Party and State guidelines on building and fine-tuning institutions and policies as well as mobilizing resources for cultural development

Permanent Vice President of the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics
Thursday, March 7, 2024 09:48

Communist Review - While leading the Vietnamese revolution, the Communist Party of Vietnam and the State have adopted orientations, guidelines, and policies to promote cultural development. To meet new requirements, institutions and policies have constantly been fine-tuned to effectively mobilize resources for cultural development, contributing to national construction, development, and defense.

A palanquin procession held at Thuong Temple at the Hung Temple special national relic site as part of a ceremony marking the death anniversary of the Hung Kings in 2022 _Photo: VNA

The Communist Party of Vietnam’s viewpoints and orientation on building and fine-tuning cultural institutions

During the renewal process, the Communist Party of Vietnam defines culture as the spiritual foundation of society, serving as both a goal and a driving force for socio-economic development.

The 6th National Party Congress in 1986 stated, "The country should be governed by law, not just by morals. Law institutionalizes the Party's orientations, policies, and ideology, reflects the will of the people, and must be uniformly implemented nationwide."(1) Therefore, the cultural institution must adhere to the principles which ensure the Party’s leadership, the State’s management, and the people's mastery, and harness the creativity of cultural workers. The cultural institution should include mechanisms which ensure freedom and democracy in cultural activities, stimulate creativity, and create diverse products to meet the growing cultural needs of the public, contributing to improving the emotional lives of the people. The building and improvement of the cultural institution must closely follow and be compatible with political and economic institutions, and with real life situations. In the process of building a socialist-oriented market economy, the cultural institution must change accordingly. As a result, legal documents on culture, arts, and information have been fine-tuned in line with the market mechanism while policies encouraging cultural creativity and meeting the people's increasing cultural needs have been issued.

As Vietnam is intensifying international integration, the Party advocates the improvement of the legal system, mechanisms, and policies on culture, copyright, and related rights to align with international standards and the country’s specific conditions.

The 13th National Party Congress in 2021 affirmed that promoting the value of Vietnamese culture and the strength of the Vietnamese people serves as a crucial foundation, an internal resource, and a driving force for development. The Congress emphasized the importance of tightly and synchronously connecting the four core pillars for sustainable national development. "Socio-economic development is the center; Party building is the key; cultural development is the spiritual foundation; and ensuring national defense and security is the crucial and continual task."(2)

The Communist Party of Vietnam’s viewpoints and orientation on building and fine-tuning cultural policies

During the renewal period, the Party advocates "Improving policies for professional art workers, ensuring deserved treatment for artistic labor, encouraging creativity, and promoting talent. State agencies should coordinate with literature and art associations and other mass organizations  to promote the creativity of writers and artists, which should link with laborers. The state, together with the people, builds the necessary infrastructure and technical facilities for culture and arts, and preserves and renovates historical and cultural relics"(3). Cultural policies should encourage the proactiveness and creativity of entities involved in cultural activities, foster the building of infrastructure and technical facilities for cultural activities, and preserve cultural heritage.

The Party now aims to build and improve basic cultural policies. They include “economy in culture” policies and “culture in the economy” policies; policies on preserving and promoting national cultural heritage; policies to encourage innovation; specific policies for entities who need preferential treatment to participate in and enjoy culture; specific international cooperation policies; and specific policies for ethnic minorities. These policies aim to harmonize the relationship between economic and cultural development, taking into account the specific characteristics of culture and the arts. They encourage all entities to participate in cultural activities and to produce and exchange cultural products and services in order to better meet the cultural needs of the people, especially those who should be given preferential treatment. At the same time, they focus on preserving and promoting the value of cultural heritage in order to highlight national cultural identity, enhance cultural diversity, foster multilateral cultural exchanges and acculturation, and widely promote Vietnamese culture, while affirming the mettle, stature, and position of the Vietnamese nation during the international integration process.

The Communist Party of Vietnam’s viewpoints and orientation on mobilizing resources for cultural development

The most important component of cultural resources is people - the creators, disseminators, and beneficiaries of culture. The Communist Party of Vietnam consistently ensures freedom and democracy for all cultural and artistic activities, treasures cultural talents, takes care of the material and spiritual lives of artists, and encourages the civic responsibilities of artists and intellectuals.

