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8 Years of the PAMS, Changes in the Performing Arts Market
 8 Years of the PAMS, Changes in the Performing Arts Market
Writer : Yumi Hwangbo_Chief Editor, weekly@KAMS/theApro 2013.10.15 Asia > Korea

8 Years of the PAMS, Changes in the Performing Arts Market
[Festivals/Markets] Discussion ①_ Review of the Past 8 Years of the Performing Arts Market in Seoul – International Distribution

In 2014, the PAMS will celebrate its 10th anniversary. Before starting the 9th PAMS, two discussion sessions took place in order to review the PAMS’ achievements of the past eight years and to discuss the establishment of a future-oriented form of market. To help you have a future outlook for the PAMS, here is what was discussed during the sessions.

M J CHOUN (Moderator) : Over the past eight years, the Performing Arts Market in Seoul (PAMS) has contributed to making many changes in the performing arts market, particularly in the area of international exchange. Let us discuss this matter.

Kyu CHOI : The past eight years of the PAMS could be divided into three periods. First, from 2005 to 2008, Korean performances were little known abroad. Many criticized the PAMS, saying, “Is a ‘market’ an appropriate means for Korea?” or “Isn’t the PAMS excessively selling what is sellable?” Nevertheless, this period mostly served as an occasion to raise awareness of Korean performances in a comprehensive manner. Thus, during the second period, strategic plans for entry into overseas markets were able to be drawn up. In addition, the fundamental direction of the international network, which is not just about selling products abroad, was determined. As “connection projects” were added to the sales-oriented program, we have questioned if discussion is the only thing to do in the market and what could differentiate an Asian market from others. For the past eight years, the direction of international exchange and the reputation of Korean performances changed. I believe that the PAMS also contributed to strengthening the international network.

KIM Shin-ah : The Seoul International Dance Festival (SIDance) was strong at international exchange from the beginning. It is very encouraging and desirable that the PAMS has led to increasing support opportunities but I don’t know if any big difference has been made to the existing technical aspects and network. What is great is that as projects such as the Center Stage Korea (Center Stage) have been launched, artists have been able to enter the global scene by creating projects. From the perspective of policies, the performing arts market has allowed Korean performances to be better known in other countries. Nevertheless, the excessive boom of performing arts projects at the beginning was somewhat worrisome. It was as if something wrong would happen if they didn’t create a project, even if there is no content. We still lack content today.

M J CHOUN: Myeongdong Theater Kyu CHOI: AsiaNow

KIM Shin-ah: Art Producer Claire SUNG: Daejeon Culture & Arts Center

Demand for Changes in the Way of Selecting Participating Works

Moderator : Hasn’t Korea Arts Management Service (KAMS) run programs supporting participation in the Avignon Festival or the Edinburgh International Festival? I believe that many private organizations have benefited from such programs but some people point out that the same organizations appear repeatedly for the PAMS Choice.

Claire SUNG : When the market was launched for the first time, people knew little about it so these organizations may have been asked to participate. I remember that in 2005, I was in the empty garden of the National Theater of Korea. At that time, organizations didn’t know how to participate so nobody came there. Later on, some younger organizations appeared and they were competent enough to enter the global scene, not just through the PAMS but also through the SIDance or the MODAFE. Meanwhile, some theater or multi-genre performance teams didn’t seem to be able to go abroad without the PAMS. I’m not a spokesperson of the theater but since dance doesn’t include any language, it would have adjusted to the international community relatively easily. Of course, because the company “Sadari” and the director Jeong-ung Yang had already been known in other countries so they would have been able to enter the global market without the PAMS. The market can’t do many things. If it plays a role more than a platform or a hub, policies that are excessively led by the public sector (or “policies for policies”) are made and this could lead to less vitality on the spot. However, the PAMS contributed to developing many areas. In Korea, no investment had been made before production but this became possible. Moreover, “residency,” which had been just a concept and which had been carried out in only a small scale by cultural centers, were expanded. Support for research also improved. But “policies for policies” have still existed. It is now time for us to look back the past eight years, whether we divide the period into two parts or three. We also need to discuss what our future direction should be. We must remove what is unnecessary. Singapore and Japan, which participated in the Asian arts market relatively late, have changed anyhow, focusing on young artists or on forums whereas Korea has just expanded its market.

