Viet Nam News
Thăng Long Theatre is one Hà Nội’s art units and theatres chosen to become financially autonomous, under the strategy approved by Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc to develop the Vietnamese culture industry in the 2020-2030 period. The strategy will provide a challenge for theatres once they can no longer rely on financial support from the State.
The theatre organised two big concerts: Hà Nội Xưa Và Nay (Hà Nội Moment in Time) last November, and Tình Em (My Love) last month, both sold-out. It is the first time the Thăng Long invested money to produce concerts.
Established singer Tấn Minh, director of the Thăng Long Theatre talks about his plans on how to run the theatre in the future.
According to the strategy to develop culture industry in the 2020-2030 period, theatres in Hà Nội have to reach a turnover of US$5 million per year. What do you think about this number?
At present, we are waiting for detailed guidelines from the Hà Nội People’s Committee. It is difficult to say for sure before we find out exactly what we need do in accordance with the strategy. It needs a process. However, I think it is possible to reach this number of turnover. I have performed in many sold-out concerts and I work with people who have experiences in concert organisation.
If all tickets of a concert which takes place at the National Convention Centre are sold out, the money made from ticket selling alone can reach up to VNĐ7-8 billion (over US$300,000 to 350,000).
Are you confident you can run the theatre without subsidies from the State?
I’m confident enough to say that my theatre can sustain itself with the turnover from ticket selling. If we try our best we can host sell-out concerts. Many artists from the Thăng Long Theatre have been invited to perform at sell-out concerts, so with this in mind, I’m confident that we can put some on ourselves.
But there is a difference between a sold-out concert and a high-end concert. The theatre has many talented and enthusiastic artists. Recently, we organised two concerts. It was the first time we invested into producing our own concerts. We invited a stage director who is doesn’t belong to the theatre and co-operated with a company to sell the tickets.
We are glad because the turnover was higher than our expectations.
Have you ever been in two minds about performing concerts organised by your theatre?
No, I haven’t. I’m a singer and I was popular before I became the director of the theatre. I was invited to perform at many concerts which weren’t organised by my theatre. However, I’m always ready to perform at concerts held here. I don’t think about payment when I perform for my theatre. I refused two big concerts which I could have received a much higher payout than I would have performing at my own theatre.
I think that this place needs me and I have to take my responsibility seriously because I’m an employee. It is my will to make a contribution to the theatre.
How many people are there in your theatre? How can you make your employees feel secure when they are not subsidised from the State?
The theatre has 73 employees including artists and other labourers. At present, we are still subsidised by the State’s budget. But salaries will be changed in the future depending on the theatre’s turnover.
Financial autonomy will challenge all theatres in Hà Nội, not just this one, but I know that many theatres have succeeded in carrying out financial autonomy. I told my employees and myself that we have to go ahead and not look back. If we don’t try our best we will be closed. If I cannot sail my boat then there will be another person to replace me.
While waiting for guidelines from the Hà Nội People’s Committee, we will work on defining our own way to carry out financial autonomy. It is surely a challenge for us but we have to do it. I think that it is a good way for art to stay current. — VNS