CCP chair urges artists to innovate to survive pandemic

Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 04 2020 04:05 PM


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MANILA -- The lights have dimmed and the curtains have dropped on the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) but its chairman, former Miss Universe Margarita Floirendo, is not letting the pandemic rain on her parade of solutions to keep the cultural institution afloat. 

Floirendo is a great believer in the resilience of the artistic community. "Artists are creative thinkers. They can think out of the box. This is a time to innovate!" she told ABS-CBN News.

And even if artists are struggling to get their jobless benefits from a mandated amelioration program of the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA), Floirendo is redirecting CCP's efforts to sustain its coffers and provide a dignified income for artists. 

“There will be no season this year for resident companies. They will have to be able to innovate by using new platforms in performance. CCP does not have the budget for dole-outs. We are starting with productions that will be live-streamed and the production staff and actors will be paid. We are planning other activities to protect the livelihood of artists,” she said. 

The future seems bleak for arts and culture. By Floirendo's reckoning, the tourism and cultural sectors will be the last to recover from the economic fall out of the pandemic. 

But she sees the silver lining in the CCP's entry to the digital arena. 

One of the bigger innovations is to go online starting this month with previous acclaimed presentations like “Rama Hari” featuring Karylle and Christian Bautista, the Philippine Madrigal Singers' concert, and the Virgin Labfest entry “Hintayan sa Langit.”
“It’s for free for one week. It will soon be a pay for a digital performance in a couple of months We just did 'Alice (Reyes) and Friends,'” she said.

CCP vice president and artistic director Chris Millado, who was joined by Floirendo and other officers in a Zoom media conference, also talked about prioritizing CCP programs, particularly Arts and Culture Online (video streaming of archival recordings); a time capsule to document the arts in the time of COVID-19; and virtual reality galleries and museums, seeking partnerships and collaboration for education, fundraising, and communication and offering its online resources to supplement home schooling.

There is also Live Arts on Lockdown, starting with the Virgin Labfest this June as a pilot activity for re-tooling artists and production staff for online production and deliver.

Under the Arts for Therapy program, they hope to develop and implement modules on the arts for mental wellness and pursue arts-for-healing activities such as pocket concerts of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO ) and training of artists and cultural workers in art therapy and online technology.

Through her interaction with other communities abroad, Floirendo feels the universal pain and struggle of artists. Theater is in a coma without the live audience and the applause. 

But this too shall pass and the stage will recover but Floirendo is trying to quicken the process by arming artists with new technology for their survival.