The Party pays attention to developing and finalizing a contingent of leaders and managers in the cultural sector. This involves “building a strategy on developing a contingent of leaders with a focus on planning, training, fostering, and arranging leaders, managers, scientists holding management positions, experts, and cadres at the grassroots level in the cultural sector,”(4) “improving the leadership skills of cadres at all levels in line with the specific features and requirements of culture and art development,”(5) and “developing a contingent of leaders, managers, and advisors in the field of culture and the arts, especially key officials who genuinely understand culture and are competent to meet requirements and tasks."(6)

The Party advocates “facilitating conditions for the people to improve their aesthetic appreciation and artistic taste, become the creator of culture, and enjoy more cultural achievements.”(7) The Party has requested reviewing, consolidating, and improving cultural and art training institutions as well as modernizing training processes, content, and methods.

The Party promotes the idea that "the State and the people jointly develop culture,” encourages various forms of sponsorship, and enhances socialization to mobilize investment and donations for cultural and human development. First and foremost, the Party aims to increase investment in culture sourced from the state budget. “State investment in culture should match the level of economic development”(8). Localities are encouraged to increase resources for culture. All state investments must be transparent, effective, and focused, with priority given to mountain, border and island areas as well as to areas inhabited by ethnic minorities, and to traditional art forms that need preservation and promotion. The Party also encourages efforts to actively mobilize other resources for cultural development apart from the state budget.

State policies and laws on cultural development

The State has issued mechanisms, policies, and laws to solidify Party guidelines and orientations on cultural development, addressing the needs of the people and requirements for sustainable national development.

The State’s macro policies on cultural development are outlined in Article 60 of the 2013 Constitution:

1. The State and society shall care for the creation and development of an advanced Vietnamese culture that is deeply imbued with the national identity and has absorbed the cultural quintessence of mankind.

2. The State and society shall develop literature and the arts in order to meet the diverse and healthy spiritual needs of the people; and develop the mass media to meet the people’s demands for information and to serve national construction and defense.

3. The State and society shall create an environment for building prosperous, progressive and happy Vietnamese families, and endowing Vietnamese people with good health, cultural qualities, patriotism, a spirit of solidarity, and a sense of mastery and civic responsibility.

To build and develop an advanced Vietnamese culture imbued with national identity, and to improve the material and spiritual life of the people, the National Assembly has promulgated a number of laws including the Law on Intellectual Property, the Law on Cultural Heritage, the Law on Belief and Religion, the Law on Publication, the Press Law, the Law on Cinematography, the Law on Advertising, the Law on Tourism, the Law on Physical Training and Sports, the Library Law, the Education Law, and the Law on Science and Technology, among others. The Prime Minister has approved the Target Program on Cultural Development while numerous national target programs and cultural development strategies have been adopted, such as the target program on the preservation and renovation of landscape relics and the target program on building cultural life at the grassroots level.

These laws and policies aim to preserve and promote the traditional cultural values of the nation and absorb the cultural quintessence of humankind so as to develop a Vietnamese culture of “unity in diversity” characterized by “nation, humanity, democracy, and science.” They are also crafted to improve people’s character and promote human development in service of cultural development, toward the goal of building a powerful, prosperous, and happy country. Recognizing the importance of the national cultural heritage in sustainable development and international integration, State policies on cultural heritage have been unceasingly improved. The Law on Cultural Heritage with 4 chapters and 74 articles was promulgated by the National Assembly in 2001. 20 articles were amended under a National Assembly resolution adopted in 2009. The Government has also issued various decrees on managing and safeguarding national cultural heritage.

