Our Mission

“To invite our community to an expansive experience in music and art, sparking dialogue about inclusion and cooperation.”

Gamelan music from the island of Java in Indonesia is one of the oldest continuously played musical art forms in the world. It grew out of the bronze age and has remained popular as both a community and royal tradition on the island of Java for the last 1800 years. Gamelan music is a community art that can work only with cooperation, listening, empathy, and learning. It teaches patience, listening skills, and music philosophy, challenging players to change their perspectives on what music can be. In gamelan we create beautiful music together, with each player adding pieces to the whole.  In Buffalo we have created this new community and are watching it flourish.

Nusantara is an old Javanese word that refers to the vast archipelago that is now called Indonesia. We see Buffalo as our own archipelago of different cultures and art.  An archipelago we should not be afraid to navigate and visit! Nusantara Arts recognizes and embraces that diversity. The beautifully different ways of being we have here makes our whole culture stronger

Our Story

Nusantara Arts was born from the growth and success of the Buffalo Gamelan Club, an informal group existing since 2016. Nusantara Arts is the start of something bigger and even more beautiful for a group of people dedicated to the arts of Indonesia. Buffalo Gamelan Club had grown in size and community appreciation with successful shows at Kleinhans, Artpark, and dozens of other places, and with hundreds of students in Buffalo learning this new artform. Facing  increasing numbers of performances and classes, and growing primarily through the use of volunteer time, Buffalo Gamelan Club founder, Matt Dunning began the process of establishing a nonprofit organization in the Spring of 2019. Approved in the Summer of 2019, with a board of engaged community members excited to support its growth, Nusantara Arts is well on it’s way to spreading this beautiful music and culture further in Buffalo and the surrounding areas.

Most gamelan that exist in the United States are sponsored by major universities with large budgets; Nusantara Arts is unique being independent from institutions. Despite this, we have done great things due to the dedication and passion of our members and donors. Many gamelan groups in the US do only one or two performances a year, and rarely outside their permanent home. Nusantara Arts plays 12-17 shows in a year, located at public venues around Buffalo and WNY. Like groups in Java, Nusantara Arts prides itself on being a community organization. We have made our home on Buffalo’s West Side will be moving into the newly-renovated Richmond Ferry Church arts and culture center when finished.

Core Values

Inclusivity: We acknowledge that there is a place in music for people of all races, languages, genders, countries of origin, ages, etc. Music is for everyone, and we grow through working together.

Refinement: We believe in growing as musicians, as individuals, and as a team. We dive into challenges  so that we can progress.

Cooperation: As musicians, we work together to create something incredible, and this work takes patience, communication, hard work, and generosity.

Community: We understand that music is meant to be heard, and we want to share our music broadly by making performances accessible.

Experience: We believe that music is a living thing, connected to culture and people, and that experiencing music is the best way to get to know it.

Preservation: As purveyors of high art we recognize the sources of our inspiration, strive to stay authentic to them, and encourage their global perseverance.