Bali Arts Festival ends

Ni Komang Erviani
Bali Daily / Denpasar

The 35th Bali Arts Festival features the richness of Balinese culture (Ni Komang Erviani)

Thousands of people visited the Bali Arts Center on Jl. Nusa Indah in Denpasar on Saturday evening, enthusiastically gathering to enjoy the last day of the one month fiesta.

Traffic congestion surrounding the site of the Bali Arts Festival was heavy.

The closing ceremony was held on the Ardha Candra open stage and was jazzed up with a colossal dance drama entitled Sakuni Raja Winaya, which attracted thousands of people to keep watching until the very end of the performance. The dance drama, taken from the Mahabharata epic, was performed by students from SMK 3 Sukawati, a vocational senior high school in Gianyar.

Finally, the sound of a kulkul (wooden drum) beaten by Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika marked the end of the 35th Bali Arts Festival.

“The Bali Arts Festival has been an effective communication tool among artists and has already become a strong platform and guardian for Balinese culture,” Pastika said during the closing ceremony.

Since being officially opened on June 15 by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, more than 30,000 local and international artists have performed during the island’s largest art fiesta. A street cultural parade displayed the richness of Balinese culture on the first day.

More than 300 traditional and modern art performances have been performed with shows taking place every day at several venues within the arts center.

Among the performances were rare and dying arts reconstructed by the island’s experts, as well as collaborations between Balinese and foreign artists. Performances were also presented from outside Bali, including by artists from Bandung, Yogyakarta, Lampung, the US, India and Timor Leste.

The festival also featured exhibitions, discussions, culinary delicacies and competitions.

This year, the festival’s theme was “Taksu: evoking the power of creativity and identity”. Taksu means inner power and charisma, two qualities that Balinese artists try to embody through years of dedication and discipline.

Pastika said that the festival provided a space for appreciation of cultural diversity. “It is a mirror of our cultural heritage, with its strong life philosophy.”

Pastika admitted that modernization was significantly impacting on Balinese arts. “Many of our traditional arts are endangered because they are so rarely performed. We have to continue with the reconstruction program and revitalize endangered arts,” he said.

From an organizational aspect, this year’s festival continued to face the same problems as in previous years, including inadequate facilities, an overcrowded trade exhibition, and illegal roadside parking due to the lack of parking lots causing traffic congestion around the venue.

“Overall, I appreciate that the festival has run smoothly. However, of course, a comprehensive evaluation is needed to make the next festival better,” Pastika said.

Separately, Udayana University academic I Nyoman Darma Putra said that the Bali Arts Festival had featured high quality arts performances from the island’s best artists. “Unfortunately, not many of the younger Balinese generation understand the quality of traditional arts, which is why the festival is sometimes called monotonous and boring. This modern generation is less interested in traditional arts,” Dharma Putra said.

The high artistic quality of performances during the festival was also acknowledged by an ethnomusicologist from City University of New York in the US, Edward Herbst. “I was really amazed by several performances I enjoyed during the Bali Arts Festival, especially the musical performances. They were very good,” he shared with Bali Daily recently. Herbst spent several days at the festival

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