Toff De Venecia's love for the arts has pushed him to support the industry in his work in Congress. Lead more from this theatre expert here:

Meet congressman Toff De Venecia. Not only is he in government but he is a director, artistic director and a politician who strives to protect and promote the arts in the Philippines through initiations like The Sandbox Collective, which he founded. 

In Congress, De Venecia is the lead convener of the Arts and Culture and Creative Industries Bloc (ACCIB) and the Chairman of the Special Committee of Creative Industry and Performing Arts. 

In his mission to support the arts, De Venecia says “what we need is a comprehensive approach to industry growth and development, assessing all areas of the value chain from research, development and ideation, to production, distribution and even improving our export of both creative goods and services.” With a future full of opportunities and promise he envisions “Filipino art and culture as moving towards the German concept of gesamtkunstwerk or the total art that makes use of all or many art forms or strives to do”. 

Read more: Get To Know The Nation's Most Respected Choir

Learn more from this creative soul, here: 

What makes Filipino arts and the local scene exciting or unique for you?  

It's very exciting to think of our Filipino arts and culture, not only in the traditional sense of the words, but in its inclusion in the robust and exciting value chain of our Philippine Creative Industries. My work in the theatre for the past decade has immersed me both in the business side of it as managing artistic director behind The Sandbox Collective and the artistic side of it as a freelance theatre director, most recently for Dani Girl: The Musical and what would have been Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel by Repertory Philippines prior to the shutdown due to the pandemic. 

Read more: Tatler Presents Asia's Most Influential The Culture List 2021

It [has been] very enlightening to me in my work in Congress as lead convener of the Arts and Culture and Creative Industries Bloc (ACCIB) and the Chairman of the Special Committee of Creative Industry and Performing Arts. 

Working in the theatre, I've seen the polish of our creative output and also its proclivity towards being world-class. What's been lacking all these years or decades is institutional support from the state. 

Hopefully, with the bill that we've filed in Congress, (the Philippine Creative Industries Development Act), we will provide both a framework for recovery and acceleration for the sector, and a governance structure that will complement the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.[It is] not only [about] attending to the artistic aspect of sectors like the performing arts and its preservation but also industry development that will lead to more jobs and revenue generation as well as serialising the Filipino's intellectual property. 

What do you think of the current state future of Filipino art/theatre? Where do you think it will be in the future?  

When the situation has improved, I don't see a return to business as usual but rather theatre companies like The Sandbox Collective and our other colleagues in Philstage, the association of theatre companies in Manila, disrupting business models and delivery platforms and finding ways to innovate the way we do our art form.

Read more: Lea Salonga On The State Of Philippine Arts And Culture

In your opinion needs to be done to promote Filipino performance arts? What do you think it takes to make an impact?  

A recurring bottleneck and pain point for the value chains of our Philippine creative industries that I've gotten to know in this past year, from fashion design to visual arts, music to animation, art toys to comic books, gastronomy and many others, is marketing and promotions. The state can certainly bolster this through the Department of Trade and Industry, particularly CITEM which is headed by the great Pauline Juan who serves as its executive director, and other attached agencies that dabble in marketing and promotions. 

But what we need is a comprehensive approach to industry growth and development, assessing all areas of the value chain from research, development and ideation, to production, distribution and even improving our export of both creative goods and services. We are lagging behind our ASEAN neighbours because, for the longest time, the State has ignored our local creative industries who have been left to their own devices to find ways to thrive and foster. Hopefully, that will change.   

What are your goals or dream projects? 

When The Sandbox Collective returns, when and how this might happen, we'd like to do more multimedia collaborations with theater and live performance as the main anchor. As a theatre producer, I'd like to turn inwards and put forth more original work, and find ways to serialise this into other expressions of intellectual property - whether through film, or comic books, art toys, literature, or even visual art. 

Read more: Must-Know Filipino Talents In The Arts And Culture Scene This 2021