Mitra Bali is a non-profit NGO formed in 1993. A non-governmental, non-profit organisation, the Mitra Bali Foundation acts as a market and export facilitator for small craft producers who are missing out to large, well established, commission paying businesses in the ‘great Bali tourism bonanza’. Without direct access to the Bali road arteries, it is difficult for those producers who have little working capital to access or even accept large orders without a fair deposit and prompt payment for goods. Yet, the contribution of these artisans to the development of the island is substantial. Their artistic output represents the visible face of Balinese culture, which, ironically, helps to draw tourists and buyers to Bali.
To counter the marginalization of these producers, Mitra Bali works within the framework of 100 producer groups employing over 1,000 men and women. Pricing and costs are discussed with the producers. Costs are broken down to ensure that everything, including an allowance for profit, is covered.
Sitting cross-legged on the warm ground, surrounded with thin sticks, paint and a pot of glue, an artisan from Mitra Bali fashions a kite. The young women and men of this neighbourhood family workshop gather to bind sticks, stretch nylon, shape the sails and paint the butterflies that become the wondrous soaring kites of Mitra Bali. A few, including Pak, the head kite maker, are physically disabled, but adapt well to the demanding artistry of kite making. Later in the afternoon, while colourful butterflies dry in the sun, the villagers sip tea and check the wind – perhaps there’s time to go fly a kite…