Since the revolution, the arts have been under state patronage and direction. In the 1990s, some writers began to publish stories in Thailand for money, but publication inside Laos requires state approval. The reading audience is very small, and it is hard for artists to find an audience. Traditional performers can make a living independently from state patronage.
Traditional literature draws on Indian epics such as the Ramayana but also includes indigenous forms such as Sinxay. There are no important modern novels, although a short story tradition developed under the RLG. Poetry has been a very important form. After 1975 the demand for socialist realist literature produced dreary propaganda, but in the 1990s less politically motivated literature and poems were published.
Graphic arts are almost totally dependent on traditional Buddhist themes, which are expressed in an architectural form as murals or carvings on temple doors and window shutters. There is no developed practice of the fine arts, and cartooning disappeared after 1975. The other main form of visual art is silk and cotton woven cloth with elaborate and subtle patterns and colors.
Before 1975, performances of the Ramayana were patronized by the king, and there were some attempts at privately sponsored modern theater. After 1975, there were attempts to produce revolutionary theater. As the state tried to retraditionalize itself in the 1990s, it revived performances of the Ramayana. The actors and dancers are trained at the school for fine arts in Vientiane, and a similar school has been established in Luang Prabang. Puppetry and shadow plays have almost disappeared. Performances in which a male or female singer improvises or sings standard songs accompanied by an instrumental orchestra are still employed at important local celebrations. Popular songs leave politics aside and often deal with romantic love.