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Businessmen, please be skillful midwife for art   2010-11-24 - Viet Nam Net

Everyone wishes to see the domestic art market become stronger with the support of businessmen, because they, together with the state, can be the most skillful midwife to art.


Several days ago, VietNamNet began launching a series of stories on the role of businesses and businessmen in developing culture and art. The topic has drawn particular attention from businessmen and culture specialists/researchers as well. Now VietNamnet would like to introduce the opinions of Painter Luong Xuan Doan about the issue. With this interview the discussion will temporarily stop.

As you may know, a lot of businesses came forward and sponsored many cultural activities. However, funding cultural activities is not yet common/popular in our society. What do you think about sponsoring of cultural activities in Vietnam?

This is good news for Vietnam’s culture and art. This is a really good start making us believe that in the next decade, we will be able to see a bigger and more important role of Vietnamese businessmen in the development of the national culture.

What I have to say is that the ask-and-grant mechanism has been predominant in the culture and art sponsoring. This makes many artists uncomfortable because they do not want to be asking for anything.

Every year, the state still allocates money to artists through various associations. However, sometimes it is very difficult for some artists to access the sponsor and the “orders from the state”.

What do you think about the non-state sponsoring which has helped change the cultural life in Vietnam?

We can see clear roles of foreign cultural centres in Vietnam, including Goethe Institute, British Council and French, South Korean and Japanese cultural centres in Vietnam

Through the cultural activities sponsored by these centres, Vietnamese people and artists can enjoy many new kinds of arts, even though some of them are still unfamiliar to Vietnamese taste.

Regarding the role of businessmen and businesses in cultural activities, I have to say that they have been playing a very active role, though I know some people think that businessmen only support cultural activities to polish their images and brand names.

Of course, businessmen set high requirements on artists. I mean they want to be sure that their money is used effectively to create high quality outcomes for culture.

In many cases, artists have very good ideas, but they cannot persuade businesses to spend money to sponsor their ideas, because not every businessman can understand culture well and is ready to spend their money. Why do you think Vietnamese businesses remain mostly indifferent to artistic activities in Vietnam?

I think that Vietnamese businessmen still focus on commercial outcomes when they sponsor cultural activities
Whether they sponsor cultural activities or not is decided by businesses themselves. However, the State should encourage businesses to reserve parts of their profit to fund cultural and artistic activities.

It is clear that Vietnam does not lack billionaires who can support culture and art. However, though they are ready to spend billions dong to purchase supercars, they are not ready to spend money on art. And Vietnamese painting auctions all take place in foreign countries…

It is regrettable that Vietnam’s painting market is still underdeveloped. I wish the domestic market could become stronger with the support of businesses and businessmen.

In other countries, domestic businesses play a very important role. The prices of Chinese paintings are very high, because Chinese businessmen are ready to pay millions of dollars to push the prices up in the world market

However, it seems that investment in culture is the most difficult kind of investment, because culture is something abstract and the investment in culture does not bring prompt effects.

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