The Difficulties of Artists Under Tokyo’s Cultural Policy for the Year 2020: The Subsidization of Socially Engaged Arts

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 10:45
Oral Presentation
Kaori TAKAHASHI, RIkkyo University, Japan
In 2020, Tokyo will host the Olympic games. An anticipation for the games can explain the proliferation of subsidized cultural projects in the area, large-scale and grassroots alike. Over most of the last decade, it seems that there have been "grants bubbles" in Japan, especially in Tokyo. A number of actors have contributed to this situation, including those in government, the citizenry, and the art community.

Artists could benefit by corroborating with other actors, which could promote a discussion about art and its relationship to the surrounding society. Though most artists who will engage in upcoming cultural projects are formally educated in their field and are aware of the roles of the art world, many of them have had relatively little chance to learn about society. For that reason, many artists struggle with societal restrictions concerning their projects. Rules set by local communities, the concerns of neighbors, and the history of the area may cause dilemmas and difficulties for artists.

By using documentary research and interviews, this presentation analyzes the role of artists who join arts projects and collaborate with other actors because of their difficulties with societal restrictions. Most of them join “socially engaged art” projects (Helguera 2011). Collaboration with multiple actors can create new values, ideas, and benefits for the surrounding community. What, though, are the benefits for artists? Is collaboration valuable for an artist’s career? How does collaboration affect artists, and why might they join either locally or socially engaged art projects?

The current cultural environment creates significant problems for the art world in Japan, and causes confusion for the career model of an artist. In addition, short-term subsidies make it difficult for artists to create strong relationships with other actors. Because of this situation, "grants bubbles" might cause problems for artists, the art world, and society.