Culture Ministry's Ineffective 'Year of New Arts'

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Culture Ministry's Ineffective 'Year of New Arts'

Previously thinking themselves lucky, dance troupes chosen for the 'Year of New Arts' unexpected and incomprehensible letter from the promotion committee managing (or mis-managing) this year's promotion to help foster more interest in the performing arts by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Financing being the bane of existence for any artist or performance company, the letters sent by the Ministry, instead of offering more support or money, were notifying the alarmed performance artists that they would be owing money. Besides the benign request to cooperate in the joint brochure to be produced for this year's series of events, were awkward statements which now one could understand. What the letters seemed to indicate was that the committee would charge be expecting a portion of the profits made from ticket sales if outside funding, outside of the committee's aid, had helped in finding and funding the performance venue, with the committee demanding a huge 30 percent. If the committee was only indirectly aiding the performance troupes, then only 5 percent would be expected.

Without any expectations that this large amount would be demanded, dance and art troupes were understandibly upset. Despite already present money difficulties, one performer commented that there was, in the letter, no explination where the money would go, or "on what basis this deicision was made." Some art troupes are so disturbed by this turn in events that they are refusing any funding from the committee. "The committee should not be taking a cut of what are already non-existant profits."

In the midst of the uproar, one company in charge of managing the project events threatening to take this to court and calling on other groups to reject performing under the Ministry's "Year of New Arts" banner. The event organizers had already secured private sponsorship before it was given the "Year of New Arts" designation.

In their defence, a committee member explained that their decision was through committee consensus. The funding supplied by the Ministry was "not enough", and according to the committee, a portion of the funds were to be used for their office support expenses.

Noh Tae-sop, head of the Ministry's section in charge of fine arts said that they would become "involved in the matter, and help rectify the situation."

Five months ago was the kick-off of the 'Year of New Arts'. However, these five months, a year where performances were to flourish, have seen only one troupe performing under this banner and in a small urban centre. The Year of New Arts seems so far to have been another botched attempt to promote the arts. Pity.

by Kim Hyon-jong

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