Phuket Opinion: The fine art of garnering government support

Anucha Deeviset, 35, is a freelance photographer and member of B&W Photo Phuket Club. A Chaiyaphum native, Mr Anucha has a photography degree from Rangsit University and spent 13 years working in production companies in Bangkok and Phuket before becoming a freelancer.

Here, he talks about why more people don’t know about Phuket’s art scene and how the government can help.

PHUKET: I’ve been living in Phuket for five years and I have met many skillful artists. However, I recognize that the art scene here is not widely known, by locals or visitors. I think this is because it is promoted only within a small group of people – those who are directly connected with it.

What we really need is help from the local government to publicize art events.

Let me give you an example of what tends to happen. Let’s say one of the photography clubs wants to hold an exhibition. They will only advertise it on their own Facebook page or website, or maybe on another photography club’s website. So the word will get out, but only within a small group and among friends of that group. Others have no way of knowing about it.

Even at the municipality level there’s a problem with promoting art events, because when they stage an art activity or exhibition, they ask us to publicize it for them! We do our best, but we don’t have the resources to advertise widely, so the same thing happens: word doesn’t spread.

Imagine how much better it would be if the municipality helped to promote art.

The fact is that Phuket Town itself – the architecture of our old buildings – is art, but sometimes people forget it, don’t appreciate it or are not aware of it. I bet there are a lot of people who don’t know that the old Standard Chartered Bank building in town is also the Phuket Peranakan Museum.

A few years ago, the photography clubs held an exhibition at the bank building. We invited famous artists from Bangkok to be our guest speakers. A lot of people joined the opening ceremony on the first day of the exhibition, but later, only a few of them came.

It’s difficult to know whether lack of attendance is due to poor advertising or lack of interest.

Our cultural unawareness has widespread implications, and can even affect the economy of Phuket. When we invite tourists to visit, we are likely to focus on sea, sand and sun – and forget about other features, like architecture and culture.

If the municipalities or local government organizations could help promote the art activities and exhibitions more, even more tourists would visit Phuket.

One thing the government should do to support the arts is put up signs along the roads and in tourist areas when we have exhibitions. Another thing is to promote more events here. We promote the Vegetarian Festival, why don’t we promote the Baba Yaya wedding ceremony? It’s a unique traditional ceremony that Phuketians are proud of.

However, it’s not only the government that needs to do more, it’s local people too.

A friend of mine came to Phuket and was walking around the old town. He took his camera out to take pictures of the buildings and a house owner asked him to stop in an unfriendly way. I totally understand the privacy issue, but in my opinion, taking pictures just for pleasure should not be a problem. Pictures will capture good memories for visitors and might help promote the area to other people too.

I love Phuket even though I am not a Phuketian. I see Phuket as an interesting place that still has a lot of beautiful and hidden arts and culture to discover. Let’s make Phuket famous as a place where old arts and culture mix together with a modern lifestyle.


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