The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) is shutting down all of its arts and rehearsal venues for the rest of the year and shifting its usually well-attended Virgin Labfest theater and Cinemalaya indie-film festivals into online platforms in the wake of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
CCP has also canceled its outreach activities, including bringing the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra to the provinces to perform before crowds.
Loss of revenues because of the shuttering of CCP venues and cancelation of productions as a result of the quarantine that started mid-March has been P90 million so far, CCP officials said.
Audiences affected are from 800,000 to one million.
The enhanced community quarantine has also resulted in the “enormous loss of livelihood” of artists and cultural workers, 90 percent of whom are “freelancers.”
In the CCP alone, some 3,000 workers hired for productions have been affected. This does not count the workers of subcontracted services such as catering and cleaning.
In a press conference via Zoom on April 29, CCP artistic director and vice president Chris Millado said nearly all of the programs of the CCP and its resident companies had been set aside for this year, including capping its 50th anniversary celebration this September.
All of the canceled programs have been “realigned,” said Millado.
“The CCP is realigning its artistic programs with the goal of protecting lives and livelihoods while continuing to deliver educational and inspiring content to Filipinos on alternative platforms,” he explained.
Part of the realigining is the “Live on Arts” program which will be piloted this June with the annual Virgin Labfest, the very popular festival of original or experimental contemporary drama materials.
“Virgin Labfest (will be) a pilot activity for retooling and upgrading of skills artists and production staff for online production and delivery,” said Millado.
Cinemalaya, the first and most successful festival of independent films in the country, will not have a main competition of feature films this year, Millado said
Only the short-film program will be mounted. The entries will be especially curated and streamed online.
Fringe activities may include web seminars on filmmaking and cinema currents as well as a dramatic reading by top actors and performers of screenplays of the feature-film finalists of the canceled main competition, said Millado.
CCP position paper
Earlier in the press conference, Margie Moran-Floirendo, chair of the CCP board of trustees, said the CCP budget this year had been reduced by 45 percent because of belt-tightening ordered by the government across the board.
Asked about President Duterte’s remarks that government might be forced to sell the CCP complex because of the financial and economic losses caused by COVID-19, Moran-Floirendo said the CCP board had discussed it.
She said the CCP was set to make a position paper, but had been reassured by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez there was no need to sell state assets at this time.
Millado said based on a study by the Department of Trade and Industry, the arts and entertainment sectors were the most affected by the pandemic.
“Those sectors that require face-to-face and large gatherings are the most affected,” he said. This would mean that those involved in “live arts and events needing large gatherings will have a slow recovery.”
“So we are looking at digital arts, which are potentially low impact and (affording the) fastest recovery,” explained Millado.
He said CCP had already “rolled out the recovery program this April.”
“Under Arts and Culture Online,” the CCP vice president and artistic editor explained, “the video streaming of archival recordings, HD (high-definition), edited recordings was rolled out in early April.
“In the works are the Time Capsule to Document the Arts in the Time of COVID-19 and Virtual Reality galleries and museum.”
“The CCP will seek partnerships and collaboration for education, fundraising and communication,” said Millado.
“Also, the CCP will offer its online resources to supplement home schooling.”
Millado said the CCP would also carry out an Arts for Therapy program, a “post-traumatic” program to heal those who might have been psychologically affected by the pandemic.
“(It) will develop and implement modules on Arts for Mental Wellness and pursue Arts for Healing activities such as pocket concerts of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and PPO-at-your bedside events,” he said.
“PPO-at-your-bedside” will be piloted at the Philippine General Hospital where PPO instrumentalists will play soothing music for patients and health front-liners, said Millado.
CCP will likewise undertake a “capacity bulding program” to provide training modules so as to upgrade skills of artists and cultural workers in art therapy and online technology.
“COVID-19 continues to impact all aspects of people’s lives. With quarantine, social distancing and lockdowns, the arts and culture sector has suffered from cancelation of shows and events and closure of venues,” said Millado. “With the realignment of its programs, CCP hopes to build on its strengths and keep true to its mission of making arts matter to the lives of Filipinos.” INQ