It can be seen that the accurate identification of the role of this special resource is still problematic. Associate Professor and Dr. Bui Hoai Son, Deputy Director of the Vietnam Institute of Culture and Art Studies, granted an interview with Nhan Dan Weekly to share his opinions on the identification of culture.
Obstacles in identification
Q: Could you explain why the identification of cultural resources that have significance in the culture’s development have only been officially mentioned in recent times?
A: The limitation in understanding the conception of culture is the reason why relevant agencies have not yet focused on exploiting culutral resources. For a very long time, many people thought that culture is a very complicated concept. They considered it as the values of the ethics and lifestyle as well as truth, goodness and beauty. The identification of culture as a product, which has been popular around the world, was not encouraged and appreciated in Vietnam, even when it was listed in products in need of special treatment.
Therefore, when discussing the marketisation of culture, experts have engaged in numerous severe disputes. In fact, many countries realised that the culture should follow the regulation of supply-demand of the market economy under aspecial logic and way. They said that culture must be a product to meet the needs of the society, so that it can develop. That is why UNESCO launched a convention on protecting and promoting the diverse expressions of culture in 2005 and reviewed this concept in 2015.
Q: In your opinion, what role do resources from the culture play in society’s development?
A: Resources from the culture are playing an increasingly important role in today’s society, towards sustainable development goals. The trend of the modern world has shown that products imbued with cultural identities and highlighted with particular creativitity have higher value than mass-produced products.
Cultural features tend to be integrated into products and goods during their brand positioning process. According to the statistics of many countries, resources from culture, including cultural and arts products and cultural tourism, contributed around 8%-10% of their gross domestic product (GDP).
In Vietnam, the lack of statistical data related to the cultural sector is now a pressing issue. In fact, culture has made great contributions to the country’s socio-economic development; however, the Statistics General Department has not pointed out specific indicators for the sector’s contributions to the country. Realising culture’s contributions, relevant agencies and people can understand its importance as well as assess its development status to enhance investment into this field.
Policies in need of adjustment
Q: Has the delay in identifying cultural resources caused negative impacts on development?
A: The limitation in understanding and identifying cultural resources has adversely impacted on investment in the cultural field and limited the efficiency of the revenues from the cultural market, meaning the promotion of the image of the country to the world failed to fulfilthe nation’s potential.
For example, current mechanisms cannot create motivation for investors because they have not seen the benefits from their investment in culture. The specific characteristics of this special field required specific mechanisms and policies; however, Vietnamese law system has not had specific priorities and incentives for investment activities in the culture.
Q: So, in order to effectively exploit the cultural resources, it is firstly essential to complete the policies and regulations of the law?
A:The movement of the life is always more diverse than policies. From the perspective of culutral workers, agencies can understand the importance of specific policies and regulations. For example, creative spaces were established for artists and young people to create and test new initatives. These tests can be successful but can fail, so the operation of creative spaces cannot be considered as normal business activities. However, only one successful initiative will create a new development trend, bringing numerous valuable benefits for the region and the country.
Many people said that the State invests in any field for benefits and results. However, in the cultural and creative field, it might take many years, even five or ten, to calculate these benefits, and sometimes the investors have to face failures. We have to accept that fact.
Q: Cultural products need to be unique, creative and different. However, in several traditional festivals, objectionable behaviour and activities have happened in recent years. What do you think about that?
A: Festivals are the traditional activities of localities as well as values of the history, helping regulate relations in the society. However, currently, numerous shortcomings exist in traditional festivals. For example, many localities and communities want to earn benefits from the organisation of traditional events, so they tried to satisfy the visitors’ demand while ignoring traditional rules on the time and place for the organisation. In addition, visitors do not care much about the values of festivals and events, but want merely to be satisfied their curiosity.
However, I believe that policies will be soon adjusted in line with development rules and public awareness will be raised in order to identify the true value of the culture.
Thank you very much!
Associate Professor, Dr. Bui Hoai Son