MANILA –Performing arts and cultural groups have reasons to be happy. The House Committee on Culture has recently approved House Bill 4783 filed jointly by Albay and Samar Reps. Joey Salceda and Mel Senen Sarmiento, respectively, which provides the framework and criteria for designating the country’s national performing arts companies, recognizing their contribution to the preservation of Philippine arts and culture, and providing financial subsidies.
Chaired by Sorsogon Rep. Evelyn Escudero, the House Committee on Culture also created the technical working group for HB 4783, titled “Philippine National Performing Arts Companies Act.” The measure designates one national performing arts company from various performing arts genres, as follows: National Ballet/Contemporary Dance Company, National Theater Company, National Orchestra Company, and National Choral Company. The framework is based on contestability and capacity building.
HB 4783 also establishes the selection committee for the National Performing Arts Companies, composed of 15 members, chosen from panels of experts in the artistic and technical aspects of the performing arts, and designated by the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCAA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).
The committee is tasked to draw up appropriate guidelines for the selection of the National performing arts companies, involving the following procedures: call for applications of performing arts companies based on set guidelines and criteria; first screening for assessment by the Secretariat; second screening and evaluation by the Selection Committee.
The final selection will choose one qualified applicant each for orchestral music, theatre, ballet/contemporary dance, and choral music. The bill proposes that an additional 12 or three from each of the next most qualified applicants from each of the performing arts cited shall be chosen for a separate subsidy program. The results of the final selection shall be ratified jointly by the NCAA Board of Commissioners and the CCP Board of Trustees.
The Selection committee shall choose the national Performing Arts Companies based on the following criteria: national in scope; treatment of the arts, culture, traditions, issues and concerns of the nation; attractiveness to top talents from all over the country and contribute to the development of national cultural consciousness; and maintainance of high standards of artistic excellence as shown by the quality of performances, artists, training and programs and other activities.
The candidate companies must also be world-class, having represented the country in numerous touring engagements, international events, competitions and festivals, and must have been acclaimed by foreign organizations, critics and audiences. They must have also maintained a professional track record of regular and continuing activities in pursuit of its mission; and are able to maintain a viable and sustainable organization to support their programs. They must likewise have the capability to match the annual subsidy allocation form the government.
The amounts of financial awards for the selected performing arts companies are as follows: P10,000,000 a year each for the National Ballet/Contemporary Dance Company, the National Theatre Company, and the National Orchestra for a period of five (5) years; and P5,000,00 a year for the National Choral Company for a period of five (5) years.
A maximum of 12, or three each from the next most qualified applicants from the four performing arts genre mentioned, shall be entitled to a subsidy of P1,000,000 a year, renewable upon favorable evaluation, for performance, research, documentation, and commissioned work.
Salceda said it is a must to “appropriately designate, recognize, and support Philippine national performing arts companies that have demonstrated unassailable competence, effectiveness and success in the perpetuation of the country’s arts and culture.” There is a need to provide these companies more financial assistance because the budget of the National Endowment Fund for Culture and the Arts (NEFCA), which is tasked to promote Philippine arts and culture, is insufficient, he added.
Considering the creativity of Filipinos, Salceda said there are several projects that may receive financial aid to vigorously promote the program through the NEFCA, administered by the NCCA. HB 4783 provides the financial aid that should enable these companies to perform their roles effectively and efficiently.
Salceda has long been a known patron of the arts. As Albay governor for nine years, arts and culture flourished in the province and played an invaluable role in Albay’s robust tourism. Records show he has supported 70 exhibits by local and visiting painters, sculptors, photographers, graphic artists, and ceramics and handicraft designers.
Through his efforts Albay’s Daragang Magayon legend was staged at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 2013, which set a new record in Philippine Art History as the first full-length ballet rendition of a provincial epic.