Kobe City Cultural Policy


By Masahito HATANAKA, Assistant Director, International Division, City of Kobe

1. A brief outline of Kobe City

2. Culture in Kobe, a comparatively new city

3. Cultural Policy
- The city supports culture built on initiative.
- Cultural policy is targeted at 2 groups of people; citizens (those who enjoy the culture) and specialists and artists (those who create it). The city implements support policies for each of these groups.

(1) Citizens

(a) Providing the general public with access to city facilities as venues for cultural activities Main facilities: Ward Residents’ Centers (10 halls around the city) – available for such activities as musical performances and art exhibitions. (Budget¥1,169,000,000)

(b) Specialist art activities – giving professional artists the opportunity to exhibit their work

- Administration of Kobe Bunka Hall (Budget ¥783,700,000)

Large Hall (2,043 seating capacity), Medium Hall (910 seating capacity), Small Hall (433 seating capacity), rehearsal space (1,118m²)

Performances: classical music, ballet, Kabuki, Noh drama, theatre, etc. (41 performances planned in 2001)

- Administration of Kobe City Museum (Kobe Board of Education) (Budget ¥204,300,000)
- Administration of Koiso Memorial Museum of Art (Kobe Board of Education) (Budget ¥343,800,000)
- Duo Gallery – exhibitions held by the city

(2) Specialists engaged in cultural activities

(a) Backing for artists’ organizations

- ‘Arts and Culture Council’ (budget ¥7,300,000)
- ‘Kobe Musical Performance Society’ (budget ¥272,000,000)
- Kobe Chamber Music Ensemble, Kobe Mixed Choir, Urban Opera House
- Cultural Promotion Foundation (budget ¥318,000,000)

(b) Artist recognition projects

(i) Nurturing new talent

- Koiso Ryohei Grand Prize Exhibition (Grand Prize ¥10,000,000. Held once every 2 years)
- Kobe International Flute Contest (Grand Prize ¥2,000,000. Held once every 4 years since 1985) (ii) Rewarding established talent
- Kobe Culture Awards
- Incentive Awards (¥1,000,000 - 2 recipients), Culture Award (¥300,000, 5 recipients)
- Merit Awards (¥100,000 – 10 recipients)

(c) Backing for arts and cultural activities (budget ¥29,000,000)

- 1/2 of venue fees (limited to ¥200,000)
- 1/4 of total project costs (limited to ¥2,000,000)
- Mainly aimed at theatre, art exhibitions and musical performances

(d) Projects implemented by the city

- Performances at Art Village; theatre (supporting youth theatre groups and young talent)
- Public art within urban planning; installing sculpture in municipal parks, alongside roads, etc.
- Kobe Fresh Concert; providing an opportunity for performances by new artists, nurturing new musical talent

3. The future

Up until now, cultural policy in Kobe has been either planned and implemented by the city government itself, or support has been given to cultural activities selected by the city government. However, within the existing framework of the city’s cultural affairs administration, current cultural activities have evolved to such a dimension that the cultural policy cannot cover them all.

(1) Increase in activities beyond the scope of the cultural affairs administration
Policies pertaining strictly to arts and culture are becoming watered down. It has become essential that we mobilize the city’s other policies.

(2) The expansion of cultural activities and the limits of the existing cultural policy
New arts activities are being undertaken. Whereas up until now arts activities have been centered around traditional institutions such as concert halls, theatres and art galleries, we are looking into new wave of arts activities using currently vacant buildings and warehouses which artists would have easy access to and be able to use freely. Again, with this new wave of art activities, there will be instances where the existing cultural affairs organizations will have difficulty coping, so other departments will deal with them.

- Performance art, IT-related activities, etc.

(3) Changes on the part of artists

Independent artists are emerging. Proposals for cooperative projects between artists and the city government are also emerging. Artists are developing new arts projects outside of the boundaries of city policy. It is thought that this new wave of arts activities will have greater public appeal and form a new artistic trend. The city is considering supporting such projects as a new direction in its cultural affairs policy.

(4) Prospects for the C.A.P project

We expect C.A.P to make full use of the facilities Kobe has at its disposal. As such projects continue to develop beyond the extent of the city’s current cultural affairs policy through trial and error, C.A.P could well grow to become a role model.

November 13, 2001