CCP's Lizaso optimistic on arts and culture under Marcos

Leah C. Salterio

Posted at Jun 30 2022 06:34 AM

Cultural Center of the Philippines president Arsenio “Nick” Lizaso. Kiko Cabuena
Cultural Center of the Philippines president Arsenio “Nick” Lizaso. Kiko Cabuena

“Make the arts matter to the Filipino.”

That is what Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) president Arsenio “Nick” Lizaso wants the coming administration and the new CCP president to do once the change of leadership happens on Thursday, June 30.

“I believe there will be continuity of thrust,” an optimistic Lizaso told ABS-CBN News. “Which means bringing the arts closer to the people and democratizing access to the arts.

“This direction was started under my watch. Unfortunately, the pandemic put everything on hold for at least two years. The next CCP president should regain the momentum and sustain it.”

Lizaso became CCP president in July 2017, as appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte. In January 2020, he also took on the role as chairman of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

He will not propose any change for the new president of the CCP. “I will not hazard to do so,” Lizaso said. “But whatever changes will be made, I hope they always refer to its original mandate: to make the arts matter to the Filipino.

“As I have written in an article, only the arts will save the Filipino soul. So let’s make the arts work for our kababayan.”

Lizaso also wants to see CCP receive more funding in the years to come. “Especially in training new artists and performers, as well as more funds to stage productions and underwrite the guesting of top-caliber performers from the world’s cultural capitals,” he explained.

“We also need funding for refurnishing, renovations, facilities improvement and new updated equipment. We can’t just rely on sponsors and patrons for funds.”

Although he is packing his bags and turning over his post to a leader who can usher in a new mandate for CCP, Lizaso believes the center still needs improvement after 50 years. The CCP marked its golden year in 2019.

“From my experience, there is too much politics,” Lizaso said. “We need CCP to be shielded from politicians, especially when its budget is held hostage to requests from those who hold the purse so to speak. The CCP must also not be made a venue for partisan activities.”

Lizaso believes new CCP projects can be given the greenlight by the new president. 

“CCP area development should be greenlighted soon,” Lizaso said. “We need to re-envision and re-imagine the CCP complex with a new design, state-of-the-art buildings and venues, great landscaping.

“We need a complex that can be at par with the iconic cultural centers in New York, Paris, Vienna and Sydney. If that is realized, the CCP complex will be one great tourist destination, aside from being our country’s pre-eminent cultural beacon.”

Lizaso expects to see another major Broadway production to be staged anew at the CCP, like “Miss Saigon” in 2002.

“That was part of my plan until the pandemic came,” he said. “We need theatrical spectacles once in a while. It breathes new life to our intrinsic love of theater and the performing arts.”

For the CCP’s 53rd year this 2022, an anniversary gala concert is in the offing come the anniversary month in September.

So, will former First Lady Imelda Marcos grace the CCP anew after more than three decades? 

“I’m sure she will get invited by the new management,” Lizaso said. “But this, of course, depends on the state of her health. We did invite her for dinner as part of our anniversary celebration [in 2019].”