The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
An Overview
Jun. 9, 2010
Arts Management Education in Universities  
Arts Management Education in Universities  


Arts management courses and departments were first established at Japanese universities and other institutions of higher education in the 1990s. More than 50 schools now offer some form of education in this field. These programs aim to “link society and the arts” or “change society by means of the arts,” and they are not limited to university campuses. In some cases, universities themselves are getting involved as major players in arts management.

There are four reasons which account for the rise in arts management education. First of all, a 1980 public opinion survey revealed that the number of people seeking “emotional fulfillment” was greater than the number seeking “material fulfillment.” This shows that people have become more interested in the arts than before. Second, the favorable economic conditions of the 1980s encouraged local governments (prefectural and municipal) to construct large numbers of art museums, concert halls, theaters, artists’ studios, and other cultural facilities. Third, both the national and local governments increased public subsidies for the arts, thus leading to the need for personnel who could make artistic organizations run smoothly and deal with public funding institutions.

The fourth factor involved the circumstances of the individual universities. With fewer children being born, universities began looking into possible reforms during the 1980s, and this included taking a close look at arts management as a new type of personnel training on which universities and faculties could stake their survival. Traditional arts-oriented universities were motivated to go into arts management as they realized that their previous efforts had not succeeded in linking the arts to society.

Examples and Trends

Japan’s first university courses in arts management were taught by the Faculty of Literature at Keio University in 1991. They were set up according to the concept of nurturing a good audience. Presently the courses are open to working people, and the Research Center for Art and Arts Administration has sponsored the development of a graduate-level course that emphasizes marketing and incorporates methodology taught at the Harvard Business School. In 2005, a graduate course for mature students with work experience in the field was established.

The first arts university to set up a department of arts management was Showa University of Music which established a Department of Music and Arts Management as a part of its Faculty of Music in 1994. When the department was first founded, it invited instructors from overseas universities, such as UCLA and Golden Gate University, to conduct American-style arts management education, including courses that incorporated marketing, organizational theory, cultural policy, and the cultural environment.

Showa University of Music has a strong relationship with the Fujiwara Opera Company, one of Japan’s major private opera companies, and it produces fully-fledged operas on campus as a practical learning experience for its students. It has also linked up with the Koidegô Cultural Hall, a public theater in Niigata Prefecture. Performers teach and perform at the university with their students, who are then also sent to perform at other halls. The Showa campus moved to new facilities in 2007, and now has a large hall that seats 1,367, a medium-size hall (359) and a small hall (180), all of which are actively being used for concerts.

Just as arts universities naturally have instructors and students engaged in artistic activities, arts management courses also consist of more than mere lectures. In most cases, students pursue practically oriented activities. In 1997, the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music opened its Center for Musical Performance as a facility for shared use on campus. It provides a venue where artists can create new, integrated works of theatrical art. The Faculty of Fine Arts is also carrying out a variety of art events in its Ueno Town Art Museum located in Taito Ward where the school’s main offices are located. In Toride, Ibaraki Prefecture, the location of the Inter Media Art Department of the Faculty of Fine Arts, the university has led the local government, community, and students in working together to plan and implement the outdoor Toride Art Project. In Yokohama, where the school’s Graduate School of Film and New Media is located, the city is cooperating with various activities to create expressions of the city’s logo “The City of Film Culture.”

Kyoto University of Art and Design, where Kabuki actor Ichikawa En’nosuke served as vice-president (he has since been succeeded by lyricist Akimoto Yasushi and architect Yokouchi Toshihito), constructed the Kyoto Performing Arts Center, consisting of the 800-seat ShunjyÛza and the 200-seat Studio 21, in 2001. This facility is used not only as a venue for education and training but has also as a regional theater, with resident producers staging productions for a general audience. Students in the departments of film and of performing arts are not the only ones to use this arts center: those in the weaving and dyeing course produce draperies, those in the Fashion Design Department put on fashion shows, the Information Design Department produces posters and flyers, the Spatial Production Design Department works on stage production, and students in the Japanese and Western Painting Department make lobby displays. When the university puts on dramatic productions, trained students are in charge of what happens both onstage and backstage.
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