Benitez: Digital transformation key to growth of country’s artists

Rep. Francisco Benitez (Neg . Occ., 3rd District) stressed the need for artists to embrace digital transformation as the way of the future and outlined legislative measures underway to enable culture and creative industries in the country to flourish.

Benitez was one of the speakers today, November 18, at the ongoing virtual Visayas Visual Arts Exhibition and Conference (VIVA ExCon), a Visayas-wide biennale.

Digital transformation is a growing imperative to survive and compete in a world that is becoming increasingly more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, Benitez said.

Benitez pointed out that digital technology will enable new forms of artistic and creative expression, bring creative content to broader markets, and enrich the consumer experience.

He also stressed the need to follow the example of South Korea, Japan, China and Singapore in cultivating their creative talent and cultural capital to fuel economic growth — from the graphic images of digital advertising to the art gallery and the museum.

Legislation has been slow to take full advantage of this shift in the global economy, but it is changing, Benitez assured.

With the help of people like Deputy House Speaker Loren Legarda, a staunch supporter of the culture and the arts, policy directions are being set and government agencies are catching up to the emergent needs of the Philippines to take advantage of these new conditions, he said.

To build this fertile ecosystem for creative industries to flourish, 45 members of the 18th Congress, including Legarda and himself, formed the Arts, Culture and Creative Industries Bloc, Benitez said.

The Bloc has conducted a series of consultations with cultural agencies and stakeholders in different creative industries to develop a legislative agenda that will facilitate growth and enhance the global competitiveness of the country’s creative industries, he said.

The Bloc has so far introduced, among many others, bills that seek to mainstream cultural mapping at the local government unit level to leverage local heritage and culture as a driver of tourism; and to provide incentives to international and local film productions, recognizing the potential of cinema in promoting Philippine tourist destinations to a global market, he said.

A bill has also been introduced to ensure protection of workers in the film and television industries, as well in the gig economy since many artists, artisans, content creators, or crew members work freelance, he added.

“The establishment of the Special Committee on the Creative Industries is a recognition of the need for legislation to push for the development of the creative economy in the Philippines, to best preserve and sustain our rich heritage, but also make sure the natural creativity of Filipinos flourishes for the benefit of all,” Benitez added.

Benitez said he also chaired the technical working group that consolidated bills establishing ICT hubs nationwide to serve as incubators of digital-creative start-ups.

“Harnessing our creative talent and cultural capital does not only serve our economic interests but preserves our rich cultural and artistic heritage for the next generations. Uploading our indigenous music, dance and designs to digital platforms will raise the interest of the youth and inspire pride in our heritage,” he added.

He said VIVA ExCon’s going virtual this year is a step in the right direction.*

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