cultural bridge

DENPASAR, Bali (JP): Taman Budaya Bali Arts center in Denpasar, which is usually quiet, has been transformed into an animated and zesty art venue hosting the annual Balinese arts festival starting from June 17 through July 10.

Hundreds of artists are now taking part in series of performances rangingfrom classic pieces including the rare Gambuh dance drama to the more popular artistic creations like Joged Pingitan and Drama Gong.

Cultural observer Degung Santikarma viewed this as a mentally and spiritually soothing event.

People are fed up with political descriptionion and scandalous news and the festival serves as a mind-relaxing activity. In addition to Euro 2000, of course, Degung commented.

Thousands of people flocked to Taman Budaya to watch the parade marking the opening of the festival on June 17. Every night and day, local viewers and foreign tourists are drawn to the festival.

This year’s festival displays around 81 kinds of performing arts presented by Balinese artists throughout the island, 24 art competitions and handicraft exhibition.

People are able to watch a wide range of art performances free of charge. They really enjoy it, poet Putu Arcana said.

He personally believes that the festival should become the arts for the people, as initiated by former Bali governor Ida Bagus Mantra.

In l979, Mantra launched the first Bali Arts Festival as a way to celebrate and increase the awareness and appreciation of Balinese people tothe richness of their own culture.

It was also aimed at regaining cultural pride and dignity.

According to literary scholar Mas Rucitadewi, in the late 1970s, Bali andits culture were flooded by foreign and tourist cultures.

Many Balinese found it difficult to socially and mentally adjust to the new situation forced by the rapid development in tourism industry, explained Rucitadewi.

Despite several changes, the Bali Arts Festival has been successfully functioning as a cultural cohesion among the people for more than 20 years. For their hard work and meticulous efforts, the Bali provincial government should be given a commendation. Not to mention, the artists whohave given their talents to the benefit of the people and culture.

IB Pangdjaja, head of the Bali Cultural Office, asserted that the festival continues thanks to the local artists’ strong commitment and active participation.
We have only a limited budget to hold such a grand festival, Pangdjaja maintained. This year’s festival cost around Rp 600 million.

Most of the artists consider participation in the festival as a way to dedicate themselves to the Almighty, locally called Ngayah. In their artistic performances, Balinese artists rarely think about money and material things but serving God and the community.

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