Culture center generates excitement, controversy

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Culture center generates excitement, controversy

The controversial Asia Culture Center (ACC) in Gwangju will officially open on Wednesday, with ambitions of becoming an Asian epicenter for innovative and competitive cultural content over the next several years.

“What will differentiate us from other art centers is that we will be creating and planning cultural content,” ACC President Bang Sun-gyu told reporters on Thursday. “There will be studios with high-tech audio and visual equipment, as well as research and development centers where people can explore various technologies.”

Bang added that the ACC will be collaborating with various institutions at home and abroad, adding that currently in the works is a whole new concept of media performance invested in by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and a private company. He also said the ACC will offer various residency programs for artists while also strengthening its archives and libraries.

Given that the Korean government over the past 10 years has invested a whopping 800 billion won ($663 million) of taxpayer money in the facility, the ACC has been under much scrutiny.

The fact that the 161,237-square-meter (1.7 million-square-foot) facility was being built at the site of an old South Jeolla government building - which is somewhat a symbol of the Gwangju Democratization Movement in the 1980s - further ignited public controversy, particularly over just how the new facility will convey the era and honor the victims, while at the same time emerging as a major cultural hub in the whole of Asia.

Bang said he believes the ACC should seek to deliver not necessarily historical facts about the movement, as there are already museums and memorial centers, but rather the spirit of the movement.

He particularly noted that the ACC will also have a strong appeal to children, the future generation of the country, offering various cultural performances, education programs and rides. “The culture facility for children measures 16,430 square meters, the largest in Korea.”

Organizers also believe the new center will boost tourism to Gwangju and nearby cities. “We believe the ACC can be a landmark of Gwangju,” he said. “It also has the potential to become one of the main tourist attractions in the Jeolla region.”

For weeks after the opening, the organizers have planned a wealth of cultural activities to drum up interest in the venue. They include a meeting of culture ministers from Korea and Central Asian countries, an Indian culture festival, an Asian storytelling festival, a new media festival titled “Tektonics” and a children’s museum fair.

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