Every year, from mid-June to mid-July the PKB (Pesta Kesenian Bali or Bali Arts Festival) comes to the Werdi Budaya Art Center, Jalan Nusa Indah in East Denpasar. Nightly there are performances of both traditional and contemporary dance and music at a number of the six theatre venues here. During the day, beginning at 10:00 a.m. the handicraft and food stalls open, showcasing the best of each regency, with delights for everyone of every age. In the late morning rare forms of music and dance from all over the island are shown – a great time to see some great performances.
In 1979, Bali’s governor, the esteemed and loved Prof. Ida Bagus Mantera, opened the very first Bali Arts Festival on June 20th. He stated that “the Bali Arts Festival should take its place as the basic forum for the growth of our love of the arts.” As the arts are such an integral part of the culture, Prof. Mantera wanted to see them celebrated in a place that would be accessible to all. To promote this, most performances are free of charge to the public and those where tickets are necessary are sold at an affordable price to most people.
Each part of Bali has its unique art forms – the weaving of Sidemen, the jegog bamboo gamelan orchestra of Negara in West Bali and the genyek singing of Karangasem in the East. Most Balinese haven’t seen all of these forms and this venue was created for both Balinese and visitors to Bali, to highlight the rich cultural heritage this tiny island has to offer.
The festival begins with its Grand Parade on opening day, starting from the Bajra Sandhi Puputan field in Renon and ending at the Denpasar Art Centre. Each regency is represented with a gamelan orchestra and people dressed in their regional dress. Often tall, towering offerings are carried of the heads of colorfully dressed women, once again showing what diversity Bali has to offer. Balinese from all over the island come to watch this parade and it is televised on local TV. It’s good idea to get to Renon early in order to get front row seat. Bring a hat and an umbrella as well as a camera.
At the Art Centre itself, exhibitions are set up in the two main halls. Competitions are held of food, costumes, offering making, and pop singing in the indoor Ksiranawa Theater. Performances are held in the huge outdoor Ardha Candra amphitheatre, the wantilan (a small, in the round traditional space), the tetaring Stage outside the Ardha Candra, the Ayodya stage in the old kecak arena in the northeast corner and in front of the exhibition hall by the river.
Some of the most exquisite performances are those done at the Wantilan and the outdoor stages in the evenings and those in the late morning. Here you often find forms, which are dying out, watched by only a handful of people but the spirit of the performance, can be quite moving.
Location : Denpasar Arts Centre (Taman Werdhi Budaya), Jalan Nusa Indah, Denpasar.