Last update 11/12/2010 9:00:00 AM (GMT+7)

Academic art in Vietnam needs support from businessmen
VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnamese businessmen do not lack hearts or money, but they still rarely consider lending a hand to support Vietnam’s academic art. As the result, Vietnam’s cultural development has to rely on foreign support.

VietNamNet’s Vietnam Economic Forum (VEF) had a talk with Artist Tran Luong, who has been playing a very important role in organizing modern exhibitions of young painters in an effort to bring contemporary art closer to the public. The interview also aims to give a general view on the culture development and the social responsibility of businesses and businessmen in the context of globalization.

I know that you are the person who has been invited by foreign culture supporting funds to act as a member of the appraisal councils. What do you think about cultural support now in Vietnam?

First of all, I would like to provide a panorama. There are three main kinds of cultural support.

First, the government’s aid. The support comes from the state budget and mainly goes through ministries and associations.

Second, commercial support. This kind of support is always associated with the commercial rights of the supporters. The problem is that commercial support for cultural development only focuses on massive culture activities, such as pop music, fashion performances or football tournaments. There is very little support for academic art.

Third, non-profit support. This is the most important kind of support to help art develop, and it does not care about the geographical position, political mechanism or racial conflict.

In other countries in the world, the support comes from different sources, including the funds of big enterprises and the funds developed by big sponsors who have knowledge and hearts towards the development of the national culture.

How about Vietnam?

“New arts” have been inevitably developing in Vietnam in the last 20 years . You see, local newspapers nowadays talk much about concerts, performance art, installation art, while people watch video art. However, the orthodox support has not helped develop these new arts.

Twenty years ago, when Vietnam began opening its doors to the world, Vietnam’s contemporary art at that time was “passable” if compared with other South East Asian countries. However, we have are lagging behind them.

In began traveling abroad in 1992 and I have been to 30 countries in the world. I have found out that non-profit support plays a very important role in art development.

Arts will not be able to develop if they only depend on government support. Meanwhile, big enterprises only want to give support to popularized cultural activities such as festivals, beauty contests or fashion performance, because the support can bring economic benefit to them.

The problem lies in the society’s awareness, while we have to bear consequences of the interruptions in education and wars.

Artists nowadays have to overcome a lot of difficulties. It is very difficult to seek sponsors. They have to pay a lot of money to display their works at museums, important theatres, and they have to get licenses for this. With so many challenges, how can young artists start their creative process?

What should we do to create the “cultural support funds” to be developed by Vietnamese big sponsors?

I have mentioned the consequences of interruptions in education and wars. Very few Vietnamese people have deep knowledge about folk culture, about the role of religions in life, about concert and opera.

Even the knowledgeable sponsors dare not support “new arts” because they fear the new arts might relate to political and social problems, thus being unsafe for their business. Therefore, it is very difficult for non-profit support to be established.

Besides, we still do not have a reasonable method to set up private culture support funds. The legal framework does not create favorable conditions to create independent non-profit funds which can make great contributions to the art and culture development.

I know that the president of a big economic group once tried to create such a fund two years ago, but the idea could not become a reality.

It is clear that non-profit support in Vietnam is the smallest sector in cultural support. What do you think about this?

Vietnamese artists now have to overcome so many difficulties because very few organizations want to support them. Vietnamese businessmen do not lack hearts or money, but they still do not think of lending a hand to support Vietnam’s academic art. As the result, Vietnam cultural development has to rely on foreign support.

Cao Nhat