Art festival amid a pandemic? Baguio creatives disagree over how to spend city financial support

Baguio was named to the Unesco Creative Cities Network in 2017. The city’s artists evaluate their performance four years later as the UN body is set to review the designation.

Screenshot from IBAGIW 2020: The 3rd Baguio Creative City Festival (AVP)/TWIMedia (Red Aquino and Ferdie John Balanag)

‘Give artists financial aid’

The festival was “generally well-staged” but some events were “overly lavish” and “tone-deaf” considering the pandemic, said Altomonte, creative director of the festival in 2018. It would have been more helpful if some funding was given to artists in need, he said.

Delayed payments to artists

The festival was also marred by complaints over delayed payments to artists and artisans and prizes to contest winners. The events, staged to uplift the spirits, have instead caused stress, Altomonte said.

BACCI: Ibagiw Festival gave artists hope

Despite the hitches, Lim said the festival gave artists hope. “[The year] 2020 was different. Beyond financial benefits, though significantly important especially in a time of economic uncertainty, the Creative City Festival gave the creative community the benefit [of] hope, that things are getting better and will get better,” she said.

Unesco review this year

Baguio City became part of the Unesco Creative Cities Network (UCCN) in 2017, joining 63 other cities from 44 countries. Former Cordillera tourism office chief Venus Tan, backed by University of the Philippines-Baguio Chancellor Raymundo Rovillos, spearheaded the effort.

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