HCM CITY (VNS)— Theatres hosting traditional art performances are seeking help from local authorities and have asked travel agencies to promote their shows among tourists.
| Hard times: The traditional folk music show Hon Viet lacks financial resources. — File Photo
Despite the warm welcome from many foreign tourists, the Hon Viet (The Soul of Viet Nam) traditional folk music show is suffering huge losses because ticket sales cannot cover expenditures.
The 60-minute show, which cost the Mekong Artists Co US$24,000 to produce, is staged at the city's Opera House every month on the 15th and 23rd.
Launched in September last year, the Hon Viet features various traditional arts including cai luong (reformed opera), nha nhac (royal music) and martial arts. The shows are in both Vietnamese and English.
Tickets to the show cost VND100,000, VND180,000 and VND300,000.
"The Opera House can accommodate more than 500 people. But only between 70 and 120 tickets are sold for each show," said actress Linh Huyen, general director of the Mekong Artists Co.
"We suffer losses because payment to artists taking part in a show totals VND64million ($3,047)."
However, at a meeting organised recently by the HCM City Culture, Sports and Tourism Department to seek ways to promote traditional art shows among foreign tourists, organisers themselves came in for criticism.
"Hon Viet cancels shows sometimes even after their schedule has been announced," said a representative of Apex Tourism Co which targets Japanese tourists.
"We're reluctant to add the show in our tour programmes." Huyen countered that the Opera House was the venue of many important events of the city.
"In such cases, we must change the schedule of our show or sometimes cancel the show," Huyen said.
"I've dreamed of a permanent location for our performances, and many theatres in the city also have the same dream."
Nguyen Viet Anh, who is in charge of tourism at the Culture, Sports and Tourism Department, said HCM City's theatres had been offering programmes to entertain foreign tourists since 2005.
"However, many programmes stopped two years ago for lack of audience. These include traditional arts shows offered by the Bong Sen (Lotus) Troupe and dramas by Phu Nhuan Theatre," Anh said.
"Lacking a permanent location for performances is one of the reasons that the troupes have stopped their programmes."
"Only puppetry shows are popular among foreigners," said Phan Xuan Anh, director of Viet Excursions.
After having a permanent location for its performances at the city's Culture House for Workers, the well-known Rong Vang (Golden Dragon) water puppetry troupe has been a popular draw among foreign tourists.
"Puppet shows are included in the tours of many tourist companies," Xuan Anh said.
A joint project between HCM City's Thai Duong Stage Arts Company and Culture House for Workers and Rong Vang offers two shows every evening, one at 6.30 pm and the other at 8pm.
The Sai Gon Culture Company under the Culture, Sports and Tourism Department has worked on a project to build the Saigon Theatre at the cost of VND10 billion ($476,190). The theatre will be a permanent venue for troupes to offer artistic performances for foreigners.
However, the project to build the new theatre remains on paper due to a lack of funds, and the site for building the theatre has not been identified by the city authorities. — VNS