Vietnam has now around 200 active creative cultural spaces, mainly in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The promotion of these activities online is expected to contribute to connecting new ideas, creating a healthy ecosystem for Vietnam’s creative spaces.

New direction from virtual activities

The creative cultural space is a gathering place for creative individuals to experiment with artistic and creative ideas and share their artwork with the community. In Vietnam, creative cultural spaces are often led and managed by artists and creative practitioners such as TPD Cinema Talent Support Centre, the Heritage Space,, VICAS Art Studio, Saigon Innovation Hub, and Da Nang Startup Support Centre DNES.

A creative cultural space is not necessarily a real place, but can exist and operate completely in cyberspace. In the context of the current epidemic, online activities have become a necessary direction for creative cultural spaces to continue to go forward. For example, the three-year creative cultural space project initiated by the British Council (since 2018, concluded on June 24, 2021) developed 17 online courses on different themes such as the construction practice of sponsorship dossiers and copyrights, arts archives in the digital age, and communications on the arts. The courses were open to a wide range of audiences, including managers of creative cultural spaces and creative practitioners. Different from the traditional forms of learning, online courses bring together more people from many different provinces and cities, thereby they can share, explore and experiment using many new ways and forms.

With the strong development in technology, besides online courses, creative cultural spaces can diversify their activities, from online seminars and talk shows to online exhibitions and concerts via social networks such as facebook and youtube.

Through the Vietnam creative cultural space, the British Council, in collaboration with the Vietnam National Institute of Culture and Arts Studies, developed the project “Mat Xam”. It was a series of multi-sensory experiences about Xam singing (ballads sung by wandering blind musicians) including a photo exhibition, experimental music and installation arts at the creative space VICAS Art Studio. Within the framework of this project, talk shows have been held online on youtube, attracting great public attention.

During the epidemic, the Da Nang Fine Arts Museum held two online exhibitions in September 2020 and late May 2021. Despite first steps, the virtual exhibitions have brought a new way of enjoyment to the public.

The organisation of activities via online spaces will be an effective channel that helps spreading cultural and creative entities more widely. Therefore, they should be maintained and extended not only during the epidemic period.

Supports on policies needed

In fact, creative cultural spaces are places that inspire artistic creativity in many people. In addition, these are cultural entities that can create attractiveness for the city. However, creative cultural spaces have not really received much attention and support, especially in terms of their policies.

However, recently, there have been positive signals for policymakers’ more attention to creative hubs so that Hanoi can take the creative element as the core towards the orientation of a creative city.

Regarding this issue, Assoc.Prof.Dr. Bui Hoai Son, Director of the Vietnam National Institute of Culture and Arts, said that when Hanoi takes creativity as the core of its development, all spaces being facilitated, including small ones.

According to Vu Thanh Binh, founder of the Blue Bird Nest café and cultural space, who has built and developed its Cua Bien (Sea Gate) cultural space both in Hanoi and northern portal city of Hai Phong, thanks to the support of many state agencies and units, the events were held smoothly.

Creative cultural spaces can be considered the first seeds of the creative industry. In order to help these “seeds” develop sustainably, in addition to the financial support of management agencies, the efforts of creative practitioners are necessary. Each creative cultural space needs to reach out and experiment with various forms of activities, especially the expansion of attractiveness for activities via online space.