History rising: A new Cultural Center of Philippines

The Cultural Center of the Philippines has been the country’s symbol of Filipino ingenuity, a venue that showcases incomparable local and world-class talents, a catalyst for a major leap in cultural development and preservation, and the world’s window to the Philippines as the Asia’s Mecca of culture and the arts.There are many reasons to be optimistic in CCP’s new season. For one, a new lineup of festivals and events will fill the center’s venues once more.

And, the most exciting of all?

The CCP will soon have two additional buildings that will give the entire complex not just a whole new look but a different vibrancy altogether.

The new Artists Center and the new Performing Arts Theater are two of the new iconic buildings that will form the centerpiece of the CCP Complex Master Development Plan, which is aimed at redeveloping the 62-hectare property on the reclaimed land on Roxas Boulevard.

According to CCP Vice President and Artistic Director Chris B. Millado, the P2 billion budget has already been approved and will be released in a few tranches to finally begin the construction of the two new edifices in addition to the P50-million and 300-seater Black Box Theater, which had its groundbreaking last year.

The artist rendition of the New Performing Arts Theater, a 1,000-seat theater designed by Leandro Locsin and Associates. It will be the main performance venue of the Cultural Center of the Philippines scheduled to open in 2019.

The New Artists Center will have rehearsal halls for the artists, black boxes, and restaurants, while the New Performing Arts Theater, a 1,000-seat theater designed by Leandro Locsin and Associates, will be the main performance venue.

“The target opening date for the two buildings is in 2019, in time for the CCP’s 50th anniversary. Once the two buildings are opened, the CCP main building will be closed for major renovations. This building is more than 50 years old. It’s way past its shelf-life,” said Millado.

He added that the goal of this major redevelopment is to provide world-class facility for arts and culture while enhancing public interest and appreciation of distinctive Philippine arts in various fields. This effort is also well aligned with the CCP’s goal to breach the one million-audience mark this year.

Millado said that from 2010 to 2015, the combined audience count at the CCP has reached 770,000. The CCP was presenting 775 shows and cultural activities in 2010. By 2015, it was presenting 1,182 shows. Additionally, The Pasinaya Festival reached a peak of 50,000 viewers while the Cinemalaya reached a high of 100,000.

The spike in audience attendance was brought about by the vigorous development of new and original contents, which contributed to the development of new audience for the arts which lead to the strengthening regional arts and culture.

The 50-year-old Main Theater, the centerpiece of CCP complex will soon be closed for major renovation.

“The CCP holds at least six festivals in a year making it the epicenter of creative expression and audience engagement. We hope to hit the one-million-mark in terms of audience attendance this year. The number of artists under our mantle has grown from 11,351 to 25,755. It is this growth that has spurred the need for more venues within the complex,” Millado explained.

Opening salvo

CCP’s calendar of activities started with the annual CCP Pasinaya Open House Festival, the Philippines’ largest multi-arts festival, which coincided with National Arts Month. Apart from presenting previews of performances in store later in the year by CCP’s resident companies, this year saw more days for workshops and an arts market. The event, which was held on Feb. 4 and Feb. 5, also featured crash workshops, film screenings, visual arts exhibitions and activities for children.

The CCP will also host Fringe Manila from Feb. 8 to 26, a celebration of fresh and daring works in theater, literature, dance, music, spoken word, film, and visual art.

Meanwhile, due to insistent public demand, there will be a rerun of the concert in which the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra plays the music of the pop rock band Aegis. The rerun, called Symphonic Aegis – Aegis in Symphony: The Repeat (Hugot pa more!), will be held on Feb. 11 at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater).

From June 28 to July 16, the CCP will host the annual Virgin Lab Fest out of the Tanghalang Huseng Batute. Last year the festival of new and untested plays found itself with fewer seats available than people who wanted to watch the plays, so it will now be held at the CCP Little Theater, which seats 400.

Due to insistent public demand, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra plays the music of Aegis in a one-night spectacle called ‘Aegis in Symphony.”

Also in July is the 3rd Andrea Veneracion International Choral Competition and Festival. The festival is named after the founder of the world renowned  Philippine Madrigal Singers, the late National Artist for Music Professor Andrea O. Veneracion, an esteemed choirmaster and choral clinician who was instrumental in the promotion of choral music all over the country.

One of this year’s highlights is the CCP’s independent film festival Cinemalaya, now on its 13th year, which will be adding an animation category following the success of Saving Sally, an official entry in the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) in 2016. Cinemalaya will run from Aug. 4 to 13.

For more information on CCP programs and festivals, visit http://www.culturalcenter.qov.ph.

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