Silence in the first half of the year

Early in the year when the Tet (Lunar New Year) Festival ended, the COVID-19 epidemic began its complicated outbreak in the country. Thereafter, a series of festivals and crowded activities were cancelled. Book launches, seminars, art performances, exhibitions and other cultural exchanges were also not possible.

In addition, during the social distancing period of COVID-19 prevention and control in March and April, popular entertainment activities such as film screenings, circus and puppetry performances and music shows were forced to postpone or cancel. At that time, culture, along with tourism, became one of “silent” fields and a worry of many artists.

In addition to domestic activities, various annual activities of foreign cultural agencies were also “frozen” during the first half of the year. “Europe Days”, “European Literature Days”, the European Documentary Film Festival, exchanges, film weeks, cultural weeks and national cultural days of many countries (such as Russia, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Italy, Germany and France) were cancelled or postponed.

Latent but exciting currents

During these difficult times, artists did not allow their creatvitybe “frozen”. Many new performances took place via social networks, personal pages, and youtube to connect and introduce products to the public. For example, singer Hong Nhung worked with musician Vu Quang Trung to introduce her latest song titled “Homeland needs sunshine” on her personal page in March as she stayed in the US and could not return home due to the epidemic. The hand-washing song “Ghen Co Vy”, created by the MoH’s National Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health (NIOEH) in collaboration with musician Khac Hung, singers Min and Erik, dancer Quang Dang, and Goodwill Ambassador Chau Bui, became a global phenomenon on epidemic prevention and control. Another version of the song “Vietnam” by Minh Beta also attracted a large audience.

Even folk music did not rest. The Ha Thanh Xam singing (ballads sung by wandering blind musicians) troupe, consisting of Mai Tuyet Hoa, Nguyen Quang Long, Van Phuong, Pham Trang, Pham Dung and Ngoc Xuan, launched a music video entitled “Tieu Diet Corona” (Destroying Corona) propagandising COVID-19 prevention and control while criticising those who lack awareness of epidemic prevention. Many other artists also responded to this artistic movementthrough their own creations.

In addition to freelance artists, many theatres and artists explored new ways to convey their art to audiences. Many artists from the Vietnam National Opera and Ballet Theatre (VNOB) posted their performances on the internet, receiving positive responses from viewers. They jointly made a short clip entitled “A day with VNOB’s artists and friends”, recording their activities at home during the social distancing period, especially rehearsals awaiting their return to the stage and audiences.

At the same time, the Vietnam Symphony Orchestra held its first online concert entitled “VNSO season opening concert” broadcast via facebook and youtube. The concert featured many famous works by well-known composers such as Holberg suite (Edvard Grieg), La Valse (Maurice Ravel), Symphony No. 9 From the new world (Antonin Dvorak). Many other theatres such as the Vietnam Cheo Theatre, Vietnam National Music Song and Dance Theatre and Thang Long Puppetry Theatre posted special excerpts and performances via their personal pages, contributing to encouraging people and frontline forces in particular in the fight against the epidemic while helping artists alleviate their longing for the stage and audiences.

Social responsibility

The epidemic, natural disasters, storms and floods caused serious damage and upset in daily life. However, this was the time when the social and civic responsibility of the artists were clear to see. Artists in all art forms and from all regions around the country have made great contributions to social works, notably during the COVID-19 outbreak and natural disasters. They mobilised donations of billions of Vietnamese dong as well as many objects needed to support the poor, the disadvantaged, frontline forces in the fight against the epidemicand people who suffered the consequences of continuous natural disasters in the central localities.

In addition to these donations, the artists made spiritual contributions through their artworks and creations, marking a special year while encouraging people to overcome their difficulties.

The art and cultural sector witnessed many challenges. However, facing the most arduous of difficulties, it has shown its role in inspiring society.