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Actors and artists demand increase in budget for culture

Japanese actors and artists are collecting signatures to call on the government to allocate more to the budget for culture.

It is the first time for the Japan Council of Performers' Organizations (Geidankyo), which consist of about 90,000 affiliated members, to carry out a signature-collecting drive of this kind.

The government allocates only 102 billion yen or 0.11% of budget expenditure for cultural programs. This is very low compared to France 0.81%, South Korea 0.73%, Germany 0.39%, and Britain 0.24% (Cultural Affairs Agency, as of 2009).

In the name of cost-cutting efforts, however, the government decided to reduce or end many cultural programs. It also plans to halve the amount of government subsidies to art organizations within three years.

Geidankyo President Nomura Man, a traditional dance-drama actor (noh-gaku-shi) said, "The government has announced a policy to reduce the amount of the budget allocated for performing art programs as part of its budget-slashing measures. We think that the FY 2010 culture-related budget will be the starting point in the government's plans for its reduced interest in cultural affairs which will affect the future of Japanese arts and culture. We call on not only the performers concerned, but also concerned citizens and non-citizen alike to sign our petition calling for an increase in the cultural budget."

Other than Nomura, those who have already signed the petition include more than 100 representatives from organizations of entertainers, including stand-up comedians (manzai-shi), comic storytellers (rakugo-ka), orchestral musicians, film directors, and theatre companies.

- Akahata, September 12, 2010

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