The Jakarta Post
Two cultural festivals kicked off over the weekend in an effort to showcase the country's artistic expressions, boost tourism and strengthen ties with participants.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono officially opened the month-long Bali Arts Festival in Denpasar on Saturday while Tourism and Creative Economy Deputy Minister Sapta Nirwandar opened the Borobudur International Festival (BIF) on Friday evening.
Yudhoyono and First Lady Ani Yudhoyono attended a street parade held in front of the Bajra Sandhi Monument in Renon in the afternoon and officially opened a fiesta at the Werddhi Budaya Art Center in the evening.
Also attending the parade were Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika, Education and Culture Minister Muhammad Nuh and Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu. The parade displayed the richness of Balinese culture, as well as other cultures in Indonesia.
Things got under way with theatrical performances from Adi Merdangga and Siwa Natharaja to the Gong Beri traditional ensemble, followed by cultural performances from Papua province. A national singer from Papua, Edo Kondologit, was among the performers.
The procession continued with performances from each regency in Bali displaying a sarad (decorative offering made of colored sticky rice cakes).
Also showcasing their cultural heritage were artists from Sumenep in East Java, West Lampung in Lampung and East Timor, as heavy rain drenched the parade.
'The Bali Arts Festival aims to represent the richness of Balinese culture, which has been preserved to this day,' Pastika said.
The opening ceremony at the main stage of the Werddhi Budaya Art Center featured Garuda Digjaya Mahambhara (The Powerful Garuda, Master Of The Sky) dance drama.
The festival will run until July 13, with more than 340 arts performances being staged by around 15,000 artists and shows taking place every day at several venues within the Bali Arts Center in Denpasar. The Bali administration has allocated a special budget of Rp 5 billion (US$506,000) for the festival.
Meanwhile, a series of performances including the colossal Spirit of Borobudur dance were presented during the opening ceremony of BIF, which was also attended by diplomats from a number of countries.
'Central Java province has a lot of tourism potential and the home of some delicious food,' Sapta said in his opening remarks on Friday evening.
He expressed hope that the BIF agenda could become a medium for the province to increase the number of tourist visits to the region as part of the Visit Central Java 2013 program. That way, the province's economy was also expected to improve.
'BIF is a moment to open up opportunities, not only in tourism but also in domestic and international trading,' Sapta said.
The festival is to run until Monday with a number of events including art and cultural performances, an international heritage seminar, a Borobudur travel mart, local product exhibition and a tour for diplomats to a number of tourist sights in Central Java.
Participating countries include Belgium, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, China, Slovakia and Thailand.
Central Java Governor Bibit Waluyo expressed hope that the representatives of the participating countries could tell their families, friends and colleagues back home about the tourism potential of the province.
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