Aid for Culture and the Arts

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Aid for Culture and the Arts

To establish and revise cultural policies, specialists working in different cultural sectors, together with ordinary citizens, should reflect deeply on the overall situation of Korea''s arts and culture and examine carefully the successes and failures of current cultural policies, including the way government aid has been used. And they should also judge strictly in selecting those areas that need more financial aid and those that need curtailment, so as to avoid extemporaneous policies and temporary measures. The level of awareness shown by the Korean government and its consultative institutions lies in the fact that some important cultural policies are being established on the basis of telephone polls. So it is not surprising that there have been movements to abolish the Korea Culture and Arts Promotion Fund without first suggesting any substitute funding source.

If the Korea Culture and Arts Promotion Fund disappears, our country''s weak culture and art sector will wither and freeze to death from the deficiency of sunshine and nutrition. The National Assemblyman who criticized the government grant given to the opera Hwangjinie might think that supporting the opera is equivalent to supporting the livelihood of its composers and singers. But a person who lives in a society where high quality art abounds would be able to gain refined insights, because of that atmosphere, even if he never went to see an opera. And if Korea were recognized by the world not as a nation of overnight millionaires, but as a nation with a refined culture, it would be a great help directly and indirectly in every sphere of international interchanges, including diplomacy and trade.

Therefore, paying for the Korea Culture and Arts Promotion Fund is not a one-sided matter of spending money, but of getting huge benefits through small payments, which could not be achieved by personal investment and perseverance alone. The abolition of this foundation just to appease the public shows not only the government''s neglect of culture and art but also its lack of confidence in benefits for the people.

The government must provide a new fundamental structure for the promotion of culture and the arts that is acceptable to the public. It should also reveal to the public its specific plans and the amount of aid in order to win citizens'' agreement and understanding about the culture and arts promotion fund, so that Korea does not fall back into the level of culturally low-developed countries. But, under the reality of the diversion of tax money to political funds, it may be very difficult to persuade the people of the need for quasi-taxes.

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