Arts center aims to draw the crowdsAlthough Seoul does not have landmark performing arts facilities such as the Sydney Opera House, City Hall officials have been making efforts to set up a cultural infrastructure in the heart of the city. One such effort is the ChungMu Art Hall, an ambitious four-year project overseen by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Jung District Office to create state-of-the art cultural facilities in central Seoul.
The hall opened on March 25, with a performance by the Eurasian Philharmonic Orchestra, led by conductor Gum Nan-se. Performances to celebrate the opening of the facility will continue until April 30, including concerts by the KBS Symphony Orchestra, the Korean Symphony, Seoul Baroque Ensemble and singer Kim Soo-chul, and magic performances by illusionist Lee Eun-gyeol, as well as Nanta, the hit non-verbal performance. During this period, all tickets will be priced at 30,000 won ($30) or less.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Jung District Office spent 94.8 billion won to create the ChungMu Art Hall, which includes two theaters, an art gallery, convention center, play area, and even a sports center. The facility is located in Heungin-dong, near the Dongdaemun area.
The main attraction is the 809-seat Grand Theater, which includes a Steinway grand piano worth 100 million won. The theater is spacious, with cutting edge sound and lighting systems.
Because of the superior sound system, microphones are not necessarily required when performing classical pieces. The Grand Theater will mostly be used for musical performances. The Small Theater, with 327 seats, is a cozy performance hall with a circular stage for better viewing. This area will mostly be used for family and children’s performances.
The ChungMu Art Hall aims to become a comprehensive art and culture space in Seoul. Mr. Gum will teach “Music Academy” courses to ordinary citizens later this year on the sixth floor of the hall. He will not have to pay rent for using the space, but instead will conduct four performances per year. Other famous artists such as Kim Deuk-su, a traditional dance performer of samulnori, will also participate in “volunteer performances” in the hall.
The facility will also operate the ChungMu Art Academy, providing courses in opera, musicals, fine arts, jazz and singing, among others.
The sports facilities include an outdoor golf driving range, adult and children’s swimming pools, and facilities to learn yoga, fencing and ballet. There is even a fitness center with an advanced diagnostic system.
The Junggu Cultural Foundation, a non-profit organization under the Jung District Office, will administer the ChungMu Art Hall. For more information, call (02) 2230-6624~6 or visit www.cmah.or.kr. Parking spaces are available for 170 cars.
by Choi Jie-ho