By Tim UK/Indonesia 2016-18

19 January 2018 - 14:50

Inclusive dance workshop at the Jakarta Unlimited: Sama Bisa, Bisa Sama, UK/ID Festival 2017. ©

British Council

With an eye ahead to the Asian Para Games 2018 that will be held in Jakarta, British Council organized a round table discussion in September 2017 about the role of arts, creativity, and sports in creating social inclusion for disabled people. The participants included arts organizations, disabled artists from Indonesia, UK, France, Australia, disability NGOs, representatives from Ministry of Youth & Sport and also Ministry of Education & Culture.

The aim was to raise awareness of the opportunity presented by the Asian Para Games 2018 and the potential for positive change through arts and sports – and to start exchanging initial ideas for programmes around the Asian Para Games 2018.

Here are our top 5 takeaways:

Create a space where disabled and non-disabled people can interact

There isn’t one technique to work inclusively; there are many ways to work together. Mirjam Gurtner from Candoco Dance Company (UK) explained: “Create a space where we can meet; search and find out together the challenge, then give our best effort to maximize our abilities.” By doing so, Gurtner hopes that people would shift their gaze, from pity to appreciation of artistic excellence, creating an equal opportunity to be seen on stage.

Adrian Yunan performed at the Jakarta Unlimited: Sama Bisa, Bisa Sama, UK/ID Festival 2017. ©

British Council

The transformative power of art, sports, and culture to change society

Adam Pushkin, Director of Arts for British Council Indonesia, stated that perceptions on disabled people in the UK have significantly improved, even though it’s not yet perfect. Arts, sports, and creativity play a big role in changing the perspectives of individuals, the stories people tell each other, and eventually the whole society.

Indonesia's new disability law: active involvement of disabled people in all activities

With Indonesia's new disability law, it is expected that at least one percent of the members of every organization should be disabled people. Annisa Rahmania, a disabled dancer and activist who visited the Unlimited Festival in London, said that the implementation of the law itself should involve disabled people. She explained, “It is to ensure equality. In UK, people with disabilities can blend in with the community and they don’t look different. But that’s not how it is in Indonesia, they are still working individually. What we learned from UK is that how disabled and non-disabled people blend, this is equality. Lack of access is one of the problems faced by disabled people. We hope that we will be involved and provided with adequate access in the future.”

Media tends to exploit sympathy rather than portraying capacity

Fakhry Muhammad Rosa from IT Centre for the Blind stated that the media plays a major role in the lack of appreciation on disability arts. “It seems like the media tends to exploit disabled persons through their disability instead of highlighting their capacity. For Asian Para Games 2018 and beyond, the media needs to learn how to communicate to give different perspectives, unlike what tends to happen so far,” he said boldly.

Disability arts are still uneven in most cities in Indonesia

Slamet Thohari, Head of the Center for Disability Studies and Services at the Brawijaya University in Malang, did a brief presentation about the mapping of disability arts in Indonesia. The conditions are still uneven: disabled artists in Solo create art mostly to occupy their spare time; Makassar has yet to see the importance of appreciating disability arts; Jakarta has a lot of disabled artist but not yet a stong network. The full report of the mapping research of arts and disabilities in Indonesia can be accessed here.