Many programs, projects, and strategies have been implemented. They include the Project on the Preservation and Development of the Culture of Vietnam's Ethnic Minorities until 2020, the Project on Inventory, Collection, Preservation, Display, and Dissemination of Typical Traditional Cultural Heritage of Vietnam's Ethnic Minorities in the 2017-2020 period, the National Target Program on Culture in the 2012-2015 period, the National Target Program on Cultural Development in the 2016-2020 period, the Cultural Development Strategy until 2020, and the Cultural Development Strategy until 2030. Tasks and solutions needed to preserve and promote the values of national cultural heritage include the completion of planning on conservation, repair, and restoration of relics; conservation, repair, and restoration of special national relics, world heritages, and typical cultural and historical relic sites to serve educational and economic development; and linking the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage with tourism development. It is imperative to improve research, collection, inventory, and classification of intangible cultural heritage and documentary heritage. Focus should be placed on restoring and preserving certain types of intangible cultural heritage and traditional art which are at risk, with priority given to the cultural heritage of ethnic minorities with a population below 10,000. UNESCO-recognized intangible cultural heritage should be promoted to popularize the image of Vietnam and its people. By the end of 2020, Vietnam had 28 UNESCO-recognized cultural heritages. They include 8 cultural and natural heritages; 13 intangible cultural heritages of humanity and intangible cultural heritages in need of urgent safeguarding; and 7 documentary heritages. Vietnam also boasts 3,560 national relics, including 119 special national relics; 215 national treasures; and 364 national intangible cultural heritages(9). “Vietnam now has 166 museums including 4 national museums with a total of more than 3 million items.”(10). All these are valuable resources for socio-economic development and enhance Vietnam’s soft power in the integration and development process. Promoting the soft power of culture is currently an  important strategy for many countries to achieve sustainable development and raise their position and role on the international stage. Improved cultural institutions and policies have prompted changes in the cultural market and enabled Vietnam to make full use of culture’s soft power by promoting the film industry, performing arts, and cultural tourism, among others, contributing to the overall GDP growth of the country.

To achieve the goal of building a prosperous and happy country, it is essential to promote the role of families in cultural development and comprehensive human development. Building happy families provides the foundation for building a happy society which is critically important for the nation. Family building is both a goal and a motivator for sustainable national development. On May 29, 2012, the Prime Minister issued Decision 629/QD-TTg, on "The Vietnamese family development strategy until 2020 with a vision to 2030." The strategy aims to raise awareness of the role, position, and responsibilities of families and communities in effectively implementing guidelines, policies, and laws on marriage and family, gender equality, domestic violence prevention and control, and the avoidance of social evils. It emphasizes the need to inherit and uphold the traditional values of Vietnamese families; selectively absorb the advanced values of families in developed societies; and fully exercise the rights and responsibilities of family members, especially for children, the elderly, pregnant women, and women raising young children. The strategy is intended to raise the capacity of families in economic development and response to natural disasters and economic crises as well as generate jobs and increase income and welfare, particularly for policy beneficiaries and poor and near poor households.

Policies and laws on cultural development have been created and fine-tuned to meet practical requirements, contributing to cultural development and the improvement of people’s character. However, the building of the cultural institution remains slow and exhibits many shortcomings. The issuance of policies on the socialization of cultural activities is moving at a snail’s pace and the cultural sector’s apparatus needs to be better organized to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of leadership and management. State budget allocation for culture remains modest, legal documents governing culture are inconsistent, and the institutionalization of Party guidelines and orientations is slow and poorly executed. Many policies are outdated, but the process of revision has been slow. Culture has not been adequately attended to in proportion to economics and politics, failing to truly become both an internal resource and a driving force for sustainable national development. Hesitation has been reported in the leadership, direction, and management of cultural matters. Investment in culture is inadequate, scattered, and ineffective. The benefits for people from the country's development achievements are not balanced. Consequently, cultural institutions and policies should continue to be developed and improved, and more resources should be allocated for cultural development.

Some tasks needed to build and fine-tune institutions and policies and mobilize resources for cultural development in Vietnam

Building and completing institutions on cultural development

Building and perfecting institutions to develop culture consistently and systematically in line with industrialization, modernization, and proactive international integration is a crucial task, particularly in encouraging each individual and the entire society to actively participate in cultural development.

The cultural institution should be developed and completed to strengthen Party leadership, State management, and people's mastery, and encourage cultural workers and businesses to engage more in cultural activities and in the production and supply of cultural products. Public non-business units in the cultural sector should be restructured to perform as public service delivery units, adhering to the autonomy mechanism. The apparatus of the cultural sector should be streamlined to operate effectively and efficiently under State management in order to guarantee the socialist orientation in cultural development, build an advanced Vietnamese culture imbued with national identity, and create favorable conditions for everyone to enjoy and participate in cultural activities and innovations. It also aims to prevent harmful cultural products and social vices from entering social life.

