MULTATULI ARTS FESTIVAL
6–9 September 2018
Edward Douwes Dekker, better known with his pen-name Multatuli, is not a national hero, but a major figure in Indonesia’s independence movement. His famous novel Max Havelaar (1860) which depicted Lebak, Banten in colonial times, is highly regarded by historians as an expose of the corruption and cruelty of the Dutch colonial government in Java. Celebrated author Pramoedya Ananta Toer said that Max Havelaar was the book that killed Dutch colonialism. So important was Multatuli’s work that Pramoedya stated, “The politician that does not know Multatuli, knows nothing about humanism and history.”
To reinvigorate Multatuli’s humanism and historical values, the Multatuli Art Festival will be held in Rangkasbitung, Lebak, Banten in 6–9 September 2018. The festival will include various art and cultural performances and events, such as the Saidjah monologue performance, Saidjah Adinda opera, and traditional music, as well as seminars, book discussions, creative workshops in literature, culinary festival, and Badui fabric exhibition.
The Festival is held by Lebak Regency Government in cooperation with literacy and art communities in Banten. Lebak Regent Iti Octavia Jayabaya said that besides promoting Multatuli as an icon of Lebak, the festival is aimed to introduce the history of Multatuli during his time as Lebak’s assistant resident—which inspired him to write Max Havelaar—as a part of Lebak’s history narrative. The Festival is intended to be an initiative to develop the cultural ecosystem in Lebak Regency with the participation of various sectors, from communities to the Regional Government, as mandated by UU no. 5/2017.
Previously, from 2015 to 2017 the Lebak Regency Government has built the Multatuli Museum in Lebak, in cooperation with the Dutch National Archives and the Multatuli Museum in Amsterdam. The Museum, which is located in the former Kawedanan Rangkasbitung office building, will be one of the six venues for the Multatuli Art Festival. The other venues are: Multatuli’s former house, LPMP Provinsi Banten building, Plasa Lebak, Aula Multatuli Kabupaten Lebak, and GOR Ona Rangkasbitung.