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Gede Putra Witsen: The Guardian of Arts

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

A musician, an entertainer, an entrepreneur, an impact maker.

Gede Putra Witsen is a 20-year-old YIM who runs Mepantigan Bali Art Center in Indonesia while studying in Madrid, where he founded the Arts Society at IE University.

Mepantigan was originally created as a Balinese form of mixed martial arts connected to mother nature. Activities are done in the rice field mud in the form of mud wrestling. Throughout the years, Mepantigan has evolved into a Balinese arts and culture centre where people from around the world can get involved in real Balinese experiences. His family hopes that it can create Balinese youth who are more open minded and have the potential to share their talents abroad.

Today, Gede is also the youngest member of the Governance Council for the Green School in Bali, where he studied on a scholarship.

What is the philosophy behind Mepantigan Bali Arts Center and how did it cultivate your personality through the years?

Mepantigan Bali deeply encourages the Balinese philosophy of “Tri Hitta Karana”. This is a philosophy of balanced connection, between Human and Nature, Human to Human, and Human with Spirituality. Everything we do takes into account these aspects to live in harmony with all life on earth. For me personally, helps see the world differently. International, but local (glocal), business driven, but no harm to the nature that we rely on to survive in order to thrive on earth.

What is education to you and how is it integrated in Mepantigan Bali?

Education is more than just sitting in the classroom. Knowledge is driven through many aspects of life. It also comes from experiences, failures, your friends, your community, yourself, your dog and more... Education is important to understand the world and education must develop critical thinking in individuals. In Mepantigan, it is integrated by experiencing arts and culture. Understanding different cultures through arts to understand society, specifically Bali. Nevertheless, Mepantigan is looking to expand to bring our core values in learning through arts to the world.

Do you feel like there are aspects of education that should be included in the modern-day curriculum, but are not?

I do think so, and as mentioned before, we need to develop curriculums that can spark critical thinking amongst our next generations. It is not about memorizing texts in a book, but rather how we engage in what the book tells us. We are lucky that most of us live in a democracy, where we have many freedoms. In order for democracy to be sustainable, it must be in balance with education. If not, democracy will not be effective or sustainable. This is one of the reasons I believe that explains democracy's backslidings around the world to happen. Democracy only works alongside education. This avoids a large partisan society, as voting will not be because of what party our leaders are in, but on what it can do to further develop society better.

You got into Green School as a scholarship student, and ultimately became the youngest member of the Governance Council. What are the highlights from your journey?

Green School has been one of the best experiences in my life. It was a perfect fit for me. I gained experience attending international conferences such as the UN and OECD in Europe to talk about global problems, especially climate change. This gave me the interest to study International Relations, as it allows me to really understand the world. I’m grateful to have been invited to the Green School Governance Council, where I learn a lot to develop my personal skills, experiences, and to contribute to the strategic growth of our school.

What is one thing that you have learnt in Green School, that you feel everyone should have the chance to experience?

Hard question… But I guess the freedom of engaging in your own education. The flexibility to find your passions, to work on different social projects, and to become an individual that sees the world differently than the others. Attending Green School makes you think beyond, and look further into the future, other than having a common mentality as everybody else.

What led you to founding the Art Society at the IE University? What is the role arts play in your life?

Arts play a big role in my life. It unites people. My whole life has been around arts. The IEU Arts Society has a goal of unity in diversity of arts. IE University has a great number of art clubs, each doing their own things. This might be photography, music, dance etc. The society is the umbrella/union of all of the clubs. A platform where they can interact and it promotes collaboration, innovation, creativity and unity of the arts community at campus. Arts is the core of creativity and innovation, and this is what the society promotes. By engaging in art, no matter what that is, you are training yourself to be creative, which can be applied to business and innovation.

Do you trust that there is a connection between traditional and modern arts?

Absolutely, because modern arts come from inspiration of traditional arts. It is even more beautiful when you can combine them together.

What should we expect from Gede in the future? What are your goals and dreams?

I hope to expand Mepantigan Arts to the world. It started in Bali, and will soon work together with 25onehundred and its Mazí Mas Campus in Greece. We are also hoping to make our first camp in Spain, in summer 2021. We want to inspire creativity and innovation around the world through the arts. Arts not only from Bali, but from across the globe. Arts form the perfect training ground to paint a new tomorrow. A future that thrives through creativity and innovation!

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