Last update 11/16/2010 6:35:29 PM (GMT+7)

Why Vietnamese businessmen remain indifferent to Vietnamese arts?

VietNamNet Bridge – Local newspapers these days report a lot on football transfers worth tens of billion dong and the art performance shows worth trillions dong. But, no money has gone to support Vietnam’s contemporary art.

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After publishing a series of articles on the support of Vietnamese businessmen for the development of Vietnam’s art, VietNamNet has received many letters and emails from readers who point out the biggest problems in the cultural support and suggest the solutions to the current problems.

VietNamNet would like to introduce the article by Nguyen Dinh Thanh, MA in Cultural Administration, who worked for the French Culture Centre.

Most of the noteworthy contemporary art exhibitions in Vietnam have been supported and sponsored by foreigners. A well known contemporary painter said in an interview given to a local newspaper that he cannot understand why Vietnamese sponsors remain so indifferent to Vietnamese art.

The most outstanding pieces by Tran Luong, Truong Tan, Le Hong Thai, Le Quang Ha, Nguyen Minh Thanh, Nguyen Quang Huy, Nguyen Van Cuong, and then Pham Ngoc Duong, Nguyen Manh Hung, Tran Trung Thanh and Ly Tran Quynh Giang have all … “gone”.

If one day, Vietnam wants to set up a contemporary art museum, it will surely have to spend big money or it will not be able to purchase the works.

Local newspapers these days report on football transfers worth tens of billion dong and the art performance shows worth trillions dong. But no money has gone to support Vietnam’s contemporary art.

Building castles in the air

In an effort to bring contemporary art to the community, some non-government organizations and individuals have been trying to set up cultural funds and lobby for cultural support. However, it is very difficult to get the nod from the sponsors. Why?

It is clear that the lack of money is not the main reason why big businessmen refuse to give their support. Judging by the numbers of aircrafts, yachts, supercars and villas, no one could say that Vietnam does not have billionaires to sponsor artistic activities. Some people spend hundreds of millions dong to support various programmes, none of which are related to Vietnamese art.

In Vietnam, collecting art is still a distant notion. Vietnamese artists once felt sad when the work “Mao Zedong” by Andy Warhol was purchased by a Hong Kong’s billionaire at $17.4 million.

Chinese contemporary artists have been listed among the richest people in China and their earnings of tens millions dollars is comparable to that of the most famous artists in the world . Their works have been purchased by domestic billionaires.

What are the problems?

The main problem is that businesses cannot see the benefit from art sponsorship. Currently they cannot enjoy any tax incentives in Vietnam, when purchasing artworks, or sponsor cultural and sport events.

Meanwhile, artworks are not considered investments with liquidity for businesses. The lack of experts who can examine the origins and commercial values of works also keep investors and businesses away from artistic works.

The art market in Vietnam is still too small to improvethe positions and livelihood of artists.

What to do?

First of all, it is necessary to pay more attention to training and providing knowledge about art. It is necessary to promote the important works onspecial websites which provide regular updates on/keeps track of the cultural life in the society. The websites need to provide multi-angled views on exhibitions and artistic works.

In France, cities or smaller administration units regularly order artists to do public artistic projects. This not only provides artistswith more jobs to ensure their livelihood, but also creates jobs within the locality and and is a source of their pride. . Meanwhile, in Vietnam, there are only small displays of artistic works around Hoan Kiem Lake or Huong River.

Vietnam should also think of establishing a contemporary art museum in Hanoi or HCM City. In Bangkok, there are at least 48 museums, including three modern art museums and one contemporary art museum.

The development of a nation is not measured by the number of imported luxurious cars , but by the quality of life, measured for example by the numbers of museums, and cultural and artistic centres.

Nguyen Dinh Thanh