Bali Art Festival Preserve Balinese Making Art Creativity
28 May 2017

Your holiday to Bali will be more special in this month. Apart from enjoying the nature of Bali and interacting with its inhabitants, you can also watch the Bali Arts Festival (BAF) that takes place for a month. This annual event has been performed since 32 years ago.

In the late cultural observer Ida Bagus Mantra initiated BAF when he was the governor of Bali. It aimed at preserving the Balinese arts and culture that is inspired by Hinduism. In addition, BAF constitutes a medium for the young generation to recognize and know more about Balinese arts and culture. As a world tourist destination, BAF activity in Bali is expected to have the capability of being one major tourist attraction. By tourist visits it’s expected that the creativity of Balinese community will flourish in creating various kinds of arts and eventually be able to improve their standard of life.

The time of BAF execution is chosen June-July because it is a long school holiday and high season for foreign tourists. BAF 2010 takes place on 12 June-10 July. The Art Center Denpasar, BAF programs are also dispersed throughout the regencies and cities all over Bali. Hence, wherever you go in Bali you still can watch the BAF.

Strongly Cultural Activity
How can the Balinese be so connected with art creativity? This matter is inseparable from the existence of Balinese predecessors from time immemorial that had instinct to always improve their civilization. Various historical remains that today become tourist objects prove that Balinese arts and culture grows variously in accordance with the demand of Balinese human life that constitutes gratitude on God’s generosity. They also maintain their life harmony with nature and reinforce the menyama braya (brotherhood) relationship in the life of social community. As farmers for instance, in achieving spiritual and bodily balance, they venerate the Goddess Sri as the symbol of fecundity. Or a fisherman that relies on the sea will worship the Lord Varuna, Lord of wind and so forth that can ensure the safety of their life. Similarly, it is also accompanied with recital of mantra that can summon psychic spirit that has been believed to come true.

In the past, the function of arts was more emphasized on the interest of religious ceremonies, either at temples or royal palaces. The art of dancing, playing gamelan and painting for instance, indeed presented to accompany the ritual procession, painting for temple ornaments, royal residences and the house of punggawa (royal official of high rank). Thus, artists can understand the secret of work conception as presentation and work as medium to make them closer to the Almighty God.

Today, the Balinese make art creativity not only intended for the needs of ritual at temple or sanctum but also for tourist entertainment. Dissimilar forms of Balinese arts grow and develop following the dynamic of the tourism industry. Several, art items as mass products are made to cater the needs of tourism. Its price can be inexpensive at art shop or tourist objects provided that you are good at bargaining. Just as the making of a number of creation dances with movement and modern technological touch that are really inappropriate to be presented at temples or sacred place. Sometimes, the paileh (storyline) of the dance and gamelan that is presented at hotels or tourism objects are cut to be adjusted with the short time visits of tourist and hotel party’s can pay the artists cheaply.

Three Functions of Arts
Balinese arts are generally classified into three: (1) wali arts, special sacred arts that are earmarked for ritual purpose and may not be performed at any places like Wayang Lemah, Sidakarya Mask, Sang Hyang Dedari and so on; (2) bebali art, namely arts that are staged atjabapura (outermost courtyard of the temple) in relation to complete the ritual procession and entertain the devotees that carry out the ceremony—the artists are totally ngayah (without honorarium), they are just provided with food and drink; (3) balih-balihan art, namely art that is staged that has not something to do with the ritual and merely intended for entertainment like art performed at hotels, village meeting halls or arenas of Bali Arts Festival. The artists received reasonable honorarium. Prior to the performance, they make an agreement on honorarium with the organizing committee.



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