Bali's Cultural Directorate has confirmed that steps are underway that will "patent" as intellectual property the Pendet Dance and a whole range of other traditional performances and Bali- style cultural elements.
The move is part of a continuing hullabaloo between Bali and Malaysia in which the island's artists charge Malaysia with trying to hijack Bali and Indonesia's cultural identify to promote Malaysian tourism. [See: Malasyia, Truly Bali] Following mass protests stage by Balinese artists on August 22, 2009, the Bali Cultural Directorate has held a series of coordination meetings to deal with the problem. Those meeting are inventorying and cataloging Bali's rich range of cultural and artistic traditions for eventual registration.
Undeterred by official explanations from Malaysia that the use of Balinese Dances in a Discovery Channel documentary on Malaysian were without the involvement or endorsement of the Malaysian government, Indonesian cultural circles have become adamant that steps must be taken to safeguard Indonesia from cultural pretenders. While how the actual patents will be applied remains unclear, officials say the safeguard being put in place will offer protection to Bali's music, dance, theatre, architecture, traditional organizations and the Bali-Hindu philosophical tradition.
Both the Balinese government and its people seem committed to create a protective legal umbrella over the island's rich cultural milieu.
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