Unleashing talent: The Bali Creative Community and artists meet for a Pin Hole Camera show.Courtesy of Bali Creative Community

Trisha Sertori, Contributor, Denpasar | Thu, 01/13/2011 10:49 AM | Feature

Unleashing talent: The Bali Creative Community and artists meet for a Pin Hole Camera show.Courtesy of Bali Creative   arts are at the heart of Balinese culture. Stretching out in every direction are women making offerings or gliding the streets with fruits and flowers atop gilded bowls; in their swaying wake are gongs of brass and Hinduism’s Gods carried aloft on brocaded divans.

On almost every street corner are wood carvings of those same Gods or of fishermen and farmers, ducks, cats and chickens of all sorts, hard up against these are the textiles in patterns and designs laid down centuries ago; but Bali’s creative spirit is not locked in the past.

It is rather a “creative destination that has a contemporary and modern group of people producing architecture, art, music and a lot of performances,” says graphic designer, Ayip Arief Budiman, chairman of the Indonesian Association of Graphic Designers.

Coming together under the umbrella of Bali Creative Community (BCC) that holds festivals, workshops and discussion groups, Ayip and others are attempting to put the creative economy of Bali on
the map, to help the public and government recognize that economies thrive when creativity is the oil of societies.

“We founded Bali Creative Community back in 2008. Prior to that we were hearing the term creative economy — that notion had become an [economic] engine in countries such as England, and here in Asia in Singapore.

“I think the reason the idea of creative economies is so sexy is because this comes from the people. It means if we develop creativity we are developing people.

“Business has been based on land exploitation, so it’s not eco friendly. But a creative economy answers that well,” said Ayip at the offices of internationally recognized architect and member of BCC, Popo Danes.

Heavyweights in the creative industries, such as Popo Danes and Ayip are currently being supported in their vision for a more avant-garde approach to Bali’s creativity through the provincial government, which seeks BCC input for festivals such as the recent Denpasar Festival explains radio disc jockey and music writer, Rudolf Dethu.

“The idea of creative economies is not new. The Bali government was looking to develop this as early as 2005, but we [BCC] realized the government did not have a clear idea of how to implement the actual notion of economic creativity.

“Governments move slowly and we could not wait and so we established BCC as a forum for people to share ideas and support those ideas to develop an economy with creativity as its base. An economy that helps people see they can earn a living from their creativity,” said Dethu who is best known as the former manager of punk rock band Superman is Dead.

Bali’s beaches, tourism and traditions have long been the motor of its economy, says Dethu, but it has more to offer.

“We see that BCC is more than a forum for discussion — we see this is also very important for Bali — we imagine that into the future rather than depending on the tourism industry as it is today, focused on beaches, tourist attractions and traditional lifestyles, it can also embrace modernity and a contemporary approach to the arts,” said Dethu.

The idea of traditions evolving, of teasing out ways of expression side by side with those of the past, was best seen recently during the Denpasar Festival that was assisted in its art direction by the BCC.

“With the Denpasar Festival we put break dancing between the traditional dance performances and the people really enjoyed it — there was so much energy, it is dynamic and it makes all the performances more alive,” says Dethu.

Ayip explains this is evidence of a “society in motion. People can see youth proud to be local, to be Indonesian and modern. And I feel they will also see we are all very connected; they will slowly come to more fully respect the traditions in dance or other arts, through their own creativity. We are building bridges between the past and the future in arts,” says Ayip.

The way forward is through movement, through reinvention of the past, he adds.

“During the festival and during our weekly meetings called Obral Rabu Malam, we have Peca Kucha, which is the Japanese term for chit chat. This is a 20 slides in 20 seconds presentation, so it’s very fast paced. Normally when you hear about a slide show you think that will be boring; but in this style information is edited down to its essence in these 20 x 20s. Young people at the BCC Festival in December really enjoyed this with so much to talk about after the presentations,” says Ayip
BCC is sharing the word on Bali’s new spirit of the avant-garde traveling to the Sydney Design Festival, Kuala Lumpur Design Week and the Bangkok Design Festival.

“There we spread the word about world silence day, based on the practice of Nyepi here in Bali. On that one day 20,000 tons of carbon are not released into the atmosphere. We are involved in a traveling poster competition that was in KL then Bangkok, Bali and next in Yogyakarta, so BCC sees creativity going hand in hand with an environmentally healthy perspective,” he goes on.

Into 2011 BCC plans to map out creative industries across Bali. Popo Danes explains this is imperative if a creative economy is to become a reality across the island.

“This is most important because it will help, say tourists as an example, know what is where and from that formulate a program. We can also develop budgets and assistance in different areas to avoid a concentration of tourists only in the south, expanding out access to a creative economy for all,” says Popo Danes of a new direction for Bali’s creative communities.