September 27, 2021

Bicol Express News

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Naga artists group wants Arts & Culture office separate from Tourism

Photo from FB

Artists in Naga City, Camarines Sur are petitioning the City Government to set up an office to address the needs and concerns of the arts and culture sector.

The artists said the City maintains an Art, Culture, and Tourism Office (ACTO) which focuses more on tourism, that in the long term, has neglected the arts and culture sector.

“Petition for new Arts and Culture Office”

A petition is going the round to establish a “dedicated office for the rights, welfare, and well-being of the arts and culture sector and creative industry in Naga City.

The arts and culture sector, Naga City’s creative community, including musicians and music producers, have always been at the side-lines of governance.

Though this sector brings much joy and inspiration to the economic well-being of the City, much has to be done to include this sector in concerns of governance.

“City Government leadership neglects artists concerns”

“We have been calling on the LGU, the ACTO to be specific, to set a meeting or consultation for artists’ rights and welfare. REAL consultation that is, and not just a token meeting meant to appease an already angry community,” the artist group made known its grievances.

“We communicated our concerns in our past audience with ACTO and Mayor Nelson Legacion. But none of the concerns identified and proposed solutions were even considered for action.”

” If it were not for the unity generated by the petition for immediate aid to musicians-in-need, the City Social Welfare Office wouldn’t be mobilized to release food packs to help alleviate the situation.”

“Artists protest”

The City’s Arts & Culture sector is up in arms and in protest on the ineptness of ACTO.

“We have proposed in the past that the ACTO quickly assemble the Arts & Culture council of the City so that representation can be made, grievances can have a venue, and solutions can be created,” the group said.

“But today, we see that a separate office dedicated to the rights, welfare, and well-being of the sector and industry is better, if not the BEST solution.”

“For Tourism Only!”

According to the group, ACTO chief Alec Santos has his focus on Tourism since time immemorial and never for the arts & culture sector.

Most of his response for the sector is knee-jerk reactions to our petitions, but always zero when asked if the ACTO has real long-term programs for the sector.

It is a known fact that ACTO does not have any program for building capacity of the sector, for emergency relief, for social aid to indigents.

Does his initiatives related to tourism work well with the objectives of City to develop the tourism industry? We don’t know. But definitely it did not contribute to sustainability, stability, and growth of the arts & culture community.

“Big City budget, No Budget for artists welfare”

Last January, the Naga City Government proudly reported that it has Php 1,419,588,072 as budget for 2021.

But even the City’s rundown of the budget clearly show that there are no allotments for immediate aid to artists affected by the pandemic.

Not to mention that the Php 145.72 Million allotted for Urban Development which includes Arts, Culture, and Tourism did not have any allotment for actual programs related to arts & culture.

ACTO’s own Php 3 Million for operational expenses merely address the salaries and operations of the office and NONE again, for programs.

“Arts and culture community needs intervention”

As we have articulated over and over and over: development of tourism does not necessarily contribute to addressing the needs, welfare, and flourishing of the arts & culture community.

The arts & culture sector is more than just eye candy, we keep reminding that this sector contributes to the soul and spirit of the city.

“Artists’ demands”

In concerns of arts & culture, ACTO has got to go.

Let concerns of tourism remain in the existing ACTO office headed by Alec Santos.

“Let us strengthen Naga City’s arts & culture community by establishing a new, more compassionate, and progressive office.”

“We officially propose this separation of stewardship of arts & culture from the tourism office to the City Government of Naga.