KIM : Some people point out the problem of supporting particular organizations. However, if a work is needed by other countries, such a need should serve as an occasion to prepare its next 10 or 20 years and to enhance the image of Korean performances on the global scene in general. There could be those complaining about the selection results of the Center Stage and the PAMS Choice. Nonetheless, if our goal is to globally distribute the results through the market, we need to focus on gradually strengthening the competitiveness of the content that sell.

CHOI : Criteria of selecting works depend on the mission of a given market. There could be criteria like a work’s “potential to enter the global scene,” “level of quality” and “planning ability.” If the goal of the market is to see the potential to enter the global scene, some say that the spectrum of the Korean theater is wider than expected. That is, there are also text- based works. I believe that this is criticism showing an aspect of the Korean theater’s reality. In any case, there will be criticism of the mission. It could mean that the scope of the performing arts scene hasbecome larger. I believe that criticism of the PAMS’ characteristics could occur. This is in the case of the theater and multi-genre performances. The TPAM in Yokohama (TPAMiY) is multi-genre and author-oriented. The event never selects mainstream artists. We have had many internal discussions and acceptable criticisms are like this. If A Midsummer Night’s Dream by the Travelers is presented more than ten years, it is a problem. It is desirable to present Hamletseveral years later and another work later on, but if just one work is performed, people could criticize that if Korea has only that work. The company itself needs to strengthen its autonomy to deal with this issue.

What Performing Arts Organizations Have Gained from the PAMS

Moderator : What have the organizations that have worked with Asia Now gained from the PAMS?

CHOI : The PAMS has enabled us to establish infrastructure for international exchange and it has played the role of a platform. The PAMS has helped us become familiar with diverse forms of international exchange and it has made the international network more concrete. In that sense, the PAMS has given information to organizations that are unable to enter the global scene or that don’t have any knowhow on such entry, so that they can give it a try. The biggest effect or result of the PAMS is that it has suggested the direction of Korean performing arts’ international exchange.

SUNG : In particular, Korean traditional music doesn’t have a market yet so this genre often attempts international exchange. In the past, there were only two or three organizations including Gongmyeong but recently, about ten organizations have penetrated the market. The PAMS has enabled this. Some people gain money and others, information. You might think that showcasing a performance at the PAMS would suddenly lead to the increase of sales but it is difficult if the work doesn’t reach a certain level of international networking ability and quality. Documents say that the number of overseas participants have increased up to about 200 over the past few years. Among the works selected by the PAMS, more than 100 have entered the global market so I was amazed. I thought of the role of the PAMS. The SPAF is an important festival but without the annual, regular PAMS, it wouldn’t have been that important. If you come to the PAMS, you can always participate in the SPAF. Before the “PAMS Link” program was created, people often asked me what else we have in store except the showcase. So when programming, I came to strategically choose the period of the event and such a “strategic choice” has generated many indirect effects.

Moderator : Of course, it doesn’t mean that only 14 organizations entered the global market in 2006 (the 2nd PAMS), but it implies that more and more organizations have become the “PAMS family.” On one hand, the quantity of information that is available to the PAMS has increased and on the other hand, the overall number of organizations has increased.

KIM : Nevertheless, among these many organizations entering the global market, only few of them perform abroad at least twice a year. Not all of them perform in foreign countries in a stable manner. I don’t think that now is the time to talk about the scale. Artists could now attempt to enter large markets and the scale of Asian works aren’t very overwhelming in scale so people are turningto Asia. For example, Korean dance is very sensuous. What is important is not the number of selected works but the actual sales results that are generated by the power of works. Under the current education system in Korea, it looks difficult to have outstanding choreographers. However, it depends on the market. In Europe, it seems that Korea won’t have any good creators forever whereas in Central and South Americas, they say that Korean creators are excellent. In other words, depending on their perspectives, some markets are appropriate for Korean works while others are not. So it is necessary to spend some time on ensuring the growth of Korean performances by properly distributing them in different markets.

