No room for disabled artists at Bali Arts Festival
A number of artists from Rwa Bhineda art troupe have impressively performed Genjek and Bondres shows at the Arts Center as part of the annual Bali Arts Festival.
Their performances were just some of the hundreds presented during the one-month festival, which started on June 10 and will end on July 9.
But these were no ordinary artists; many of the members were blind and physically disabled.
It was quite hard for the disabled artists just to enter the main stage since facilities for the disabled are not available at the arts center. There are not even ramps for people in wheelchairs.
One of the blind artists sang a song entitled “Nasib” (Fate) during the Genjek performance.
Sung in a Balinese acapella style, the song revealed the misfortune of the lives of disabled people.
Another song told the story of a broken-hearted man whose girl turned him down because she found out that he was physically disabled.
Their Bondres and Genjek performances mostly portrayed their hardships and uncertain future.
Help was not around when they performed at the festival, there was not even a chaperon or a master of ceremonies to introduce them to the audience. A number of middle-aged blind artists were unable to get on the stage as the stairs were too high for them. Others hit the big pillars on the stage as they tried to move.
“I did not realize the needs of the disabled artists,” admitted Ketut Mantara Gandi, chairman of the Arts Center’s management body.
He also acknowledged that the management had failed to construct facilities to support both disabled visitors and artists who come to the art center, despite its multi-billion rupiah renovation project.
“Next year, we will pay attention to the needs of disabled artists,” he promised.
Every year, the organizing committee provides a forum for disabled artists to perform at the Arts Festival.
Last year, dozens of disabled artists from Senang Hati Foundation in Gianyar presented a Gong Drama at the festival.
“It was difficult to arouse people’s understanding of our lives. Our fate remains the same,” sang I Ketut Masir and I Wayan Suwirya, the blind Bondres artists.
I Gede Nyoman Sumitha, coordinator of the Sanggar Rwa Bhineda art troupe, however was grateful to be able to present Genjek, Bondres and Gita Santi played by disabled artists.
“We are not discouraged by this situation. The Indonesian government has issued a law that requires any public establishment to provide facilities for disabled people. But the enforcement is still very weak and limited,” he said.