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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 November 3 - 9  > Gov't should fulfil responsibility to save culture and arts from crisis
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2021 November 3 - 9 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Gov't should fulfil responsibility to save culture and arts from crisis

November 4, 2021

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

November 3 is Culture Day, a national holiday to promote culture. However, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, performances and events in many genres, including music, plays, and traditional performing arts, were postponed or cancelled after the then Abe government made a public request to "refrain" from holding gatherings in February last year. A restriction on audience sizes was applied even after performances and events were scaled back, causing a sharp drop in the income of artists, art-affiliated companies, and event organizers.

A survey conducted between February and April this year by the Arts and Culture Forum which consists of 23 organizations related to culture and the arts shows that business revenues from artistic activities in 2020 decreased by 50-80% compared to 2019 in almost all genres of performing arts. Revenues in the movie industry in 2020 fell by 45.1% from the previous year. According to the PIA Research Institute, the total revenue of the live entertainment market will go down by 56% to 278.7 billion yen in 2021 compared to 2019. Also, revenues in the music market and of the theatrical and dance performance market are expected to shrink by 62% and 42%, respectively, from the 2019 levels. The Arts and Culture Forum said that 35.4% of its member organizations have no prospects of resuming their activities in 2021.

The government allocated 200 billion yen in the FY 2020 initial budget and supplementary budgets combined as coronavirus countermeasures to support the arts and cultural industries. This is an achievement due to the efforts made by those who are involved in the sector, proving that their call has influence in moving politics. However, as the holding of new events was a condition for applying for government subsidies, a preposterous situation emerged.

Out of the 8,600 events under examination for government aid in March, 6,000 were unsuccessful. This was because most events were cancelled due to the increasing number of infections. Having to refund the tickets, event organizers were hit very hard as a result of having planned the new events. It was putting the cart before the horse.

The government ruled by the Liberal Democratic and Komei parties is refusing to provide compensation to make up for losses of earnings induced by the government "stay-at-home request". The government since the second Abe regime has been promoting a "money-making culture". Supporting only the profitable arts and culture will undermine cultural diversity. In order to protect the arts and culture during the coronavirus crisis, the government should fulfill its responsibility and shift from its adherence to neoliberalism in its cultural policy.

Past related articles:
> Shii eager to create 'culture and arts recovery fund' with cross-party effort [January 15, 2021]
> Gov’t should work to revive arts and culture from devastation of COVID-19 [November 2, 2020]
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