Country focus |

IFI to Reopen with Optimism

Country Focus | 28 July 2020
After closing due to the pandemic, IFI is looking forward to welcoming visitors with a varied range of exciting events, increased sanitation and other social distancing measures in place. NOW! Jakarta spoke to Cultural Attaché of the French Embassy for Indonesia, Abdramane Kamaté, and discussed the closure.

What are your thoughts on the regulation regarding Jakarta’s transitional period to lift the large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) starting from 4 June?

This is good news! Given that all activity sectors—especially the economic and cultural fields—have suffered from PSBB, these restrictions were absolutely necessary in this context of pandemic. Now we will be able to enjoy public facilities again, but we must respect the rules of social distancing in order not to exacerbate the health situation.

Are you looking forward to welcoming visitors? If yes, what will a reopening post Covid-19 look like for IFI? How do you strategically plan and develop protocols within the institution and public in response to embracing the new normal and (safe) reopening in the new normal? Any plans or concerns?

Absolutely! We are looking forward to it! When IFI reopens, we will carefully follow the instructions given by the Indonesian authorities regarding all cultural institutions. In order to protect our visitors’ health, not only will we provide hand sanitizers in large quantities, but also make sure that social distancing is observed and practiced in all our facilities, especially in the class rooms, auditorium and media library. All of this would nevertheless make no sense if we allow a sick person to enter IFI. Visitors are required to wash their hands and have their temperature checked at the entrance. We want them to feel safe when they come.

How has this ‘transitional’ period changed the way IFI attracts tourists, students and art enthusiasts? What has the institution been doing to help people stay educated and intellectually active in the face of Covid-19?

Despite the closing of IFI, our teams stay very active. Indeed, it is absolutely necessary for us to stay in touch with our audiences, partners, artists and most of all, our students. We didn’t want them to feel abandoned, and we decided to organise virtual events. The results of this transition are very satisfying.

For instance, people can take French courses online, meaning that we can reach out not only students in the cities of our network but also all over the country. Most of the new students live far from the French institute, and the distance-learning French courses are pretty much helpful for them.

Our media library staff also hosts various events online. In fact, there are now more activities than before the Covid-19 period, and those activities gather more participants.

We also give free online access to our online library Culturethèque where people can have access to more than 100,000 resources of books, movies, games, etc.

Online discussions—webinars—were held during the pandemic situation in different cultural spheres. We will be holding them up as long as we can’t have normal events in public. As of now, we have already held three debates about cinema, music and design featuring professional speakers both from France and Indonesia, as well as the audiences. The discussions were focused on their industries in their countries and how the Covid-19 has impacted to them all. Also, we are now preparing other webinars about the video games and fashion industries.

Every year on 21 June, in France and many other countries of the world, we celebrate La Fête de la Musique. This year, as we couldn’t organise concerts in venues, we decided to post live concert in our social media. There were five Indonesian bands together with a French one playing in their respective studios. We therefore promoted young emerging bands on an international scale, like in France and Thailand.

We also built an important partnership between Indonesian radio channel, DeMajors, and French radio channel, Nova, covering programmes to Indonesian music.

Any future initiatives you are excited to share with us? Is there any limit access to an agreed-upon number of visitors or students at any given time? Any scenarios regarding education, arts and cultural programmes, outreach, workshops and special events?

We are intensively working on important projects we know the public enjoys. This will be taking place when the health situation has improved and the reopening is complete.

One of our major projects is Novembre Numérique. Covering digital arts, we will partner along with six notorious Indonesian museums. We hope to attract thousands of visitors with this very interesting project.

We are also preparing the Festival Sinema Prancis (FSP) in November as well. Two options are being considered. In case we cannot host this event in cinema venues because of the health situation, we will have an online edition.

On a personal level, do you have any messages you would like to address regarding the ‘transitional’ period and new normal?

Health is a very precious but delicate asset; thus we must respect the instructions given by the authorities in order to protect our loved ones and not get sick. The transition period is not the end of the pandemic, and we have to stay cautious.