How Non-profit Art Spaces in Hanoi, Vietnam, used Facebook to Communicate, Exhibit and Promote Art and Culture During the Closure of Physical Spaces
Keywords:cultural sector, Facebook, social media, Covid-19 pandemic, non-profit art spaces
The Covid-19 Pandemic has changed the nature and importance of arts communication, exhibition and promotion via social media. However, moving fully online has highlighted global inequalities in digital inclusion and access, with inherent biases towards content from the West and larger cultural institutions with sufficient technical, human and financial resources in order to survive through the Covid-19 Pandemic. This paper investigates how non-profit art spaces in Hanoi, Vietnam, developed their use of Facebook for effective communication, exhibition and promotion of Vietnamese art and culture during the first closure of physical premises. With the shift of all work online due to Covid-19 Pandemic social distancing measures, Facebook provided non-profit art spaces with a viable digital solution at a time of increased pressure to connect with the audience. Facebook provided a way to overcome challenges faced by non-profit art spaces with lack of financial, human and technical resources, by providing a free and widely accessible social media platform. The current study draws upon a digital ethnography of Facebook posts over 2 months and 50 semi-structured interviews with cultural professionals in Hanoi. The findings highlight changes in the use of Facebook, the digital strategies that were created for working fully online, and how art spaces maintained connection with the audience during the closure of physical premises between March and April 2020. This study identifies changes in social media usage patterns in three main ways: 1) the introduction of using Facebook for digital exhibition and holding live events, 2) changes in type of promotional content, and 3) changes in communication style with the introduction of an effective rhetoric of care. Together, the findings highlight changes in the nature and importance of arts communication, exhibition and promotion via social media in the cultural sector due the Covid-19 Pandemic. Developments over this time could help provide a sustainable solution to overcome challenges faced in the cultural sector in Vietnam and overcome global inequalities in access and inclusion online.
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