a single ministry but requires co-ordinated action across a range of ministerial responsibilities, and although mainly urban in location, it is important in rural areas, too. The appropriate development paradigm is one based on sustainable development measured in economic, cultural, social and environmental terms. Only by adopting such a paradigm shift can we recognize the breadth and depth ofthe potential contribution of the creative industries to developing countries.


(Resource : Club of Amsterdam Journal, February 09 Issue 113)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

PRESERVATION OF THE IT HISTORY

I have learned about preservation efforts of the information technology yesterday during a conference "Nu voor Later!" (Now for Later!) in the Reinwardt Academy, Amsterdam, organized by Erfgoed Nederland.

I have listened to a presentation about the Swedish IT-history: a Cooperation between Museum, University and Society by Peter Du Rietz, National Museum of Science and Technology (Tekniska museet) from Sweden. The project is in many ways unique and to a large extent focusing on the use of computers in different sectors of society in the last 60 years.

And the second presentation was delivered by Doron D Swade, an engineer, historian, a museum professional, and a leading authority on the life and work of computer pioneer Charles Babbage. Swade masterminded the construction of the first Babbage calculating engine built to original 19th-centurydesigns and, in 1989, founded the Computer Conservation Society, a Specialist Group of the British Computer Society. The Society is devoted to the preservation and restoration to working order of historic computing machines, and pioneered the techniques and protocols of computer restoration that stimulated the major reconstructions in the modern era. I enjoyed his presentation very much since he could translated his complicated work into an understable stories for his audience. One of his interesting statement for me is that all efforts to preserve the IT history is part of social capital of the community. These efforts give sense of pride of achievements, perseverence and loyality of the reseachers in technology. Here is the picture of Doron Swade operating Babbage's Difference Engine No 2.



This conference was not only enlighting but also entertaining. The master ceremony was a radio presentator so he knew how to speak to public. Between the speakers there was an intermezzo which was funny and smart, like a video clip about different kind of tea jar collections. It was unbelievable to see how absurd a tea jar design could be. Lunch pause was done on boats along canals of Amsterdam while getting to know other participants and then we stopped at Nemo, a scientific museum. Here we attended an opening of an exhibition about history of computer in the Netherlands.

For me organization of a conference is as important as the content of the conference itself. And I always appreciated if a conference can be started on time, entartaining and at the same time maintaining the quality of the conference. Only then a conference is refreshing for soul and mind.

(Picture credit: Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

FRIENDS OF AMSTERDAM CITY CENTRE

When I arrived in Holland in 2005 I looked for local heritage organizations. I found many but I have chosen to be a member of an organization where I live, De Vereniging Vrienden van de Amsterdamse Binnenstad or Foundation of Friends of Amsterdam City Centre. It is a non-profit organization which was established in 1975 and run by volunteers. Sounds familiar to me. My obligation is only paying an annual fee which is affordable, euro 20, it is minimum and extra amount is always welcome, and I get newsletters regularly.

After few years become a member, I noticed how much the organization has done and to consider that it is run by volunteers, the achievements and methods of work are worth learning for me. They have regular programs for members (about 2400 of them), acting as a watchdog for municipality's policies and many more actions as far as I could observe from their newsletters. Lately they supported the application of Amsterdam Municipality to UNESCO as a world heritage city. If it is approved, in 2010 Amsterdam will be on the list.

I was thinking to be more active but so far I have enough things to do on my plate. It is on my things-to-do list. I really have to learn how to run an organization without subsidies in this country; something which is I am familiar in Indonesia and I know how to do it, but in Holland I have zero experience.

WESTERGASFABRIEK



Last Sunday I went to a special cinema, Het Ketel Huis in a complex called Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam West. For a long time I paid attention to this industrial heritage because of its project scale which took a long process and periods to accomplish it. It happened I listened to the story of the project leader last year who told stories how complicated the whole process was but they made it at the end.

The Westergasfabriek was constructed in 1883 by the British Imperial Continental Gas Association. At the time it was the largest gas works in Amsterdam. During the first decades the gas was used principally for public lighting. Most of the Westergasfabriek buildings were designed by Isaac Gosschalk, in a variation on the 'Dutch Renaissance' style. The Gashouder was designed by engineer Klönne.

After the discovery of natural gas in the 1960's at Slochteren, in the north of the country, gas production was terminated. Part of the buildings were demolished, amongst which the beautiful water tower. Until the early 1990s the municipal energy company used the premises for storage and repairs and as a garage for utility vehicles. In 1989 the remaining buildings were officially recognised as industrial monuments and saved from demolition.

After the municipal energy company had abandoned the premises in 1990, they were used temporarily for creative and cultural activities, an approach that proved very successful. An inspiring mix emerged of art and daily life, of permanent and temporary rental for all sorts of events, such as festivals, commercials, fashion shows, opera and circus performances.

As a result the Westergasfabriek became known as a cultural epicentre in Amsterdam and far beyond Dutch borders. This temporary definition of the use of buildings and of the conceptions of park, culture and activity were the basis for drawing up the development project for the Westergasfabriek in 1996. In the year 2003, the park was opened. After that, one by one, the buildings are being renovated and put back in use.

For more fascinating stories about the process of redevelopment see this link.




(resources : www.westergasfabriek.nl)