Despite a month of Mount Agung rumbling in East Bali, the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) will today welcome its 14th year as over 150 of the world’s leading authors, artists, thinkers and performers from more than 30 countries descend on Bali and bring the island to life.

Over the next five days, the Festival will deliver more than 240 events across 30 venues, spanning open-air panel discussions, intimate special events, exhilarating live performances, film screenings, cultural tours, art exhibitions and more.

With the island’s vital tourism industry taking a significant hit due to increased volcanic activity, the Festival – which through audience expenditure on accommodation, meals, transport and shopping injects an estimated AUD $1,000,000 into the local economy – comes as a welcome relief.

“This has been an extremely difficult time for the Balinese, not just for evacuees but for local businesses who are playing an invaluable role in supporting affected communities while also feeling the impact themselves,” commented Founder & Director of the UWRF, Janet DeNeefe.

“It’s been incredible to see how all facets of the island can band together in times of crisis, and the response from the local authorities has been extraordinary. We’re proud to be a part of this amazingly resilient and caring community.”

The Festival has announced it will host a special fundraising evening for those affected by Mount Agung, featuring some of Indonesia’s most celebrated artistic talent, including the legendary Papermoon Puppet Theatre, and internationally-acclaimed dancer and choreographer, Eko Supriyanto.

Most speakers have remained enthusiastic and excited to join this year’s event. Among them are UK crime writer Ian Rankin, Canada’s newest literary star Madeleine Thien, Wild Swans author Jung Chang, Malaysian human rights activist and former UN Person of the Year, Marina Mahathir, Australian climatologist Tim Flannery, and Latin America’s leading author, Héctor Abad. Sessions featuring Simon Winchester, author of the New York Times Bestseller Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded, are bound to be well-attended.