Inviting Korean artists to Edinburgh

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Inviting Korean artists to Edinburgh

Paul Gudgin, director of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, is visiting Korea for the first time to promote Korean artists’ participation in the festival and international networking among artists.
The Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture, which invited Mr. Gudgin, had a press briefing yesterday to discuss the Edinburgh and other European festivals.
The festival, held every August in Edinburgh, Scotland, presents all types of performances. According to Mr. Gudgin, around 17,000 performers take part every year. “Few of them make much money, and some lose money, but they continue to flock to Edinburgh in ever-greater numbers because they want to get noticed,” he said.
“There are almost 2,000 journalists in Edinburgh during August. There is a better chance of your show being covered by a major newspaper at the Festival Fringe than in almost any other place in the world,” he said.
Mr. Gudgin said that the Korean show “Nanta,” called “Cookin’” in English, came to Edinburgh in 1999 and received good reviews. “The show was very popular with audiences and was subsequently picked up by promoters to tour. On a recent trip to New York I noticed that it was still playing there,” he said.
Mr. Gudgin also noted the growing power of Asian performances at the festival. “The Asian performances are very competitive,” he said. “They are fresh, original and challenging to Western audiences.”
He added, “Asian works are something that we cannot see every day in Western countries. The works were previously recognized in their own countries before they came to Edinburgh. So they have artistic and financial competitiveness and a strong will to be recognized at the festival.”
He said the festival has changed over time. “There were times when the festival was political. It was sometimes experimental,” said Mr. Gudgin. “Now it is more ‘crossover,’ having many cross-cultural performances.”
Festivals also benefit society, he added. “A festival is where performances, artists, planners and audiences gather together. The growing cultural awareness among people has made festivals more popular. Also festivals help a nation’s economy,” he said.
Mr. Gudgin is holding meetings with performance organizers in Korea to share detailed information on participating in the Edinburgh festival and strategies to maintain the festival’s success.

by Choi Sun-young
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