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A four-point plan for the CCP


CCP facade at night, photo by Noel Pabalate

CCP facade at night, photo by Noel Pabalate

While the country eases into a very different kind of normal, as quarantine restrictions are slowly lifted, mass gatherings remain largely prohibited. This means that, although many industries have reopened under a general community quarantine (GCQ) and the anticipated modified GCQ, those that have been branded as non-essentials will remain closed. Unfortunately, this includes the arts and the entertainment industries. 

There is a lot to be said, of course, about whether the arts—specifically the performing arts—should indeed be considered non-essential, falling under the umbrella of risky public spectacles, as it is. With this, the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) is faced with the harsh reality of a changing landscape for the performing arts, but it is ready to take on this new, uncharted reality. 

“Art, particularly in this time of crisis, continues to be an important aspect of society,” says Nick Lizaso, president of the CCP. “It is, as it has always been, an outlet of a people’s soul, an expression of its spirit, of resolve and of determination to enter into what many have called the ‘new normal.’”

Nick says that members of the board of the CCP have all agreed to realign its artistic programs with a goal to still deliver educational and inspiring content to Filipinos by using alternative platforms that save lives and protect livelihoods. 

To do this, Nick outlines a four-point plan. “One cannot and should not do away with the arts,” he explains. “For this reason, we will continue our projects following four simple guidelines.” 

These four, the CCP president says, are the following.

1. Use alternative modes of engagement so that that Filipinos continue to benefit from the educational, inspirational, and healing properties of arts and culture.

2. Protect livelihoods in the arts and culture sector by continuing to employ artists in the alternative production and distribution platforms.

3. Invest in capabilities that equip artists and cultural workers to innovate on methods of production and distribution during the quarantines and the post-Covid recovery period.

4. Collaborate with artists and companies to digitize content in order to create new markets and new job opportunities in the arts.

These four points are made concrete in programs like Arts and Culture Online, Live Arts on Lockdown, Arts for Therapy, and Capacity Building, says Nick. 

Nick Lizaso, NCCA Chairman and CCP President (Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

Nick Lizaso, NCCA Chairman and CCP President (Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

Arts and Culture Online, for instance, began in early April, and it features video streaming of archival recordings in high-definition. I was able to catch some of these shows on CCP’s official YouTube channel. In the works are the Time Capsule to Document the Arts in the Time of COVID-19 and Virtual Reality (VR) galleries and museum. 

The CCP, Nick adds, will seek partnerships and collaboration for education, fundraising, and communication. And with classes expected to start in late August, the CCP will also offer its online resources to encourage home schooling.

Beginning this month, the CCP has also started its Live Arts on Lockdown program through a purely online version of this year’s Virgin Labfest. Dubbed as “Virgin Labfest 2020 Kapit: Lab in the Time of COVID (A Virtual Labfest Lockdown Edition,” it will be a pilot activity for re-tooling and up-skilling artists and production staff for online production and delivery, which will run from June 10 to 28. 

The CCP’s Arts for Therapy Program, meanwhile, will develop and implement modules on Arts for Mental Wellness and pursue Arts for Healing activities, such as pocket concerts of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and “PPO at your bedside” events.

Lastly, under the Cultural Center’s Capacity Building program, it will provide Training Modules for the continuous up-skilling of artists and cultural workers in art therapy and online technology.

Ballet performance at the CCP main theater, photo by Kiko Cabuena

Ballet performance at the CCP main theater, photo by Kiko Cabuena

“Unfortunately, due to the ongoing fight against this menace of a virus, the well-received free concerts by the PPO, as well as other outreach activities of the CCP, will be put on hold in the meantime,” Nick laments. But, he adds, he remains hopeful. 

In a previous interview, he explained to me how he plans to open mini cultural centers in different regions throughout the country. It’s a project that he still wishes to pursue, and the current situation has not changed that. As of the moment, the CCP continues to encourage and assist regions to develop their local artists and indigenous arts. 

“We remain true to the mission of the CCP,” Nick says. “We will continue to make the arts matter to the lives of Filipinos, even as we enter into new and uncharted territory, perhaps unsure of where the future will bring us. But if there is one thing we can be certain of, it is that the arts will always be there and the CCP will always be a proud beacon of Filipino artistic prowess.” | FB: Cultural Center of the Philippines | IG: @culturalcenterph | Twitter: @culturalctrPH

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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