The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
An Overview
Private-Sector Support for Culture and the Arts
Private-Sector Support for Culture and the Arts
Private-Sector Support for the Infrastructure Sustaining Creative Activity in the Performing Arts

The Toyota Choreography Awards were established as a collaborative project of Toyota Motor Corporation and Setagaya Public Theatre for the purpose of discovering and fostering choreographers to lead the next generation. Eight choreographers selected from applicants give performances of their works over a two-day period, and the NEXTAGE Award and two Audience Award winners are chosen from among them. The NEXTAGE winner receives two million yen from Toyota to create a new work of choreography, and the Setagaya Public Theatre provides the use of its stage, Theatre Tram, to present it the following year.

These awards, established in 2002, take place every two years and have made great strides in the discovery and nurturing of new choreographers. Distinguishing this as an attempt to foster creative activity in the performing arts rather than simple funding is the fact that the support is for the choreography, not the performance, and choreographers are awarded a grant and an opportunity to present their new work. Moreover, the awards also represent a new form of Mécénat in that theater directors from other countries are invited to be judges, and the event involves sharing expertise and networks of contemporary dance producers.

Kirin Brewery Co., Ltd. has similarly been active in supporting dance. Kirin Dance Support was established in 2002 for the purpose of encouraging contemporary dance by funding award-winning works and making it possible for them to be performed throughout the country. Grants go to contemporary dance works that have won the Asahi Performing Arts Awards. Active support is also provided for other forms of dance performance, such as the contemporary dance series entitled 21st Century Dance at Setagaya Public Theatre.

Asahi Breweries, Ltd. is another corporation actively supporting the performing arts. The basic policy for this corporation’s Mécénat program is to fund original and innovative artistic activity and to assist up-and-coming artists in the fields of drama and dance, with significant results.

Another recent trend has been for multiple corporations to engage in joint Mécénat activities. One example is the Arts NPO Forum mentioned above, while the Tokyo International Arts Festival has also played an important role in international exchange in the performing arts and is supported by a number of corporations, among them Asahi Breweries, Ltd., Shiseido Co., Ltd., Toyota Motor Corporation, and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. (Panasonic). Private-sector support for the sponsoring NPO has made it possible to conduct the festival on an ongoing basis. Examples of local Mécénat support for live performances include Atelier Kitano, founded by Kitano Construction Corporation and located on the main thoroughfare leading up to Nagano’s Zenkôji Temple. The Piccadilly, a movie theater that had closed in Matsumoto City, was re-opened as Piccadilly Hall by the Shinano-Mainichi Matsumoto Monopoly Co., Ltd. A manufacturer and retailer of fashion accessories Tanzawa Co., Ltd. has been instrumental in reviving the operations of Sakura-za, a small theater in Yamanashi Prefecture for the works of dancer Tanaka Min.

Over the past 20 years, therefore, private-sector support has undergone a dramatic metamorphosis in its active support for the arts, chiefly in its financial support for performances and exhibitions. Corporations consider Mécénat activities as a part of corporate social responsibility, emphasizing local art and culture activities along with creative activity in the performing arts and joint projects with art NPOs. One important element in this change has been the way that Mécénat coordinators have begun to consider how support should be provided and where it should be channeled in order to stimulate development of the arts in Japan, examining these issues in light of past achievements and experience and from a strategic, long-term perspective. No doubt the support provided by private-sector corporations and foundations will come to play an increasingly important role in terms of international exchange in the performing arts.
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