Is the Current Form of the Market Still Valid?

Moderator : The PAMS is a market. Given this, does it just need to distribute works or is there something it could do to enhance the quality of performances? Is support for creation is reserved only for Arts Council Korea? Can’t KAMS participate in such support? These were fundamental questions that have been posed. Some say that since KAMS specializes in distribution and international exchange, it must distribute only the works that were already created.

CHOI : This is about the future of the market. Are the current conditions of the market valid? A market functions under the rule of supply and demand. Then, what is the definition of “market” here? What should be the direction of international exchange that wouldn’t lead to redundancy of tasks carried out by different organizations in charge of international exchange, including KAMS and cultural foundations? These are the questions we need to discuss. As for the last one, it is desirable to combine and share some activities, in order to clarify the characteristics of each institution. Meanwhile, in the case of KAMS, it is right to focus on its “market” and “distribution.” A market has actually nothing at its beginning so it needs to inform people of itself. Afterward, what needs to be discussed is what content is there and what performance teams are great. Up to this point, everything goes smoothly. However, in the case of today’s market, content (or a product) is the most important part and the size and quality of the market differ depending on who the presenter is and how the “matching” work is done. This is the most difficult point. Some people prefer rather experimental works while others enjoy the works that are likely to be accepted by the market. But in a market, it is difficult to calculate demand or to match those who supply and those who demand. Under these circumstances, the Connection Program (Connection) was launched in an attempt to strengthen producers’ artistic capacity from the beginning. At first, it was suggested that only a few markets be explored. Afterward, different forms were made and the Center Stage was launched to widen the spectrum of presenters. If there is something the market can do and can’t do, different programs that the market cannot provide should be created, including the Center Stage, the Connection and anotherpart of the market.

Moderator : From an objective point of view, a market offering many products is expected to attract many people. That is because it isn’t easy to travel long distance to watch just three to four Korean performances which take place in Korea and in a few Asian countries under the theme of the given year. Frankly speaking, for the international audience, it isn’t easy to come to Seoul to visit it so I don’t know if it makes economic sense. To take an example of a foreign country, Yokohama changed to focus on young artists while the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which is a festival and the world’s best arts market at the same time, naturally came to play the role of a market as its history exceeded 60 years. So the audience go to Scotland to watch performances of one and a half hours. Although the festival selects about 20 dances and plays so that the audience can focus on them, they can still enjoy dozens of other works from overseas. Such a size is not comparable to the PAMS. Then, are there any international cases that could be followed by Korea?

CHOI : In the future, the market should be focused more on its “network.” Distribution reaches within its capacity of reach and your knowledge on distribution also depends on the scope of your knowledge. In the case of the Japanese market, they have made and sent only what works. In other words, they have actively supported one team representing Japan. Actually, that is why the Japanese market slowed down. But Yokohama was expanded to non-mainstream forms. There is then this question: should Korea do the same or should it adopt a different form? But if Korea is to maintain its current conditions, it should strengthen its network rather than its distribution. A market requires many factors including changes in and understanding of national policies. In the past, works were completed to be brought to the market but most of today’s young artists bring just a concept and they work on the spot. If that‘s the case, support could be given not to works but to people and more investment could be made not in products but in artists, producers and people.

