2024 Festival: Unveiling The Theme 'Satyam Vada Dharmam Chara: Speak The Truth, Practice Kindness'

Ubud, Bali, 5 April 2024—Yayasan Mudra Swari Saraswati proudly announces the return of the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, with its 21st edition from 23 to 27 October, exploring the theme 'Satyam Vada Dharmam Chara: Speak the Truth, Practice Kindness.'

For more than two decades, the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) has grown to become Southeast Asia’s most meaningful literature event, showcasing and sharing groundbreaking storytelling from leading writers, poets and playwrights. This October, the Festival will continue to spark ideas, foster dialogue, and provide a space for engaging world voices. Alongside author in-conversations and panel discussions there will be performances, literary lunches and dinners, guided cultural tours, late night readings, live music and spoken word, as well as, book launches and workshops.

The theme of this year's Festival, 'Satyam Vada Dharmam Chara,' originates from the epic Hindu scripture, the Mahabharata. Translated as Speak the Truth, Practice Kindness, it emphasizes truth and kindness as an essential human quality. It is linked to the philosophical concept of Balinese Hinduism, ‘Tri Pramana’, the three powers within humans: Bayu (wind), Sabda (speech), and Idep (mind), representing the abilities to live, speak, and think

Aligned with this profound theme, the Festival delves into the work of our writers who are creating a difference in the current literary arena. In a world where words are powerful weapons, we are invited to reflect on the influence and importance of literature amidst rapid technological advancements, information dissemination and current events, based on the principles of truth and integrity.

"This year we will present a program that explores how words and ideas can shape public discourse, influence societal norms, and how writers can amplify the values of truth and kindness, against a world that is increasingly going the other way’, said Janet DeNeefe, Festival Founder and Director.

The ancient Hindu scripture, which underpins the festival theme, is explored with fresh eyes by Ida Lawrence, Australian-Indonesian visual artist. Known for her distinct style in blending storytelling and painting, Ida crafted a dynamic composition of books forming letters that depict the theme in Sanskrit, woven into a vibrant array of colors, textures, and patterns.

“I wanted the process of seeing books form the letters that spell out the theme in Sanskrit, realizing their nature as books, and deciphering the message they convey to require a slowing down and sustained period of looking.” said Ida Lawrence. “It’s unusual for me to make work with a moral message so rather than illustrate the theme, I meditated on questions while I painted, and the final artwork became like an artifact or visual description of that reflection process.”

Together with today’s theme announcement, the Festival also releases its Book Launch Program. Indonesian and international writers alike can benefit from a fully arranged venue, as well as, extensive marketing, networking and hospitality opportunities. Since 2018, the Festival has championed hundreds of emerging and established writers with this program. Authors can find out more about the program and submit their work here—the deadline for submission is Sunday, 30 June 2024.

In partnership with the Australasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP), the Festival has also launched an open call for writers based in Australasia to take the chance to travel to the 2024 Festival. Aspiring authors are invited to submit their work to the Emerging Writers' Prizes of Prose and Poetry, while translators at all career stages are encouraged to submit their work to the Translators' Prize. Writers can find out more about the prizes and how to submit their work here—the deadline for submission is Sunday, 30 June 2024.

“We are proud to champion more than twenty years of vibrant and diverse writing from Indonesia, Southeast Asia and beyond and bring together world-class storytellers, thinkers, and new voices from all corners of the world to Ubud,” said Janet DeNeefe, “we cannot wait to welcome our devoted followers once again this October to experience the unique spirit of our Festival that is literally magical.”


Early bird tickets go on sale on Wednesday, 24 July, along with the first program release. The full program will be unveiled as general ticket sales start on Wednesday, 28 August.

The Festival poster and photos of the artist Ida Lawrence are available for download here. Our media kit, containing all necessary resources and materials to enhance your coverage and promotion of the Festival, is available here.


Ida Lawrence is a visual artist known for her narrative paintings that blend storytelling and painting techniques. Her works explore themes of (mis)understanding, (dis)connection, generosity, failure, and surprise, drawing inspiration from her experiences living in Australia, Indonesia, and Germany.

Lawrence's paintings often incorporate text and images to convey complex narratives, inviting viewers to interpret multiple layers of meaning. She embraces the "visual language" of painting, experimenting with techniques and materials to enhance the storytelling aspect of her art. Many of her works reveal their construction process, with visible patterns, mistakes, and varied painting styles adding depth to the storytelling.

Lawrence holds a degree in painting from the National Art School in Sydney and completed Honours at Sydney College of the Arts. She has also studied dance at the Institut Seni Indonesia in Yogyakarta.

Lawrence's work has been exhibited internationally, including a solo exhibition titled Basa-Basi / Chit-Chat at Art SG 2023 in Singapore with ISA Art Gallery. She frequently collaborates with Woven Kolektif, a group of artists connected by their ties to Indonesia. She was also a participant in the BPA//Berlin program for artists mentorship from 2022 to 2023. She is represented by ISA Art Gallery in Jakarta.

Learn more about the creative artist, her work, and current projects at: idalawrence.info.

Our Media Kit includes artwork and general images for download in high-resolution quality, along with the Festival logo and general festival information.
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