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Bali's biggest arts festival canceled due to COVID-19

Ni Komang Erviani

The Jakarta Post

Denpasar, Bali  /  Wed, April 1, 2020  /  03:06 pm
Bali's biggest arts festival canceled due to COVID-19

Dancers perform during a street parade for the Bali Arts Festival in Denpasar, Bali, on June 15, 2019. (The Jakarta Post/Zul Trio Anggono)

Bali has decided to cancel a month-long festival, the 42nd Bali Arts Festival, as a result of COVID-19.

This is the first cancellation of the event, Bali’s biggest annual arts festival, since it was first held 42 years ago. The decision was made after Bali declared a state of emergency on Monday.

I Wayan Adnyana, head of the Bali Cultural Agency, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday that the decision was made after discussions and meetings were held with many stakeholders, including regents and mayors across the island.  “After hearing input and carrying out discussions, Bali Governor [Wayan Koster] decided to cancel the Bali Arts Festival this year. The festival would take place next year,” he said.

The Bali Arts Festival was initially scheduled to run from June 13 to July 11, featuring Balinese arts and culture. Tens of thousands of Balinese artists were to take part in the festival. 

The festival was first held in 1979 when then-governor Ida Bagus Mantra approved funding dedicated to promoting local culture. Along with art performances, the festival also typically features an art and handicraft exhibition, workshops, seminars, competitions and culinary events featuring authentic Balinese cuisine.

Read also: Bali's The Nusa Dua improves safety measures amid pandemic

It would be impossible to hold the festival, Adnyana said, as Bali's state of emergency ends May 29. “During the emergency status, we would not be able to prepare. Moreover, we never know when the pandemic will end. The emergency status may be extended,” he said.

Adnyana said that slowing the spread of COVID-19 was more important than holding the festival. “It is too risky to hold the festival now. It's also impossible to implement social distancing at the festival,” he said.

Bali Arts Festival was slated to begin with art events across several regencies and cities in Bali. As participants would have had to practice for the festival, Adnyana feared that gatherings of people would pose a great risk.

Bali declared a state of emergency by imposing stricter measures on visitors in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 as cases continue to climb locally. The famous resort island is tightening checks at entrance gates and enforcing a 14-day self-quarantine for all who enter.

Nine new cases – eight Indonesians and one foreign national – were recorded in Bali on Monday, bringing the tally to 19. (wng)

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