Denpasar. Indonesia must make the most of a key opportunity to showcase its cultural wealth on the global stage when it hosts the inaugural World Culture for Development Forum in Bali next year, a senior official said on Saturday.
Wiendu Nuryanti, the deputy for cultural affairs at the Education and Culture Ministry, said the country needed to stop taking a low profile on such matters and be more proactive about promoting its plethora of culture and arts.
“If we want there to be changes and improvements [in how Indonesian culture is viewed], then Indonesia must be more active and less reticent on the world stage,” she said at a discussion at the Rudana Museum in Ubud.
“We want to show, through the forum [WCF] next year, that Indonesia has much to contribute to the rest of the world in terms of culture.”
The WCF, to be held on an annual basis in Bali, will take place on the resort island from Nov. 24-29 in 2013.
Heads of state and senior government officials from 40 countries are expected to attend, while proposed keynote speakers include Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, French President Francois Hollande and former Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.
On its website, the WCF bills itself as a forum to “examine the strategic role of culture in creating and strengthening the relationship among countries, to learn to appreciate cultural differences, and to develop policies that allow national and local cultures to flourish in an age of unprecedented globalization.”
Nuryanti said that the forum, sanctioned by Unesco, would complement the annual summit of the heads of state of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, which will also be held that month in Bali.
She added she hoped that the annual WCF would brand Indonesia as a global center of culture, much the same way that Rio de Janeiro has become synonymous with environmental conservation following the Rio Earth Summit of 1992 and the follow-up UN climate change conference, dubbed Rio+20, which was held there earlier this year.
Nuryanti said Indonesia also hoped to use the forum to address the frequent disputes arising with Malaysia over conflicting claims to cultural heritage.
Tensions in Indonesia were most recently stoked by the Malaysian government’s move to legally recognize the Tor-Tor dance, first brought to Malaysia by migrants from northern Sumatra.
Protests in Jakarta and around the country were fueled by the mistaken notion that the move amounted to Malaysia claiming the dance as its own, although officials from both countries were quick to point out that this was not the intention.