Balai Soedjatmoko is an arts and culture centre in Gramedia Bookshop on Jalan Slamet Riyadi. Officially opened in 2003, it’s situated in an old colonial house that ruler, Pakubuwono X, gave to Saleh Mangoendiningrat, a doctor to the Kraton Kasuhanan.
The Balai was named after Saleh Mangoendiningrat’s oldest son, Soedjatmoko (1922-1989), an intellectual and diplomat. Born in West Sumatra, Soedjatmoko studied medicine in Jakarta, practised with his father in Surakarta, was one of Indonesia’s representatives at the UN in 1947, and became Indonesia’s ambassador to the US in 1968. In 1978 he received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding. The citation acknowledged his strong humanitarian concern and contribution to international thinking on ‘one of the greatest challenges of the time: how to make life more decent and satisfying for the poorest 40 percent in Southeastern and southern Asia’.
Jakob Oetama, co-owner and founder of Kompas Gramedia, bought and restored the historic old house and named it in acknowledgement of the extraordinary life, influence and intellect of Soedjatmoko. Oetama wanted to establish a physical icon for intellectualism which, he says, Gramedia has a mission to foster.
Balai Soedjatmoko is a centre for performances, displays, exhibitions, workshops and gatherings where artists, performers and audiences learn about, appreciate and preserve the local arts. The agenda is published monthly.
Keroncong Bale is held on the third Friday of each month. In earlier years only village or kampung groups were invited to take part, then young musicians were included and now it’s open for other groups. The event is strongly supported by well known keroncongers including Danis Sugiyanto, Max Baihaqi, She Doel Pecas Ndahe and Wartono.