The 13th National Party Congress identified several tasks, including "Increasing investment in and utilization of cultural resources and bringing them into full play, coupled with renovating management and addressing the problem of scattered and ineffective investment. It is necessary to strengthen inspection and supervision to ensure the effectiveness of investment in the cultural sector. Cultural institutions need to be renovated and fine-tuned from the central to grassroots levels to ensure effectiveness."(11) To this end, it is essential to renovate and improve Party leadership and State management in cultural affairs. Attention should be paid to renovating theoretical thinking and drawing practical experience; ensuring that political orientation goes hand in hand with the appropriate application of the characteristics of cultural work in macro and micro-cultural management; and proactively developing planning of cultural development from the central to grassroots levels. Plans and measures should be implemented to accelerate the building and improvement of the cultural institution in line with the market economy mechanism and international integration. It is important to review the implementation of laws governing culture (the Law on Publication, the Press Law, the Law on Cultural Heritage Law, the Law on Intellectual Property Law, and the Library Law) to propose amendments and supplements in accordance with reality, emerging requirements, and international agreements and laws. Other tasks include reviewing the restructuring of the apparatus and personnel work to avoid the misplacement of officials who lack the necessary expertise or underutilization of competent officials.

Building and perfecting policies on cultural development

It is necessary to renovate the State’s management mindset on cultural policy-making, shifting away from outdated thinking and an administrative command-oriented approach. The State should focus on macro and mid-level law-based management grounded in strategies, planning, and plans, instead of engaging in micro-level affairs or completing the tasks which should be done by the community. Building and perfecting the cultural policy system must achieve the fundamental objectives of enhancing the role of the State in cultural development and empowering the people in cultural creation, dissemination, and enjoyment.

To execute the Party's direction in building and developing an advanced culture imbued with national identity, the Prime Minister approved the "Cultural Development Strategy until 2020" and the "Cultural Development Strategy until 2030." However, implementation has as yet failed to meet expectations due to the inconsistency of related policies, particularly with regard to social affairs, investment, education and training, employment, incentives for scientists, talent training and utilization, and salary and bonus, among others. Renewing and improving the policy system for cultural development is crucial and urgent to ensure that culture truly becomes one of the four pillars for development, serving as the foundation and driving force for rapid and sustainable national development.

Increasing resources for cultural development

To this end, in addition to strategies on the development of the cultural workforce, it is necessary to continuously train  cultural officials at all levels and guarantee the cohesion between the 4 pillars: socio-economic development as the center, Party building as the key, cultural development as the spiritual foundation, and ensuring national defense and security as the crucial and continual task. The concerted development of these 4 pillars is the determinant of sustainable national development.

In the process of proactive and extensive cultural integration, it is essential to inherit and promote the values of the nation's cultural traditions while selectively embracing the quintessence of world cultures in order to build the values of contemporary Vietnamese culture.

In addition to increasing investment from the State budget in cultural development in line with economic growth, it is crucial to establish mechanisms and policies that effectively promote the socialization of culture. This approach aims to effectively mobilize resources from the people, from economic and social organizations, as well as from religious entities, overseas Vietnamese, and international friends for cultural  development. It will also facilitate conditions for non-governmental organizations to participate in cultural activities and attract additional economic sectors, especially large enterprises, to invest in cultural development. Promoting the socialization of cultural activities will help maximize all social resources for cultural development. However, attention should be paid to addressing irregularities in this process.

(1) Documents of the 6th National Party Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 1987, p. 120
(2) Documents of the 13th National Party Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2021, Vol. 1, pp. 33-34  
(3) Documents of the 6th National Party Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 1987, p. 92
(4) Documents of the 12th National Party Congress, Party Central Committee’s Office, Hanoi, 2016, p. 132
(5) Documents of the 6th National Party Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 1987, p. 130
(6) Documents of the 13th National Party Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2021, Vol. 1 pp. 146-147
(7) Documents of the 9th National Party Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2001, p. 114
(8) Documents of the 12th National Party Congress, Party Central Committee’s Office, Hanoi, 2016, p. 132
(9) Report 883/BC-DSVH dated December 15, 2020, by the  Cultural Heritage Department

(10) Some theoretical and practical issues on socialism and the path towards socialism in Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2022, pp. 174-175 

(11) Documents of the 13th National Party Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2021, Vol. 1 p. 146

This article was published in the Communist Review No. 1008 (February 2023)