Chronology of Saung Angklung Udjo Threatened to Be Closed by the Owner

Chronology of Saung Angklung Udjo Threatened to Be Closed by the Owner - Main Director of PT Saung Angklung Udjo (SAU), Taufik Hidayat Udjo confirmed the news of the opportunity to close a culture-based tourist attraction in the city of Bandung, West Java. He also described the chronology of the situation they experienced.

"Not in a month, in fact this month (threatened to close). I've even told the employees 'what if there's no salary this month?' They just kept quiet and didn't answer, but even so they kept working too," said Taufik.

Taufik explained, the planned closure was due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The corona virus pandemic that spread in Indonesia in March 2020 had an impact on a significant decrease in visitors.

Like other cities in Indonesia, the City of Bandung has implemented a Large-Scale Social Restrictions (PSBB) policy related to the pandemic situation. One of the restrictions on these activities is in the form of prohibiting foreign tourists from coming and students at schools only do online learning.

"Actually, from March 15, we have been completely closed for up to 14 days. We assumed 'okay for a moment (two weeks)', so we are completely closed," said Taufik.

In fact, the PSBB was extended to many volumes. Meanwhile, PT SAU still has to pay the salaries of nearly a thousand of its employees.

"Initially the salary was normal (normal), it was reduced and until now we couldn't do anything. [We] have to do with offline (face-to-face) activities," said Taufik.

Taufik is well aware that government regulations must be obeyed. However, as an entrepreneur engaged in the tourism sector, over time the condition worsened which resulted in being forced to lay off employees.

SAU has nearly a thousand employees. They consist of 400 musicians, 200 workers in the production section, and the rest are craftsmen. Taufik said there were more than 600 people who worked directly at SAU every day, when added with suppliers and event workers, the number jumped to around 1,000.

Most of the SAU workers are currently laid off, the rest have chosen to resign and only a few are surviving on less than half of their original salary. The salary cut was made in April last year.

"What we are still maintaining are the place keepers, the greeters, and those who are still active in the studio. About 20 percent are still surviving," said Taufik.

Not only have the performances stopped due to the impact of the pandemic, the production of angklung, wedding events, souvenir production, and performances abroad have almost stopped.

Taufik said that usually up to 2,000 people could come per day. Now, with pandemic conditions, even reaching 20 guests is admittedly difficult. When they only open on weekends, guests don't even come.

More than 90 percent of visitors who come to Saung Angklung Udjo are school children and foreign tourists. The performances themselves are group in nature with hundreds of people in mass, something that was definitely banned during the pandemic.

"There are regulations and people's concerns about the news that Bandung has entered the red zone and so on," said Taufik.

“Now everything is 90 percent more complete stop. Okay, there's virtual, it's just that we can't do anything with our nearly 1,000 members," he continued.

In addition to salary costs, Taufik admits that expenses that must be covered are a burden. Starting from paying asset installments, BPJS, electricity, and taxes.

Taufik also hopes that the government can help provide a solution. This is because he believes that SAU is not only a matter of tourism but also part of maintaining West Java's arts and culture.

“I have had difficulties since last December. I have tried to contact the center and the regions, please give them time for a hearing, but there has been no response," said Taufik.

"If I'm just talking about the owner of Saung Angklung Udjo, I will stop, I will sell it and then it will become an apartment or is it finished. It means I have money from what I sell,” he continued.

"But what about the nearly 1,000 employees? There are those who, after three years of working in saung, are now in their 20s and now have to leave, even though Saung Angklung has become his soul because he is educated and even more established. There are so many stops,” said Taufik.

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