Text by Ibrahim Soetomo
The Makassar-based creative hub SIKU Ruang Terpadu has published ‘Creative Hub Leading Toolkit’, a toolkit inspired and adapted from the British Council’s Creative Hub Leader’s Toolkit. As part of the Creative Hub Leader’s Toolkit Hack programme, this kit comprises topics such as hub identification, reflection and evaluation, action and planning, and sustainability.
SIKU, as we may call it, is an alternative space for contemporary art and cultural activities established in 2019. SIKU is a space for exhibitions, workshops, discussions, artist residencies, classes, and simply hanging out, drinking coffee, and making new friends. It is organized by five diverse collectives: Bonfire Creative Complex, Nara Inkubator, Ritus Street Art, Swara Slebor, and Masiopsi Group.
Adin Amiruddin, one of the SIKU coordinators and part of Ritus Street Art, saw the toolkit hack open call from Art Calls Indonesia, an Instagram-based media that promotes art and cultural events across Indonesia. Adin, along with SIKU, became interested in applying because of the programme’s vision. We have known a variety of creative hubs in Makassar and Indonesia. One thing that is similar to all of us is that we offer a space to gather. I think the toolkit would be beneficial for SIKU. We could reflect on ourselves and ask, "What are we actually doing?" Why do we need to gather? ’" Adin pondered.
After studying the British Council toolkit format, SIKU thought a ‘hack’ could as well mean an opportunity to play around; how to seek relevant topics and tweak the tools. Realizing this big opportunity, SIKU invited several hubs to act as contributors, namely Habitat Serbaguna (Makassar), Kedai Buku Jenny (Makassar), Parepare Indie (Parepare), Easthetic 3D Printing Studio (Makassar), Kaldi House (Gowa), and Rockfort (Makassar). The first thing SIKU did was to map similarities and differences between them and the invitees. Then, they held an offline meeting for three days at SIKU’s studio to try to answer the original kit, discuss each topic, and reflect.
The regional context of each invitee is also important. SIKU themselves are located in the inner city of Makassar, a quite strategic place in terms of accessibility. By inviting hubs from a farther radius or different neighbourhoods, like Parepare Indie, which is roughly 150 km north of them, SIKU could gain a different view of youth culture, collectivism, and locality. What came after blending personal and collective experiences was the ‘Creative Hub Leading Toolkit’. The kit invites us to identify social and cultural problems in our neighbourhood, check assets, and plan actions.
In hacking the format, SIKU drew inspiration from a Lembar Kerja Siswa (student’s worksheet), a small booklet of assignments common to Indonesian elementary students. ‘Creative Hub Leading Toolkit’ is a mixture of essay and survey forms that guides us to focus on mapping what sources we have. They also considered the use of language. Adin said one of the major challenges during the meeting session is the language barrier. So, they optimized a casual and friendlier Indonesian language to subtle formal terms.
We might notice a difference between the original kit’s title, ‘Creative Hub Leader’s Toolkit’, and the SIKU’s version, which is ‘Creative Hub Leading Toolkit’. SIKU tweaked the title to make it not just for the ‘leader’ of a hub, which to them felt hierarchical. "Based on our experience, we always work together even though there are working units as the structure. This day I handle studio’s electricity, tomorrow it is my turn to host guests," said Adin, "There is no single leader and working together feels more fundamental. Suppose this kit is meant for a leader, I think it could be used within a working unit and not as a whole."
SIKU tried their best to make the hacked toolkit accessible for everyone, no matter their background or their role. This was to suit the dynamic of collectivism as well as ‘tongkrongan’ (hanging out) environment.
Once the final draft was done, Adin sent it to a couple of his colleagues. Similar to his initial reaction when encountering the original kit for the first time, Adin’s colleagues were also surprised that there was actually a ‘guideline’ for running a hub. Currently, they are translating the file into English, still in partnership with the British Council, and planning to print the kit to get the student’s worksheet authenticity.
One interesting fact, this is the first time SIKU worked together as themselves ever since they started three years ago. So, this time SIKU is not a ‘space’. “We as a group who like to hang out and work in the field of art and culture never thought of making a guideline,” Adin said. He also thought once the kit is published, the people who access will automatically ‘hack’ it to suit their own. The kit is first and foremost will be useful for SIKU themselves, as hoped by the British Council through the Creative Hub Leader’s Toolkit Hack programme.