Culture industries critical for national development face hurdles hinh anh 1Promoting the advanced culture deeply imbued with national identity lays foundation for Vietnam to build cultural industry into a pillar of the economy. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Hanoi (VNA) - Cultural industries need to be clearly protected and defined, and their significant roles in the national development promoted internationally, so revenues can become one of the pillars of economic growth, according to insiders.

At a National Cultural Conference held in November last year in Hanoi, Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong underlined the need to continue building, preserving and developing an advanced culture deeply imbued with national identity, making it a spiritual foundation and a motivation to light people’s path ahead.

Looking back on the achievements in building a national cultural identity over the years, especially in the 35 years since “Doi moi” (Renewal), culture has made great contributions to the national defense and construction.

He said the awareness of culture is more comprehensive and deeper in all fields, while cultural products have been more diverse.

Many traditional cultural values and national cultural heritages have been inherited, preserved and developed, he said. Culture in politics and in the economy has received greater attention. The cultural industry and cultural market have seen positive progress, while cultural exchange and international cooperation and integration have seen new developments, he noted.

Promoting the cultural values and the strength of Vietnamese people will help inspire a prosperous nation. It creates a synergy to tap opportunities and overcome challenges, thus successfully fulfilling the target of turning Vietnam into a socialist-oriented developed country in the middle of the 21st century.

However, the path is not always easy for artists in Vietnam to form and develop a true cultural industry.

Dreaming of an advanced art scene, painter Le Thiet Cuong established Gallery 39 – a not-for-profit art center– to help young artist better their skills towards developing an extensive and sustainable art in Vietnam.

Cuong said it was his bitter experience when his pottery business was stolen and copied overnight.

“When designs of pottery jars or plates are taken to the kiln, artist creations could easily be stolen. Seeing that the pottery sells well, a kiln owner will “borrow” the design and use it for mass production. This is only one among hundreds of “borrowed” design stories in Vietnam.

Sharing the same concern, Tran Mai Khanh, manager of Saturday Workshop in Hanoi, said creative products are an extremely valuable creation, but the fact is that they are easily stolen and copied in Vietnam.

Sometimes, creators and “borrowers” do not understand the critical impacts of this on the creative economy’s development, she stressed.

Culture industries critical for national development face hurdles hinh anh 2Painter Ta Huy Long introduces his art work at the Saturday Workshop. (Photo: VNA)

According to Khanh, the Saturday Workshop was created in the hopes of becoming a space that nurtures art talents to build a strong creative industry in Vietnam. However, right from the beginning, the workshop’s staff face formidable challenges in infrastructure, legal issues, and market confidence, while the COVID-19 pandemic forced a range of projects into cancellation.

She also pointed her finger to the inequality between Vietnamese cultural industries and foreign rivals, saying it is hard for domestic firms to compete with foreign over-the-top providers that do not face barriers such as content moderation and taxes.

Culture industries critical for national development face hurdles hinh anh 3A scene in “Bao ngam” – a made-in-Vietnam film (Photo courtesy of the film crew) 

Additionally, unfair competition exists between private businesses and state-owned firms. Private filmmakers struggle for funds and with market strategy to profit while state-owned agencies do not face the same revenue shortages.

Another barrier for made-in-Vietnam creations is that domestic customers prefer foreign products, and they, without hesitation, pay less to own a Vietnamese creation made by larger foreign companies.

“The inequality between domestic and foreign cultural firms also threatens development of Vietnam’s cultural industry”, Khanh said.

Meanwhile, Content Director of FPT Play Nguyen Thu Huong said foreign over-the-top service providers come into the Vietnamese market with large platforms like Netflix, WeTV, iQiYi which can be downloaded easily and free of charge.

Culture industries critical for national development face hurdles hinh anh 4HBO application on FPT Play platform (Source: VNA)

Having no representative offices in Vietnam, the foreign over-the-top service providers are not taxed and their content is not moderated, she added.

However, she expressed optimism that there is an increasing Vietnamese audience who prefer Vietnamese firms and TV shows. Sound cooperation between producers and over-the-top businesses will benefit both consumers and the businesses.

Intellectual property protection needed

Stressing the importance of intellectual property, painter Le Thiet Cuong said “No one wants to create if their works are not protected. If they stop creating, it means the end of the cultural industry as well”.

A cultural product is made from the artists’ grey matter, he said, adding creation costs should account for a larger proportion, not materials.

It is also difficult for artists to pay for brand building, copyright registration, and marketing.

Culture industries critical for national development face hurdles hinh anh 5Painter Le Thiet Cuong at his exhibition in France (Photo: VNA)

Mai Khanh, meanwhile, said that it is necessary to complete a legal corridor for copyright and intellectual property so that creative works made-in-Vietnam could be paid properly and to help develop a large international market for sales./.