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In this issue

Why do we need the arts? They’re not essential like food and drink. We won’t get sick orstarve without poetry books or ballet dancers. If all the theatres in the world closed theirdoors tomorrow, life would still go on. At least that’s what the philistines among us would say. But, as Sir Peter Bazalgette, British television executive and former Chair of Arts Council England, put it in a newspaper article a few years ago: “Imagine society without the civilising influence of the arts and you’ll have to strip out what is most pleasurable in life - and much that is educationally vital. Take the collective memory from our museums; lose the empathetic plays and dance from our theatres; expunge our festivals, literaturand painting, and you’re left with a society bereft of a national conversation… about its identity or anything else.” In this issue we do our bit for the national conversation by talking to some of the most interesting people involved in Indonesia’s arts scene. Let’s start with our Cover StoryMaera Panigoro points out that the arts take many forms, including dance performances with a shady reputation. She hopes her production of Srintil: Tembang Duka Seorang Ronggeng will change the way the public regards a great Indonesian tradition.

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