Developing Vietnam’s cultural industry

Monday, 2018-02-19 10:20:52
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'Bai Choi' performance (Photo:Tran Hoa Kha)
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NDO – The "cultural industry" is an umbrella term for the combination of the industries involved in the creation, production, distribution, and consumption of cultural or creative products and the protection of intellectual property rights. Specifically, it covers the production and service activities inherent in the act of creation, so it can often be referred to as the "Creative Industry".

Cultural industry in Vietnam

"Cultural industry", is a new term for the economy and culture of Vietnam, only coming into use over the last three to five years. Since 2016, the term gained greater recognition when the Prime Minister approved Decision No. 1755 / QD-TTg dated September 8, 2016 on a strategy of developing cultural industries until 2020 with a vision to 2030.

The development of cultural industries plays an important role in exploiting the economic potential of culture, promoting national identity, creativity, and innovation while empowering the nation in the age of globalisation, digitisation, and increased competition, as well as taking advantage of cultural resources in building the economy and exalting international prestige of the country.

In developed countries, the annual growth rate of the cultural industries is twice as high as the annual growth rate of the service industry, and four times that of the manufacturing sector. It is positioned as a key economic sector, creating an overall competitive advantage, fostering innovation and creating a more balanced and diversified economy. Cultural organisations and businesses have been playing an important role in promoting economic growth, by enhancing the integration of the culture - arts sector with the business and technology sectors.

However, over the years, general society in Vietnam, particularly the management of culture and art, have not seen the importance of cultural industry to the economy in the context of marketability, international integration, and the development of art and culture. Even so, the cultural industry is sometimes identical to the commercialisation of art and culture.

The Decision No. 1755 / QĐ-TTg has solved many problems related to the cultural industry, elevating it to a new position of relevance to the national economy. Accordingly, the burgeoning cultural industry is the cause of the whole people, as one of the leading manufacturing and service industries. The cultural industry strives to contribute about three percent of Vietnam's GDP in 2020, rising to seven percent by 2030, and being a continual source of job creation.

The cultural industry combines three elements: innovation, the distribution of goods through modern infrastructure and production technology, and the ability to produce cultural products for economic benefit. In Vietnam, there are 12 industry groups: advertising, architecture, software and entertainment, handicrafts, design, cinema, publishing, fashion, performing arts, fine art - photography - exhibitions, television and radio, and cultural tourism. The cultural industries can exist independently, but they are often interdisciplinary; concentrated in one area that aims promote synergy such as: Cultural industry complexes, cultural industry parks, and cultural industry centres.

Cultural tourism – Spearheading the cultural industry

Vietnam is a country with a rich cultural tradition, being home to many World Heritage Sites and cultural legacies. By 2017, Vietnam had the highest number of World Heritage Sites in ASEAN, including eight world heritage sites; 12 intangible cultural heritages; two world documentary heritages; nine World Biosphere Reserves; and one global geological park. At present, Vietnam has recorded more than 40,000 cultural heritages; with nearly 10,000 cultural festivals per year of 54 ethnic groups in the country, as well as the customs and cultural cuisines of different regions that are a valuable cultural treasure for Vietnam's tourism industry.

The heritages offer many advantages and potential, and are a great resource in developing a rich cultural industry. They are the inspiration, the material for the creation of cultural products. There exists a mutual benefit, as cultural products contribute to promoting heritage values, linking them with common cultural values of the community, region, nation and the world. As a result, it can be said that cultural tourism will be a spearhead of the cultural industry, in the coming time.

Painter, sculptors Dinh Gia Thang
(Author of Heroic Vietnamese Mother Monument)

Looking at the development of cultural industries in advanced countries, including the role of art, it can be seen that world famous museums such as the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay (France); NY Metropolitan (US); Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum (Netherlands); or the Vatican museums (Italy), have yearly visitor numbers reaching into the millions, with the revenue from ticket sales bringing in hundreds of millions of euros per year. Cultural works such as the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Eiffel tower in Paris (France), or the Motherland monument in Volgograd (Russia) also attracted tens of millions of visitors each year, helping their tourism industries contribute significantly to GDP.

While building on such a long history and unique cultural identity, achieving the set goals with a vision to 2030 and developing the cultural industry and fine arts will require many breakthroughs, especially in equipping students with knowledge of aesthetics from primary school level. It is necessary to develop comprehensive architectural infrastructure coupled with the promotion of tourism and culture to attract international visitors. It is also necessary to promote the creative values of art and architecture through the creation of magnificent outdoor sculptures and unique architectural works to create cultural highlights in big cities; permanently display high-value art works at the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum to attract domestic and international visitors, which will provide a large source of revenue from ticket sales. In addition, it is necessary to promote creativity in the field of industrial arts for the creation of consumer products, which are both traditional and modern, bringing a high economic value.

Director NGUYEN PHAN QUANG BINH - Chairman of BHD
(Director of the film Vu Khuc Con Co (Dance of the Stork), Canh Dong Bat Tan (Endless Fields), or Quyen; Producer of films Ao Lua Ha Dong (The White Silk Dress), Nhung Nu Hon Ruc Ro (The Brilliant Kisses).

Vietnamese cinema has been thriving in recent years. In years previous to 2008, the box office only grossed under US$ 5 million per year. By 2017, the amount had surpassed US$ 140 million (including US$ 35 million from Vietnamese films). With a growth rate of 20-25% per year, the film industry in Vietnam will continue to flourish in the coming years.

However, the movie industry in Vietnam is facing fierce competition from foreign cinemas (mainly CGV and Lotte of the Republic of Korea), which hold more than 65% of the market share in movie distribution; with Vietnamese businesses accounting for only 35%, 2% of which are State owned while 33% are privately owned. In this context, it is necessary to roll out timely and appropriate policies so that filmmakers can work with all their talent and determination to preserve Vietnamese culture and produce quality films that can will imbue a sense of pride and strongly resonate with the country’s audience.