Dong Quang Vinh, a Vietnamese conductor born in 1984, recalls the awe of the audience when, at the age of 12, he finished playing the traditional music composition Xu so Mat troi moc (The Land of the Rising Sun) on flute in Japan. HN
Vinh was inspired to pursue his love of traditional music by the adulation of the Japanese audience that day, which also increased his adoration for and pride in his country's culture. He realized that the treasure trove of Vietnamese musical instruments is extremely rich and expressive, such as the gourd with a single string that can make many sounds, the k'ni that can imitate the human voice (the sound of a baby crying and a mother's lullaby to put the child to sleep), and the klong put, which is played by clapping the hands without touching them.
Vinh told The Hanoi Times that his love of traditional music inspired him and his fellow musicians to form Suc Song Moi (The New Vitality) - Vietnam's only bamboo ensemble that performs its own symphonically orchestrated repertoire using only bamboo musical instruments.
“We have toured the world and have been warmly welcomed by audiences everywhere. We sometimes talked with foreign audiences and overseas Vietnamese who shed tears when listening to traditional music. They said that New Vitality's songs were both familiar and strange. Some people asked to hear some pieces of music that make them cry again,” Vinh said.
The language of music transcends boundaries. We play classical music from Vietnam and the world using traditional folk instruments. It is an effective way to introduce the country's culture," he added.
Music lovers have recently witnessed the rise of the song See Tinh from Hoang Thuy Linh's fourth album composed by DTAP. Although it has been released for over a year, the song's allure has not faded. It has spread to many Asian countries such as Thailand, China and Korea, and many celebrities such as Psy, Choi Yena, members of Super Junior, Exo Astro and Treasure have danced to the song's beautiful melody.
Vinh and Linh are among the young Vietnamese artists who have taken Vietnamese culture beyond its borders and achieved success. The number of Vietnamese products reaching international audiences is still modest, but these successes are seen as a good omen for Vietnamese music and young artists, showing that with more support they would catch up with world music trends and better promote Vietnam through cultural products.
Performing arts is one of the 12 sub-sectors identified in the National Strategy for the Development of Cultural Industries in Vietnam to 2020, with a vision to 2030. Others are cinema; publishing; fashion; fine arts, photography, and exhibitions; television and radio; cultural tourism; advertising; architecture; software and games; and traditional handicrafts.
These sub-sectors are set to become critical service-economic areas, making active and effective contributions to the country's socioeconomic development.
Historically, culture was seen as a field that benefited people's spiritual lives. Today, culture is seen as a field that contributes to economic growth, with a growing contribution to GDP. So what is the culture industry? Have we realized the value of this "jewel" and given it the care it deserves to shine?
Nguyen Thi Quy Phuong, former deputy director of the Institute of Journalism and Communication Studies, said that every country has a culture, but not every country has a cultural industry.
“We are talking about a cultural industry whose concept is vague,” Phuong said.
UNESCO defines cultural and creative industries as: “Sectors of organized activity whose principal purpose is the production or reproduction, promotion, distribution and/or commercialization of goods, services, and activities of a cultural, artistic or heritage-related nature.”
According to a report by UNESCO in February 2022, cultural and creative industries accounted for 3.1% of the global gross domestic product and 6.2% of global employment in 2020. That year, the Covid-19 pandemic posed unprecedented challenges to this market. Overall, it was estimated that the cultural and creative industries worldwide lost around US$750 billion in gross value added (GVA) and 10 million jobs in 2020 due to the pandemic.
These figures show that the cultural industry is currently the cash cow in many countries, and the goal of developing the cultural industry into a spearhead economic sector will be a direction of Vietnam in line with the world trend.
Hanoi is the first city in Vietnam to issue a resolution on the development of cultural industries, demonstrating the determination of the people and authorities of Hanoi to promote cultural values as an economic spearhead.
Speaking about Hanoi's potential and resources, Secretary of Hanoi Party Committee Dinh Tien Dung said that Hanoi is the capital of a thousand years of civilization, an important cultural center of the country, a place of convergence and civilized values of the nation and a place of integration of the cultural quintessence of mankind.
To sustainably promote the development of Hanoi's culture and people and to meet the requirements of international integration, the Hanoi City Party Committee has just issued a resolution on "Development of the Capital's Cultural Industry in 2021-2025, Orientation to 2030, Vision to 2045".
Secretary of the Hanoi Party Committee Dinh Tien Dung said that the Hanoi Party Committee has decided that the development of the cultural industry should be integrated and based on the development of Vietnamese culture and people in general and the capital city in particular. This is a condition for maximizing cultural and human resources and creating endogenous strength, an important driving force for Hanoi's sustainable development.
