Published 6 January 2020, The Daily Tribune

For a change and as we start a new year and decade, let us digress from the discussion of legal rights and remedies and talk about culture instead. Mahatma Gandhi once said that a nation’s culture resides in the heart and in the soul of its people. The role of culture is that it is the form through which we as society reflect on who we are, where we’ve been and where we hope to be, remarked Wendell Pierce. Indeed, the mark of a thriving civilization is the passion of its people for arts and culture.

It is to show our love for arts and culture and affirm their importance in society that Republic Act 11392 or the National Performing Arts Companies Act was passed. It has, as its policy, the recognition, designation, and support of non-government organizations that have demonstrated pioneering, consistent, and unassailable competence, effectiveness, and success in the development, training, documentation, and performance of ballet and contemporary dance, orchestral music, choral music, and theater.

Under said law, a national performing arts company is to be designated for a period of five years, one each for the following genres: national ballet/contemporary dance company, national theater company, national orchestra, national choral company, and national indigenous performing ensemble.

The law also lists the roles and functions of a national performing arts company:
(a) Undertake a continuing program of training and education for the professional development of performing artists, teachers, directors, designers, performing arts managers, and other artists particular to its performing arts field;
(b) Conduct research relative to particular performing arts and undertake documentation of its activities and programs for the preservation and of dissemination of Filipino masterpieces in the performing arts;
(c) Organize and present a regular annual season of performances at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and other venues in the country;
(d) Develop and build a repertoire of original Filipino works that will help define our national cultural identity;
(e) Maintain and promote a standard of artistic excellence in its field that will help elevate the performing arts in the country;
(f) Conduct national outreach and exchange program of performances, workshops, and seminars for the development and promotion of the performing arts in the regions;
(g) Undertake international outreach program as Philippine cultural ambassadors and perform during State functions for visiting dignitaries;
(h) Conduct continuing audience development program and help promote greater awareness and appreciation of the performing arts among the public; and
(i) Maintain a viable and sustainable performing arts organization and help set a standard for effective and efficient performing arts management.
A selection committee for the national performing arts companies will choose the national performing arts companies based on the following criteria:
(a) It is national in scope, as it tackles and presents the arts, culture, traditions, issues and concerns of the nation, drawing the best talents from all over the country and contributing to the development of a national cultural consciousness;
(b) It maintains the highest standards of artistic excellence, manifested in the quality of its performances, artists, training programs, and other activities;
(c) It is world-class, having represented the country in numerous touring engagements, festivals, competitions and international events, and having been acclaimed by foreign organizations, audiences and critics alike;
(d) It has maintained a professional track record of regular and continuing set of activities in pursuit of its mission; and
(e) It is able to maintain a viable and sustainable organization to support its programs and shall thus have the capability to match the allocated annual subsidy from the government.
National performing arts companies to be selected will be entitled to the following:
(a) Free and equitable use of government facilities and cultural venues, specifically the CCP, the Tanghalang Balagtas and other government venues devoted to cultural and artistic performances, based on a stipulated frequency of usage;
(b) Access to grants for research, documentation, productions, workshops, training and audience development programs from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, subject to proper evaluation and availability of funds; and
(c) Intellectual property rights to their work, including music, choreographs, and other artistic, creations. Likewise, they shall enjoy the right to public performance fixation. They shall further be entitled to the reproduction, authorization, and distribution of fixations in accordance with intellectual property laws.

Further, any donation made to the national performing arts companies used actually, directly, and exclusively by said companies is exempt from donor’s tax and can be claimed as a deduction from the donor’s gross income.

I say that lawyers too should contribute in the promotion of arts and culture and creation of national performing arts companies. After all, a learned lawyer is a cultured man — a man of the world but without necessarily being worldly.

For comments and questions, please send an email to