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Amid buzz in Indonesia’s art scene, emerging creatives call for more support, opportunities

But while connoisseurs’ interest in the works of Indonesia’s most famous artists remains high, the country’s emerging creatives say their opportunities are limited due to a lack of domestic patrons and uneven support from the government.

But many in the creative sector are working to change that.

“In the past few decades, the Indonesian art scene has gravitated towards parts of the country with conducive ecosystems like Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Bali, but this may be changing,” said Sidoarjo-based artist and activist Syska Liana, better known as Syska La Veggie by her art peers.

Indonesia’s retail art market was estimated to be worth 4 trillion rupiah (US$280 million) in 2019, according to Statista, a figure that was estimated to rise as the number of domestic buyers increased.

Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, is one of the places that the creative community is hoping is ripe for an art renaissance that can capitalise on that growing demand.

But she insisted Surabaya and East Java “have what it takes to carve out an important art scene”, provided the conditions “are just right”.

She then reeled off a host of names including Madura-based Suvi Wahyudianto, who won the prestigious UOB Southeast Asian Painting of the Year award in 2018, as “living proof” that the city can nurture contemporary artists of international stature. But she said it would take financial support to make that happen.

“What we need is for more corporate entities and wealthy patrons to do their philanthropy for the local art scene and artists, so that they have the means to create.”

Jakarta’s Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Macan) is a potent reminder of the power of art philanthropy in Indonesia. Funded by Indonesian businessman and art