Local and Contemporary: Community-Based Art Initiatives in Southern Ibaraki, Japan

Herbeth L. Fondevilla


In contrast to the nation's capital Tokyo, Japan's more distant urban areas are declining due to their aging populations, low birth rates and the migration of many of the remaining youth to more prosperous cities. Ibaraki prefecture, north of Tokyo, is no stranger to this phenomenon, with cities such as Joso and Toride struggling to rejuvenate their waning communities. In 1999, Toride city in partnership with Tokyo University of the Arts initiated the community-based Toride Art Project (TAP). TAP has been a model for community-based art projects, drawing participation from the city government, Tokyo University of the Arts and its citizens. Focusing on creating an artistic environment where local people are exposed to art in daily life and providing young artists with opportunities to exhibit their artworks, TAP has been actively trying to integrate urban life with the arts. Joso city is similarly faced with the problem of revitalising the city and creating visitor interest. As a response, the city government spearheaded an art initiative called Machinaka in 2006. By encouraging its citizens to interact with artists, and placing artworks in alternative spaces such as disused frameworks, antiquated buildings and open areas, Machinaka is challenging the way art is being displayed and appreciated. As more popularly known art festivals located in the rural areas of Japan such as Echigo Tsumari and Setouchi gain ground, community-based art initiatives have become vital in restoring interest in otherwise unknown localities. An examination of TAP and Machinaka will explore the operations, sustainability and challenges that such projects face.


urban regeneration; arts and culture; arts management; public art

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Asia Pacific Journal of Arts and Cultural Management; ISSN 1449-1184
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