The Dom Dom (Fire-Fly) Centre was launched in Ha Noi last Sunday to promote experimental music. It's the result of co-operation between its founder, experimental composer Tran Kim Ngoc, the Swedish Malmoe Academy of Music, the Swedish Ars Nova Ensemble and the Viet Nam National Academy of Music.
She spoke to Culture Vulture about her project.
Please tell me about Dom Dom Centre?
The centre is not a music school. It was set up with the elements of education, creativity and audience development. At the beginning, we started an education programme in co-operation with the Viet Nam National Academy of Music to introduce students to subjects not taught at the academy such as electronic music, contemporary orchestration and improvisation.
A space will be set up for helping artists perform and display their work and seminars.
The centre will also aim to develop the audience. Diversified programmes Behind the Stage; Improvisation Stage for Children and Audience Ask and Musician Ask will be held.
The Journalism with Music programme kicked off last week at the academy for journalists who are working in the arts.
International lecturers will talk about the relationship between contemporary music and media.
Next year, outstanding journalists will be selected to attend a one-month journalist-in-resident programme in New York. At the end of this year, the centre will organize a music festival to kick off the audience development programme.
You said you had been thinking of establishing a centre since 2009. Why?
When I was studying at the academy, I recognised that experimental art and music were not familiar to Vietnamese. Despite being taught about it in the academy, we lacked a lot of information about it.
Experimental art and music have not been given much attention. Managers of education centres and theatres, as well as cultural authorities, don't care about it.
As a result, I wanted to set up a system on a small-scale by myself. I think of it as a home for experimental art where individual creativity will be supported. Above all, experimental art requires the strong characteristics of each individual, which need to exist in a communal art environment.
I believe that Dom Dom will enrich the Vietnamese culture and art scene and further diversify it. I hope a new generation of contemporary and experimental artists will be formed. These artists will have a good background in experimental art.
I also hope for increased interaction between artists, audiences and media.
Why do you want to kick off the Journalism with Music programme?
Two classes on the history of Western music in the 20th century were held in April. They were part of training courses on electronic music and contemporary orchestration. We wanted to offer the classes to journalists, helping them understand more about music as well as experimental art.
The Journalists with Music programme will accompany the education programme and other activities at the Dom Dom Centre, giving the journalists a chance to take part in creating experimental music and art.
The journalists, or art critics, are moderators, linking artists and the public. These three elements need to interact. Art cannot develop without one of these elements.
Is finding a source of finances a problem for experimental artists?
Making money is not my purpose. I am not doing this to earn a living. I'm lucky, maybe, to live on my work, to get composition orders. Over this last year I didn't work. I just focused on the Dom Dom Centre.
Dom Dom is not only a place for experimental artists. We want to offer artist-in-residence programmes with a view to supporting experimental artists in Viet Nam. Under the programmes, the artists will live and work in the centre.
Dom Dom has been granted enough resources to run for one year. After that, we will continue to seek resources to set up a financial system for sustainable development.
Finding human resources is also a difficulty for us.
What makes you confident about Dom Dom?
There are many challenges when it comes to developing experimental art and music in Viet Nam. It's the right time to do something. I want to know if Dom Dom can make an impact on society and whether it can make a change. I think a big change has not yet been seen, but perhaps a small change is possible.
In Viet Nam, experimental artists have not had a professional working environment. This limits their creativity. Vietnamese artists have fewer chances than other artists in the region or in the world. I want to set up a system to develop the experimental art community. — VNS