“The best thing about being a woman,” declares Linda Hoemar Abidin, “is being surrounded and inspired by other women – from working with and meeting so many creative, innovative multi-tasking women every day, and being reminded to be thankful to the generations of women before us, including our grandmothers, aunts and mothers.
The Executive Board member of Koalisi Seni Indonesia and Kelola, which is committed to enhancing and promoting the vitality of Indonesian arts through providing access to learning opportunities, funding and information, goes on: “I’m grateful to have grown up surrounded by a cross-cultural circle of family, friends, and mentors. And now I’m working with inspiring and strong women from diverse cultures of all ages in cross sectors advancing a better and more nurturing ecosystem for Indonesia’s arts and culture.
“I’m blessed to have been mentored by numerous female teachers, professors, and arts management leaders. To date, working with other like-minded women, every day I’m learning new things, as well as from the younger generations. When you stay focused, and keep on working and believing in whatever you’re doing, it’s hard to be side-tracked by any negativities.”
Linda was Principal Dancer at the Elisa Monte Dance Company in New York City from 1988 to 1992. “The best part of dedicating my life to the arts has always been learning and gaining new knowledge,” she smiles. “The worst part is that there’s so much work to do! But I think back to what I was taught as a child: Everything in moderation, be kind, and helpful to others. It’s important to be grateful, to think positive and respect others.”
Amna S. Kusumo, Kelola’s founder and former Director, now serving as the Chair of the Board of Trustees and recipient of the prestigious John D. Rockefeller 3rd Award, was an important mentor. “She initiated Kelola’s arts grant programme in 2001,” says Linda.
“After several years, we analysed that less than 25 percent of the proposals Kelola received came from women artists working in music, dance and theatre. In light of that, in 2006 Kelola offered a special grant, Empowering Women Artists, to encourage women to create new works. The result was truly heart warming, as alumni of the programme have gone on to become leading artists recognised internationally.
“Personally, I have always encouraged the younger generation of women working in the arts to attend both national and international forums, to speak, present their innovative ideas. One of my dreams is to create a special fund for women in the arts, in particular those working behind the scenes.”
Discussing women’s issues in 2018, Linda focuses on the practical obstacles to learning opportunities and funding. “Many women working in Indonesia’s arts and culture have been invited to attend both national and international meetings/conferences,” she notes. “But due to the lack of resources, including funding, Indonesian women are under-represented in many of those important meetings.
“A special fund offering travel grants for Indonesian women working in the arts and culture should be created. Some travel grants focus on educational purposes, yet there is a dire need for people working in the arts and culture eld as leaders in their own elds such as directors and managers of Indonesian arts and cultural non-profit organisations, including curators, lecturers and researchers – the arts and cultural practitioners who work behind the scenes.” Who can help, and how?
“World travellers can donate their mileage,” Linda proposes. “Chain hotels’ can offer big discounts for accommodations. Airlines’ can o er reduced fares for tickets for either domestic or international travel – many Indonesian arts and cultural leaders still need to travel from outside of Java or Bali to y overseas. “Often, international forums on arts and culture are conducted within Indonesia, and it is a pity that womenl eaders of Indonesian arts and cultural communities could not attend and benefit from the learning opportunities due to limited resources.”
Linda says that in society, women need to help other women move forward. “It begins in your own work environment. Encourage the practice of accountability, transparency and equal pay. Women in positions of power need to encourage other women to be leaders in their own fields, and to help both men and women understand and see the world through the lens of women.
“The biggest challenge for the next generation of women, our future leaders, is to be respected based on their accomplishments, not based on gender. I hope women will be encouraged to take credit for their hard work, to highlight their achievements and not feel reluctant to promote their accomplishments. Women need to be present at forums, to speak up – to be heard. Men, on the other hand, need to be encouraged to listen, and to recognise and respect the accomplishments of women.”