Vietnam/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.3 Cultural/creative industries: policies and programmes

The definition of cultural industries

The definition of cultural industries is new in Vietnam. It is usually understood to include the following:

  • Press,      television, radio broadcasting and internet;
  • Publishing and printing;
  • Film, video and photography;
  • Music, visual arts and performing arts;
  • Handicraft;
  • Fashion;
  • Software      and computer games.

Some issues of cultural industries in Vietnam:

  • In terms of awareness, central and local leaders have not recognised the significance of cultural industries to the development of the economy and culture and arts as shown in macro operating terms wherein they are not included in the economic structure and there is no national statistic system in place and there is a lack of strategic planning for cultural industries, such as developing intelligent technology and trade, especially in the culture and arts field.
  • Cultural industries have currently received reciprocal investments without emphasis on market oriented investment, especially in the field of state-subsidised cultural industries.
  • The private sector has made progress in some areas and at some stages of the process of creative production and cultural product distribution yet they all have limitation due to the weakness of the institutional framework.
  • Cultural industries in Vietnam have great potential for development, especially in the fields of traditional culture and arts and cultural diversity. However, there has been a question regarding commodification of products in this field.
  • Creative capability of artists and cultural and arts organisations in making products for the market and particular market segments is still limited; there is still no clear distinction between aesthetically artistic creativity and product creativity; staff tend to be old who are neither  trained nor updated about the recent trends and there is a lack of consistency in professional and international exchanges. There is also a lack of good and adequate equipment and financial support.
  • Lack of institutional framework for development due to inadequate awareness of the importance of cultural industries as well as the lack of internal association within the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, between the Ministry and other ministries such as the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Information and Communication.
  • There is a demand for international consultants to develop and implement institutional framework, to enhance organisational capability, to identify the development extent of each field and sector (cultural mapping), to implement city strategies (Hanoi, Hồ Chí Minh City) and to develop key organisations.

The main challenges to small and medium sized cultural industry companies:

  • Leadership—there is no clear leadership for sector development: individuals and departments deal with micro-elements of the sector (e.g. licensing, training etc.), without a holistic and structured approach that focusses on the overall growth, competitiveness, sustainability and value-added aspects of the sector.
  • Lack of genuine NGOs working in the sector—to provide leadership, knowledge and to organise/distribute resources.
  •  Excessive bureaucracy and opaque approaches to funding and financial management—which slows down investment, hinders planning, blocks flexibility and removes responsibility and accountability.
  • Censorship on the grounds of aesthetics or perceived cultural value—this stifles entrepreneurialism and dramatically reduces the growth potential of the cultural industries. It also invites decision-making based on personal taste and vested interests; is disincentive to innovation; and blocks diverse cultural expression. It also greatly reduces the potential to develop a distinctive, confident and connected cultural and creative economy in Vietnam.
  • The lack of a mixed economy for the cultural industries—with investment structured according to a “state subsidy” rather than “state investment” model. This blocks growth, reduces innovation and greatly reduces the value-added role of culture. There also seem to be a range of technical barriers to diversifying the business models of cultural organisations – —e.g. to develop commercial activities, attract philanthropic donations and develop membership schemes.
  • Weak/underdeveloped investment landscape overall—e.g. with retail banks, VCs and business angels and trusts/foundations.
  • Few and unclear tax incentives for investment in the cultural industries.
  •  Restrictions on advertising—making it difficult to grow and diversify audiences and markets.
  • Low levels of capacity, know-how and skills across the cultural industrieswith little creative education, the lack of targeted higher education to create “market ready” graduates, and little specialist business support for businesses.
  • Poor infrastructure—e.g. for film-making; low internet band-width; lack of specialist and up-to-date equipment in general.
  • Mass copyright infringement across the market—This limits the growth potential of certain activities, e.g. music, film, games and fashion.
  • Weak overall markets for high value cultural and creative goods and services—from the public and along the supply chain (e.g. in tourism). This means there is also a lack of quality, e.g. in tourism, manufacturing and services sectors.
  • Sector-specific issues—e.g. difficulty in obtaining a license for film locations, lack of quality in fashion showcasing, curfews for live music performance, and weak distribution of quality craft and design products.
  • Low levels of sector clustering and sector networks underdeveloped compared to other countries—with little overall sector organisation and coherent representation.
  • Lack of an innovative ecology overall including universities, businesses, organisations and government operating in the area of cultural exchange.

Chapter published: 30-11-2013