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Laos mulls development of cultural industries

Laos needs takes to steps to develop its cultural industries by making use of the unique traditions of the country’s 49 recognised ethnic groups to help drive the country’s development and promote its culture.

The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, working in collaboration with Unesco, opened the two-day ‘National Consultation on Cultural Industries in Laos and Validation Workshop,’ in Vientiane yesterday.

Mr Bouangeun Xaphouvong.

Mr Bouangeun Xaphouvong.

The objective of the workshop is to analyse the 2010 Baseline Study to forge ahead with Laos’ cultural industry ambitions.

Deputy Minister Mr Bouangeun Saphouvong delivered the opening remarks, before giving the floor over to speakers who presented the initial findings of a study on cultural industries and related documents, aiming to give an overview of the cultural industry. This was followed by a discussion session.

Discussion topics include identifying and adopting what lessons were leant from the initial study report that can be made use of in Laos and identifying priorities in terms of developing cultural industries in the country.

Mr Bouangeun said he believed the workshop would create a proper understanding among participants of the concept of cultural industry so they can make use of the lessons learned in developing the initiative in Laos.
Cultural industry development is a new thing for Laos,” Mr Bouangeun told the workshop participants.

The workshop is being attended by representatives from the ministry, the Unesco regional office based in Bangkok, and some foreign embassies to Laos including France and the Republic of Korea, whose countries are well recognised for their success in developing their cultural industries.

Laos is rich in cultures and traditions, Mr Bouangeun added, and has untapped potential to develop its cultural industries to drive economic growth and contribute to attaining the government’s goal to remove Laos from the list of least developed countries by 2020.

“Having 49 ethnic groups means Laos has 49 different rich cultures. To make culture one of the drivers of national economic development is to make culture become a cultural industry,” he told the workshop.

To reach the government’s target of graduating from least developed country status by 2020 towards gradually becoming an industrial country, Mr Bouangeun reiterated the need to also realise the country’s cultural industry ambitions.

“Developing our cultural industries will make our culture more diverse and modern, which will also enable our culture to contribute to national socio-economic development,” he said.

Head of the Culture Unit in the Unesco Bangkok office, Dr Tim Curtis, agreed that Laos is rich in culture. He stressed that the diverse cultures of the 49 ethnic groups and their traditions is a great asset as it creates unique cultural products and carries economic potential.

“Cultural industries are already proving to be strong assets and helping poverty alleviation in many countries,” he said, adding that it significantly contributes to income generation and job creation and represents over 10 percent of the gross domestic product of several Asian countries.

Director General of the ministry’s Fine Arts Department, Dr Bounthieng Siliphaphan, said it would take time to develop cultural industries in Laos, citing the experience of the Republic of Korea. The country is recognised as being successful in developing its cultural industries, but Korea spent more than ten years in the preparatory stage before achieving its current success.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update March 21, 2013)