Today, photographer Rio Helmi caught a mini press conference at Bali Spirit Festival in Purnati, and even managed to shoot a couple of questions off. Being a photographer, the ensuing report is fairly economical on words. Typically, he filled in the rest with even more photos of the festival!

 

This year, the seventh annual Bali Spirit Festival boasts some seven hundred attendees, up from two hundred and fifty during the first one in 2008. Kadek Gunarta a.k.a. Dek Gun, who along with his wife Meghan Pappenheim is one of the principal instigators behind the festival,  sees the festival as a way to bring Bali back on track after the bombings of 2002 and 2005. Like so many others, their handicrafts export business was destroyed by the huge downturn after the bombings.

 

“However we were well aware of the destructive nature of mass tourism. We saw yoga as a way of filtering the people we were trying to attract, to avoid mass tourism.” The couple also saw this as a way to give back to the community of Ubud, and Bali in general.

 

Some questioned the high fees – one participant from the UK pointed out that similar events in England were less than half of the average USD 625- full festival pass charged by Bali Spirit Festival this year.

 

Addressing this at today’s press conference, Dek Gun pointed out that during the festival, aside from volunteers who last year numbered nearly 150, they employ a large number of security and maintenance people, not to mention the 10 full-time, year-round staff. Quite a large portion, at least 25%, of the gross income goes to directly sustaining social initiatives such as the bamboo project, through which farmers profit through sales of bamboo the farmers have grown from seedlings provided to them for free, as well as HIV awareness programs and so forth, which Dek Gun and Meghan’s foundation, Kriya Asta has set up. Additionally they have spent nearly Rp 350 million on a new Youth Centre in Teges, and they support other causes as well.

 

“And don’t forget there is a big positive effect on the community too. Our social media reaches hundreds of thousands a year, promoting Ubud and Bali. We have an arrangement with a local school that their pupils can attend certain workshops, broadening their horizons, and they can also volunteer if they wish – we have a hundred of them this year. During the festival nearly a billion Rupiah (about US$80,000) is earned by local businesses, drivers, home stays, restaurants etc from our participants.”

 

In his closing remarks, Dek Gun admitted that the foundation needs to create greater transparency regarding the finances involved in the Festival and the other activities it supports. Meanwhile, most of the participants seemed blissfully unaware of all of this  (and the rain) and focused on their workshops. And the Masala Bhangra Workout participants didn’t care about anything else by the end of it!!!

 

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Getting into the spirit of things…

 

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And a  more mainstream approach to fixing physical problems…

 

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Ah, so many photo ops…

 

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“Whoaaaa – I’m flying!!!”

 

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Look Ma, no hands….

 

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How the pros do it..

 

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Life is an offering (part 2).

 

 

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Style is half the battle.

 

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Acha! Bhangra hai!

 

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Let’s get some Masala into that Bhangra baby. Yeah! (photog couldn’t keep still, blurry bhangra…)

 

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O Bhaiyya Bro! The name is Sarina Jain! Via India and New York!!!