The 17th edition of The Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) originally scheduled for 28 October – 01 November 2020, has been postponed until further notice.
In a media release from Janet DeNeefe, the UWRF founder and Director, said a “hard decision” has been made to postpone the 2020 event. Citing the “rapid escalation of COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia and other countries” forced the organizers to make the decision.
Janet DeNeefe said: “The decision was not an easy one to make. It doesn’t just impact our Foundation and the Festival team, but also means a loss of revenue due to a lack of ticket sales and valuable partnerships,” commented Janet DeNeefe. “Most importantly, it will largely impact our local communities in both Ubud and Bali that look forward to the economic boost of these much-loved annual events. Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic in March, Bali has become one of the most affected regions in Indonesia due to its heavy reliance on tourism.” The two core initiatives of the Foundation: Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) and Ubud Food Festival (UFF), over the years, have created significant economic benefits across all tourism sectors, from air travels, hotels, transports, restaurants and retails, to farmers in the rice fields. UWRF, as one of the largest literary festivals in Southeast Asia and UFF as Indonesia’s leading food festival, are the nation’s most important cross-cultural gatherings, showcasing Indonesian culture and talent on a diverse global stage.”
In Dire Financial Straits
Postponement of the UWRF and UFF has placed the future of the events in a precarious financial position. DeNeefe commented: “In order to sustain our community-building philosophy, we are seeking help to ensure the survival of both Festivals and the Foundation. By supporting the Yayasan Patron Program and making a valuable contribution, people from around the world will be directly involved in delivering both Festivals in due time. Their contribution will go a long way to guarantee the future of Indonesia’s most meaningful cross-cultural platform of words, ideas, and culture through its diverse programs. The Festivals always give back to the community and assist in promoting Indonesia to the world. From the Children & Youth program for local schools’ students, bringing the Festival to remote areas across the Archipelago with Satellite Events, supporting the future of Indonesia’s literature with Emerging Writers program, to delivering live music, film screenings and art performances accessible for everyone, serving food stalls of local businesses, and championing Indonesia’s best writers, artists, performers in a global stage.”
“In 16 years, UWRF has even become the world’s most important cross-cultural, bridge-building initiative between Indonesian and non-Indonesian cultures,” DeNeefe continued. “Now, more than ever, we need your support. We have created ways for you to be a part of the Yayasan Patron Program, tailored to your preference. This way, you can help the Foundation and these important events survive!”
The UWRF has placed a video on Youtube.com announcing the postponement and appealing for financial support to guarantee the Festival’s return in years to come.
The Ubud Writers & Readers Festival seeks to “create a world-class festival that celebrates extraordinary stories and amplifies brave voices, tackles global issues and bold ideas.” The Festival brings together a diverse mix of Indonesian and international writers, speakers, thinkers, artists, advocates, commentators, and activists to create a space for cross-cultural dialogue and connection. The Ubud Writers & Readers Festival is one of the major annual projects of the not-for-profit Foundation, Yayasan Mudra Swari Saraswati. It was first organized in 2004 by Janet DeNeefe, co-founder of the Foundation, as a healing project in response to the first Bali bombing.