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Saigon to Host Major Street Art Festival Next Year

Saigon is banking on the festival's success to draw international visitors back to the city after the COVID-10 pandemic subsides next year.

VnExpress reports that Saigon officials are planning to host a street arts festival from April to November of 2021. The festival, which would be the first of its kind in Vietnam, would include mural painting, an exhibition, youth workshops, seminars on street art, and music performances.

The festival will be sponsored by the French government through France's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development.

French Consul General Vincent Floreani told the news source that this would help established Saigon as a new street art hub within Southeast Asia: "The first-ever festival promises to attract European tourists returning to Vietnam after the COVID-19 crisis."

More details about the festival will be released at a later date, but the event could boost international tourism if it resumes after COVID-19 vaccine distribution begins worldwide. Vietnam's tourism sector is expected to lose around US$23 billion this year, as inbound commercial flights have been suspended since March 25.

It remains to be seen exactly what sort of street art will be part of the festival. For example, there is still a debate over whether graffiti and tags are considered art, while informal murals can be found in some places, such as hẻm 64 of Nguyen Khoai Street in District 4.

Street art festivals are quite common in other parts of the world, and destinations such as Penang in Malaysia have staked a huge part of their tourism appeal on street art — at least, in the times before COVID-19.

A 2.2-kilometer-long "mural street" is also taking shape in Hanoi, but in a relatively remote part of the city. Saigon has had some homes for street art, but perhaps the most well-known, 3A Station, was demolished in 2017.

[Photo: A mural in Hanoi]

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