SUNG : This seems to be a general trend of international exchange. I was often in a position of a buyer rather a seller. Before that, I sold products but these days, more and more people suggest that they produce something with me. There are many reasons for this, including budget reduction. For collaboration, artistic quality, which depends on the artist’s capacity, was considered important in the past while today, other surrounding factors such as policy directions and cultural diversities have become important. Consequently, suggestions of collaboration have grown recently. There are small and large theaters and in many cases, they suggest collaborative pre-production. For example, France’s Odéon-Théâtre de l’EuropeasksKorea’s Daejeon Culture & Arts Center to collaborate. For the past few years, “cultural mobility” has been a major discussion theme globally. Today, it is not necessarily an entire work that is brought abroad but the way the work is produced is customized to a given context and this has become a trend. I don’t want the market to disappear. There should be products that could collaborate with major international organizations. The way that financial support is provided is very rigid and I believe that public organizations must not be excluded from such support. All of this is to ensure the production of great works.

KIM : You suggested that investment be made in artists but there is no way to invest in those who have achieved results and who have brought something special. That would be because we doesn’t have the capacity to conduct research on this matter but it is very difficult and it takes long to create something new. It would be great to develop this area. KAMS’s influence reaches everywhere. It has been important to let everyone know KAMS but we haven’t done enough to properly promote the content that has been provided. Information and content are just piled up, without leaving clear traces.

Strategies of Exchange between People Covering the Site and Policies

Moderator : Lastly, what would be some alternatives for the establishment of a future vision?

SUNG : The roles of KAMS and those of cultural centers should be clarified. In addition, flexibility is needed along with networking and partnership. The roles of cultural centers have been reduced as local cultural foundations have assumed these roles. As KAMS has been expanded quantitatively, it is now time for it to focus on its quality again. KAMS is a public organization so it isn’t provided with funds. But when private theaters, which would have a bigger budget, receive such funds, I become angry. In the administrative procedure, flexible thinking and flexible policy implementation, which are not confined to just legal texts, are needed.

KIM : Lots of documents may have been collected but they haven’t been shared. If a document is sent to five people, it isn’t shared. If they were shared, the volume of information would be enormous.

CHOI : There is no right answer but what is the most important is not to lose one’s missions. The market’s missions are “distribution” and “network.” I believe that production and distribution should be done in a new way. In the past, one work was made to be distributed for about ten years. However, today, we had better not look too far but instead, we should consider distribution of two years after production. In this way, the producer would not take a big risk and it would also be better for the performing company. It is not about bringing an already made performance but about adopting a new way of working. Then, the concept of distribution would have to be understood in a new way and new strategies would be needed along with this. A “network,” whether it is a theater, a festival or a network for collaborative production, should be available in diverse forms in order to survive. But what is the most important is “people.” Investment in people should increase. That is because exchange between people, which can cover both the performing site and policies, will lead to coming up with strategies. But such an endeavor to come up with strategies falls into a stalemate when policies and the performing site function separately. This is where improvements need to be made.

Moderator : The AFAE, which is affiliated to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has played an important role globally, by making international exchange policies and establishing the database of French artists. At the Chalon Festival or the Avignon Festival, their staff knows the tens or even hundreds of works. Regardless of their ages and duties, they are all experts of performing arts. They don’t meet people to ask for producing or support. Instead, each of them works as an intermediary, giving national information to foreign promoters so that they can meet with artists. They have great knowledge on performing arts so they are trusted more and more. I believe that the staff of the PAMS must be like them. However, the PAMS is only eight years old, its staff turnover is high and it cannot form a network, even though everything is about relationships. Wan-ho Maeng of the Goethe Institute has been there for 30 years so everyone in the performing arts scene knows him. The US Institute had Wan-su Kim and the French Institute, Mi-eul Yang. These institutes have a system that can create a network with the data collected by one person for dozens of years. Today, KAMS should overcome its limit of not being able to train a professional staff. And its staff should actively meet people to accumulate their knowledge. What KAMS needs is not “generalists” but “specialists.” Korea’s problem is that it has made everyone a “generalist,” in the name of job rotation and in order not to give too much power to one person. It is necessary to raise awareness that international exchange and performing arts must be different.


Yumi Hwangbo_Chief Editor, weekly@KAMS/theApro

Yumi Hwangbo_Chief Editor, weekly@KAMS/theApro

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