"The development of the cultural industry is a priority in the socio-economic development strategy, with the goal of becoming a spearhead economic sector, effectively contributing to GDP growth, and generating more jobs and income. The cultural industry will motivate the development of other industries and fields, contributing to the goal of rapid and sustainable development of the capital," Dung said.
He pointed out that the development of cultural industries will be based on the principle of ensuring harmony between preservation and development and will fully utilize the potentials, strengths, and traditional cultural values that make up the identity of the thousand-year-old capital.
The Hanoi Party Committee will focus on investing in the development of a number of potential and advantageous fields, such as cultural tourism; performing arts; handicrafts; design; advertising; fine arts, photography and exhibitions; film; fashion; cuisine; software and entertainment games; television and radio; publishing...
Specifically, by 2025, the capital's cultural industry will become a major economic sector, creating a new driving force for economic, cultural and social development. By 2030, the capital's cultural industry will basically become a spearhead economic sector, strongly promoting the development of other industries and fields. The revenue of the cultural industry would increase year by year, with the goal of contributing about 8% to the city's gross regional domestic product.
By 2045, the capital's cultural industry will be a leading economic sector, contributing about 10% of the city's GDP and to its comprehensive and sustainable economic, cultural and social development, making Hanoi the "Creative City" of Asia, a globally connected city, a large unique cultural and tourism center with high international competitiveness.
In particular, Hanoi will focus on building, developing and positioning the UNESCO "Creative City" brand through a series of specific measures such as: building a creative design center in Hanoi and creative spaces; organizing the annual Hanoi Creative Design Festival; and creating a network of young creative designers...
The Hanoi government has invested heavily in the development of cultural tourism. In 2022, the capital's tourism recovered strongly, with total revenue estimated at over VND60 trillion (US$2.6 billion), an increase of 5.3 times compared to 2021.
Hanoi has also implemented the cooperation plan with foreign regions and capitals such as Athens (Greece), Ile-de-France (France), Singapore, Korea, Australia, and other cities, bringing the total to over 100 regions and territories with cooperation ties with Hanoi.
To realize the ambitious plans, the Hanoi Government is focusing on building and developing human resources, fostering the development of the cultural industry, and gradually turning culture into a spearhead economic sector.
The city has defined that human resources are the main components of the cultural industry, which directly determines the branding process, quality and strength of the capital's cultural industry. Human resources, especially those of high quality, are considered one of the decisive factors for developing the capital's cultural industry.
Regulators and cultural researchers have pointed out that maximizing the power of human resources will contribute to the successful construction of the cultural industry.
Traditional performing arts such as cheo (operetta), cai luong (reformed theater), tuong (classic drama) are greatly influenced by current social development, which also affects the contingent of artists.
People's Artist Trung Hieu, Director of the Hanoi Drama Theater said that, at any stage of the cultural industry, the human factor always plays the preponderant role. Without adequate investment in human resources, the infrastructure system, though modern, cannot produce works of high artistic quality.
Hieu wishes young artists to be facilitated to learn from and absorb the cultural quintessence in countries with modern cultural industries, to be part of the East-West cultural integration, to develop the cultural industry, and to bring the country's art to the world.
Since becoming a member of UNESCO's Creative Cities Network, Hanoi has always stimulated the creativity of young people. This is a dynamic and enthusiastic force full of new and unique ideas.
In fact, young people are both beneficiaries of cultural values and pioneers in advancing the cultural industry, contributing to its creation of innovative products and new ways of approaching markets.
According to cultural experts, unleashing people's potential and career orientation is a mission of education.
Vietnam has devised a strategy for industrialization based on promotion-education-cultural positioning. Man is the subject and the driving force of all social activities, including work and creativity. Therefore, to develop a sustainable cultural industry, it’s necessary to start with children who are educated, career-oriented, connected to society to be ready for the future.
Professor Chu Cam Tho of the Vietnam Institute of Education Sciences affirmed that an innovative education ecosystem is a solution to integrate the goals of education, career and cultural industry development.
This requires the proactive responsibility of professional organizations, enterprises, researchers, experts, and artists in the cultural industry to coordinate with schools and the education sector to build a proper creative education ecosystem.
Meritorious artist Duong Minh Anh, Rector of Hanoi Art College, shared that the capital has six professional art enterprises and only one professional art training institution.
These units are the official creative space to discover, nurture, cultivate, and develop talents and open opportunities for young artists.
At present, Hanoi Art College also aims to become a pioneer in creative education to train creative citizens of the capital.
Rector Anh affirmed that it is necessary to have appropriate policies to discover, cultivate, and train talents, as human resources are the most important factor in developing the capital's cultural industry.