Where is art headed in 2019?

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BUSINESSWORLD asked some of the country’s artists, and art champions about their outlook for Philippine culture and arts for this year (and beyond). The answers were as varied as their practices.

“I look forward that we continue to grow and become diverse and to focus more on our cultural identity and how to cultivate its content and history. We should not only focus on form and physical beauty of an artwork and its commercial value.” — Jojo Austria, a visual artist based in the USA

“The direction of art is more collective, collaborative, and communal. This direction is more sustainable, developmental, and progressive.” — Renato Habulan, artist, curator, and educator

Naniniwala ako na ang artist ay mayroong malaking responsibilidad sa kanyang kapaligiran, maging ito ay sa politikal, ekonomiya o mga social problems. Bukod sa pagbibigay ng aliw, gaya ng isang pinta o disenyo ng mga bagay at inspirasyon, ang mga artists ay dapat maging kritikal at sensitibo sa bawat bagay at malasakit upang buhayin ang diwa ng mamayan para sa pagsusulong ng bawat bansa sa pamamagitan ng sining. Bagamat sa panahon ngayon ng kalakaran sa art scene sa Pilipinas nakikita natin na maganda ang responde ng mga kolektor maging ang appreciation [nang] mga tao sa mga art exhibit, lalo na sa mga art fairs, malaki man o maliit, pero sana wag laging itrato na ang art ay for investment. Ang 2019 ay napakahalagang taon upang tayo ay magbuklod magkaisa at magtulungan upang baguhin ang sistema sa pamamagitan ng pagpapahayag ng ating saloobin lalo na sa politika at pagpapahalaga sa likas yaman ng bansa. (I believe that the artist has a big responsibility to his surroundings, be it political, economic, or social problems. Aside from giving comfort, like a painting or design of an object, and inspiration, artists should be critical and sensitive to each thing and be compassionate in order to raise the spirit of the people for the promotion of every country through art. Although today’s trend in the Philippine art scene we can see that the collectors respond well and even appreciation [of] people in art exhibits, especially in art fairs, big or small, but hopefully they will not always treat art as for investment. 2019 is a very important year for us to unite and work together to change the system by expressing our attitude especially in politics and appreciation of the country’s natural resources.)” — Thomas Daquioag, artist and art educator

“Philippine Art will evolve and expand all over the world no matter what the political situation is. Actually, it has been [at] a time of great repression that the artist has worked freely without having to think of the commercial benefit as an allure. We have particularly gone all over Southeast Asia and some artists even venture in Europe, America and Australia. Our artists have been asked to exhibit in Biennales and other major exhibitions. At present, the Internet plays such a huge part in the exchange of dialogue and the dissemination of information and with that, I believe that Philippine Art will progress in the years to come.” — Silvana Diaz, art enthusiast, collector, and gallery owner

“[Tanghalang Pilipino] will forever be committed to doing Theater, in the form of productions and training programs, that highlight the immense artistry, historical and contemporary sociocultural and educational value of the diverse Philippine Theater genres, even as we continue to acknowledge the timeless value of world theater arts… TP is not digressing from its original vision-mission of using theater as an instrument for developing a humanistic Philippine arts and culture program by proudly promoting the artistic excellence of our Filipino artists-playwrights, directors, actors, designer, musicians, dancers; using theater for cultural education and promoting the richness of our cultural heritage and therefore enhancing our sense of national identity; promoting the viability of theater as a creative industry; and promoting theater arts as a cultural form that has a universal humanistic value.” — Fernando “Tata Nanding” Josef, Tanghalang Pilipino artistic director

“For 2019, we are expecting an avalanche of creative expressions from the seven fields of art. In theater, there will be the newbie one-time producer, indie groups, school-based, to the tried and tested companies with many decades of experiences all vying for an audience for their own brand of genre which would supposedly transpose into sales. Revenues generated by various theater groups are not made available to the general public — that is why no one really knows if they a profit or simply lose [money] and vanish. Be it a straight play or a musical aimed for children and adults, there is an array of choices for the picking — but this will really all boil down with a theater buff’s pocket if it can hold till the next paycheck and the next and the next. In a month, like come February, there is an expected 10-12 productions that will open. Economics will rationalize one’s decision if he could and can opt to spend his extra pesos on a theater treat. But for how many can it translate to affordability if more equally exciting shows are due to be unveiled in March, April, and up until December?”

“Theater has to survive. With funds, of course. The art of selling a specific production always pose as a challenge for the marketing and sales team… It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there because financial resources are simply fewer in terms of corporate support. It’s the least of their priorities. The unnamed philanthropists will or should come in and help the industry to keep going…”

“In dance, with it’s very restricted audience, the challenges are even much harder to cope [with] relative to budget. Productions have been cut — from the usual average of six and reduced to three at the very least.”

“For the visual arts community, the scope is much larger… because of the various modes of expression each artist churns [out] for their buyer or a collector… Over the past decade, many new artists came to fore and a new generation of buyers also made the scenario buzz as to who would be the best to invest their money with [an eye to] future payback. That’s commercialism vs. art.”

“In film, there is a renaissance of more thought-out and well-crafted genres that either spell millions in ticket sales or the other side of the pendulum.”

“For sociopolitical reasons in the seven fields of art — specially with this year’s elections — there will be bolder, [more] up front, in-your-face satires, parodies, or socio-realism that will bring added color to the norm. Expect this to happen from the artists who painstakingly translate their ideals into their work of art: theater, dance, song or poetry, literature, visual or sculpture, film or photography. Philippine arts and culture this year is going to be so alive, noisy, empowering, and conscious of the specific market they shall serve. And here’s hoping that corporations can extend at least financial support to the artists whose love, passion and dedication is unquestionably the best. Yes, it’s going to be an entertainment, but it will spell relevance.” — Joselito “Toots” Tolentino, art enthusiast and publicist

Maki-Improv, Huwag Matakot! is just a small and young group, and we are not yet that influential in the scene, so I don’t know if we can talk on behalf of the improv community. But Maki is committed to creating art that is fun but at the same time has politically charged commentary. Many artists right now are becoming more political, and that has always been the role of artists. It is a very important role, especially with the upcoming elections. When we speak our truth, we will inevitably encourage others to voice out theirs, and that chorus of voices can become a game changer, [especially] in the [upcoming] elections. At the Manila Improv Festival on March 27 to 31, Maki is one of the many improv groups from all over the world who will perform at the PETA Theater Center. Our show’s theme is ‘elections.’…. We hope our show sparks discussion, and we hope that it will inspire people to go out and vote.” — Jasmine Cruz, president and co-founder of Maki-Improv