Performing arts boost tourism

According to UNESCO experts, the performing arts play a crucial role in enhancing cultural exchanges and boosting tourism in Hanoi.

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The Hanoi Water Puppet Show has left an indelible impression on Professor Israfil Shaheen of Dhaka University’s Department of Theatre and Performance Studies.

Shaheen, who was part of the international delegation attending the inaugural World Performing Arts Festival in Phan Thiet City, Vietnam’s central province of Binh Thuan from December 8 to 10, will provide recommendations to Hanoi’s arts authorities on leveraging performing arts for tourism development. He gained inspiration from the capital’s art programs.

Building on the festival’s success, Shaheen and foreign experts gathered in Hanoi to explore ways of transforming performing arts into a tourism product. They also visited popular tourist attractions such as St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple, and a 300-year-old banyan tree. Moreover, they enjoyed water puppet and Legend of Youth performances at the Vietnam Women’s Museum.

 International experts in Hanoi discuss solutions to boost local performing arts. Photo: Minh Giang/The Hanoi Times

Colombian actor and producer Alvaro A. Franco R expressed his admiration for Vietnam’s rich cultural and artistic life, with festivals like this providing an opportunity to showcase its diverse heritage to the world.

Director Le Quy Duong played a crucial role in establishing Vietnam’s unique festival brands, promoting the tourism industry, and selectively introducing the country’s cultural and artistic heritage to the world. Duong envisioned Vietnam becoming a global destination for performing arts, rather than just Europe, America, Japan, or South Korea.

He emphasized that festivals serve as a space for all cultures and performing arts to create new artistic works and cultural values. Through meetings in Binh Thuan and Hanoi, Duong hoped to facilitate exchanges, mutual understanding, and collaboration among local and foreign experts in producing innovative art.

Professor Israfil Shaheen highly praised the water puppet show, which he felt represented rural Vietnam and reminded him of his home country, Bangladesh. He commended the artists’ puppet manipulation skills, creative presentation style, and sense of fun.

Shaheen noted that Vietnamese traditional performing arts are simple, imaginative, and energetic, characterized by rhythm, music, dance movements, choreography, and colorful costumes. He suggested that performing arts be promoted in tourism activities, showcasing the talent of artists from remote villages in cities and tourist destinations, with support from the government and relevant stakeholders.

German educator Christine Schmalor emphasized the role of arts education in shaping tastes and creating a generation of potential artists and future art audiences. She suggested that performing arts should be included in the school curriculum, providing students with opportunities for practice, not just observation.

 Vietnamese puppetry is showcased at the first World Performing Arts Festival. Photo: An Khang Media

The World Performing Arts Festival, initiated by director Le Quy Duong, the president of the UNESCO International Theatre Institute’s Festival and Collaborative Theatre Committee (FACT), aims to foster meaningful dialogues and friendships. According to World Theatre Ambassador Lemi Ponifasio, the festival prompts communities, societies, cultures, nations, and creatures to question their identities and find paths forward. Ponifasio also believes that the festival creates opportunities for insights from the past and present to shape a more compassionate and understanding world.

 World Theatre Ambassador Lemi Ponifasio said that an arts festival is a commitment that initiates and sustains meaningful dialogues and friendships.

ITI Director General Prof. Tobias Biancone hailed the festival as a model for bringing performing arts to indigenous communities worldwide. The festival fosters meaningful exchanges, sharing of knowledge, and practical experiences among artists, regardless of cultural or geographical differences, with the ultimate goal of peace, solidarity, and prosperity.