KAB Dialogue


August 7, 2014 UP

Report of Artist-in-Residence in current-day

Kyoto Arts Core Network 3rd regular meeting

  • Reporter:Aya Aoshima

Kyoto Arts Core Network (hereinafter referred to as the KACN) was established in July 2013 as a network organization to encourage the interaction between people involved in specialist activities that support the cultural arts in Kyoto. So far, KACN has held meetings and events and is expanding its activities and function as an information exchange hub for people involved in specialist activities that support the cultural arts in Kyoto. In attempt to be connected with another network, KACN held the third regular meeting in corporation with AIR Network Preparatory Committee which aims to build network among Artist-in-Residence (hereinafter referred to as AIR) administrators. The cases of AIR programs, the possibilities of networking in arts and culture were actively discussed. I would like to report it in details.

1.The diversity of AIR:

"Artist-in-Residence" is a title that we often hear in arts and culture's field. "In residence" means "live or to stay" and is "in residence" Artist, who is a residence stay on land in certain period of time, to perform a variety of creative activity, research, work production, and exchange. That System call Air will support all of those activities. AIR network Preparatory Committee, which was established in November 2013 for dissemination of information about the current state of domestic and foreign construction of national network of organizations and human resources, which operates the AIR project to interact. On the other hand, KACN Secretariat-Kyoto Art Center is also the AIR organizes operated for more than 10 years since the very beginning.
In the first half of the meeting, three presentations were made by AIR Network Preparatory Committee. For the first presentation, the introduction of AIR, with its current state and history, was made by Sachiko Kannno (Program Coordinator, Japan Foundation) who has been involved in networking of AIR and is also familiar with AIR programs abroad. For the second presentation, Sadako Hinuma (Rikuzen Takada AIR director/Joshibi University of Art and Design) introduced the AIR networks in Japan and overseas and how they work. Mami Odai, the director of Move arts Japan made the last presentation introducing the activities of "Move arts Japan” which is getting attention as new promotion of the mobility of artists.
The number of AIR program in Japan is grasped about 60, but it could be more if small AIR programs are included. I have been involved in the residence program for about 7 years and there is an impression that the number of AIR administrators increased rapidly in these few years. It’s the result of the continuous steady activities of groups working on AIR program, and also the subsidy from the Agency for Cultural Affairs that enabled to run many AIR programs.
It was also introduced that there are diverse programs derived from AIR program such as Artist in Company, Artist in School, Artist in Hospital expecting an effect of so-called "Marebito", taking an artist as outsider into an organization to suggest new idea. On the other hand, it was pointed out that dispatching information on AIR in Japan to overseas is not enough. Also pointed out was that it’s difficult to evaluate AIR with numbers, and it’s not familiar in Japan to evaluate process of creation and culture without numbers. In the second half of the meeting, discussion on the need of networking of AIR administrators went on while case studies of diverse AIR programs being introduced. I would like to introduce the program that impressed me.

2)Movement and settlement of artist: Approach of Move arts Japan and HAPS

 The approach of Move arts Japan (http://movearts.jp) that has just been renewed in March as a "Trip-site for artists" is quite interesting. In usual AIR program, AIR administrator chooses the artist and the artist would work on creative activity in the purpose of the program. On the other hand, Move arts Japan is not an AIR program per se, but an AIR program search site that artists can match programs and facilities depending on their purpose. So it functions like TripAdviser. The purposes why artists move vary like creation, presentation, research, relaxation, new encounter, cultural experience and etc. So are the purposes of the AIR administrators. With reversal approach from conventional AIR, Move arts Japan is greatly anticipated to be the system that promote movement and mobility of artists with enriched information.
In contrast, "Higashiyama Artists Placement Service (HAPS)" encourages young artists to settle in Kyoto. HAPS Executive Director, Mizuki Endo says, with making introductory remarks that HAPS has slightly different aim from AIR, that it’s one style of AIR to welcome artists in the community and to encourage their settlement. HAPS goes beyond supporting of creation and housing for the artist, they provide a various supports for artists to build careers. For example, functioning as a mediator to invite curator to Kyoto from overseas, organizing lecture of how to make portfolio in English for those going abroad, and providing information and consultation on residency opportunities in overseas. While encouraging short term mobility of artists by offering fine career support for individuals, HAPS aims to have them come back and settle down in Kyoto in a long term. AIR of Move arts Japan and HAPS have contrasting purposes, “movement and settlement”, but they are both supports that are offered with artists’ point of view.
Other cases were also reported including “Kyoto Machiya AIR” jointly hosted by Japans Cultureel Centrum (Netherlands) and Kyoto Center for Community Collaboration, “Feldstärke International” , a short term delegation type of AIR over 3 countries, hosted by Kyoto Art Center this summer, research of using closed schools for arts, and introduction of microresidence. Please refer to the list of given cacses of AIR programs in the end for the details.

3) Possibilities and challenges of arts networking

 The origin of AIR was a simple goal of providing an environment to an artist to concentrate on creative work in a new community. However, what is distinctive about current AIR is that it’s tied with various society phenomena and problems including environmental issues, community promotion, politics, gender, pop culture, and is regarded as a key for the solutions and encouragement for them. Hinuma, from AIR Network Preparatory Committee, express this situation as “AIR=social apparatus”. As shown in cases before, it’s not easy to regard AIR program, which is given various roles, as a ground-breaking system in this society that is changing in a complex way. Then, what could be the meaning of having network among diverse AIR activities.
In latter discussion, KACN raised a question, "What is the possibility of networking other than interaction of people and exchange of information?” In actual fields, AIR administrators are having troubles that they’re too busy managing the AIR programs so that they can’t dispatch information, evaluate or give feedback to the activities of artists enough. The motivation for establishing AIR Network Preparatory Committee is the aim to make useful system in the field by the AIR administrators’ interaction and sharing issues. For the functions of the system, the followings were pointed out; think tank, archiving, disseminating information to overseas, networking, research, and consulting. By networking, creating a system that enables the AIR administrators to be connected. It is significant to make the meaning and the social position of AIR clear by networking. However, it’s important to understand that, for artists, AIR is a method to create and show their works, not the social system that AIR administrators are intending.
Having discussion among various viewpoints about the issue of both two networks “What is the possibility that network of arts and culture can achieve?”, I thought network is like a living thing. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it doesn’t, but it needs to be well cared and renewed continuously. While aiming to build effective network and system, I hope this network will be utilized by both artists and AIR administrators with freedom and flexibility and will be renewed continuously to be tough and pliable.

the list of given cases of AIR programs:

Kyoto Art Center, Artist in Residence
Feldstärke International
Move arts Japan
Higashiyama Artists Placement Service
Art spaces in former schools
Kyoto Machiya Air/Japans Cultureel Centrum


Aya Aoshima

former Art Coordinator at Kyoto Art Center, currently working as International Coordinator at Kyoto City University of Arts, organizing international art exchanges, invitation of artists from overseas, and AIR programs. Also organizing music events as a freelance art coordinator. currently enrolled in Musicology program at Graduate School of Letters / School of Letters, Osaka University

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