Tokyo Artpoint Project is Arts Council Tokyo’s wide-ranging program of
art projects organized with Tokyo Metropolitan Government as well as nonprofits and
other partners. Through what we call “art points,” Tokyo Artpoint Project finds new ways
of looking at the issues that the city faces, uncovers until-now unseen problems, and
creates fresh approaches to these challenges.
Since launching in 2009, Tokyo Artpoint Project has worked with 56
organizations and carried out 45 projects in the city to date (April 2022).
What’s an art point?
By “art point,” we mean a hub, a community, or a place where people come
together and do creative things.
An art point aims to utilize the unique nature of art to challenge norms,
uncover issues, and form connections across fields, and to sustainably facilitate art
projects that encourage community engagement.
Tokyo Artpoint Project undertakes a wide range of mid- and long-term
operational and community support to foster art points in the city sustainably.
Why art projects?
In Japan in the 1990s, new forms of contemporary art activities began to emerge that centered on collaboration and social engagement. These activities, which generate novel artistic and social contexts by seeding new contact points and connections outside of preexisting ones, are described as art projects. Often closely related to a specific location and community, art projects are led not only by artists, but frequently involve collaboration with a various people and stakeholders, including local governments, universities, corporations, and groups from the civil society.
Through art projects that encourage participation and interaction with other people, Tokyo Artpoint Project seeks to bring invisible problems and mindsets out into the open, and to conceive approaches that can work toward resolutions.
In our rapidly changing world, to build a society in which people play a flexible and central role in culture and arts.
To foster people who can think and harness their artistic and cultural powers in response to society. To provide mid- and long-term support in growing those activities sustainably.
WHAT WE DO
Supporting Art Projects
Providing a platform for nonprofits and other partners to organize their art
projects on an equal footing with Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Arts Council
Assigning a specialist team (program officers) on a per-project basis. Following
projects right the way through to completion.
In addition to covering direct operational costs for partners over the course of
a project (typically three to five years), Tokyo Artpoint Project supports
baseline administrative costs including personnel remuneration that is usually
not covered by subsidies and grants.
Supporting Organizations in the Long Term
Looking ahead to the period after a project finishes, Tokyo Artpoint Project
offers training in management approaches as well as shares information,
know-how, and networks to shape sustainable operational infrastructures.
Cultivating future art project leaders and organizers.
Building a network through exchange and study groups with our partners.
Sharing Project Values
In addition to quantifiable data, Tokyo Artpoint Project emphasizes qualitative
data and the development of people and organizers over the course of a project.
We work with experts to find value in each project in a wide range of ways.
Tokyo Artpoint Project organizes lectures in response to a project’s challenges
and needs, and fosters opportunities for project teams to learn the skills they
require. By producing documentation and records of art projects, and then making
these available online, we work to build an infrastructure that can nurture
future art project leaders.
Our Past Record
Since launching in 2009, Tokyo Artpoint Project has worked with 56
organizations and carried out 45 projects to date (April 2022).
Tokyo Artpoint Project is Arts Council Tokyo’s wide-ranging program
of art projects organized with Tokyo Metropolitan Government as well as nonprofits
and other partners. Forming a link between Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the
partners with whom we initiate projects, we engage with the aims and challenges of
Tokyo’s cultural policies, and explore new directions for art projects. Tokyo
Artpoint Project also works with specialists and experts to review partner
organizations and assess projects.
Partner Review and Selection Committee
Oshita Yoshiyuki (2015–): PhD; Professor, Faculty of Economics, Doshisha University
Koyamada Toru (2015–): Artist; Professor, at Kyoto City University of Arts
Nishimura Yoshiaki (2015–): Planning Director; Representative Director, Living World
Ogiwara Yasuko (2015–): Director, Sumida River Sumi-Yume Art Project
Takehisa Yuu (2015–): Artistic Director, Contemporary Art Center, Art Tower Mito
External Review Committee
Serizawa Takashi (2011–): Executive Director, P3 art and environment
Tokyo Artpoint Project has published over 270 reports. A selection
are available in English online as PDFs.
Here, we introduce several partners with whom we have organized projects.
We asked them to share their honest impressions about Tokyo Artpoint Project and their
experience of organizing the project together.
Partnership period: 2009–2020
The art project TERATOTERA was held in the area of Suginami, a part
of Tokyo popular with young people and where many musicians and artists live and
work. Along with organizing an exhibition in the city about social conditions like
the invisible divisions and concepts of the public, it contributed to training and
developing human resources by working with a team of volunteers. The key people
behind TERATOTERA have since formed a new organization called Teraccollective to
continue the work of the project.
Artists, who usually present their work in spaces like galleries and
museums that are, in a sense, protected, here developed experimental forms of
expression in the unpredictable space that is in and around the city: those
literally extraordinary discoveries and growth felt, not only for the artists but
also for us organizers, immeasurable. Tokyo Artpoint Project set up such a place for
experimental artistic practices in public spaces. Evaluating the social values and
significance obtained there is perhaps something that will happen over time in the
future, but what I can say for sure is that the experiences gained at that
experimental place were of immense value for the artists involved and us, and
continue to influence our activities.
Ogawa Nozomu (Director, Art Center Ongoing)
Partnership period: 2010–2014
In Yanaka, an area in Tokyo’s Taito ward with a distinct cultural
character and where vestiges of the old Shitamachi part of Edo (Tokyo) remain
visible even today, Yanaka-no-Okatte held the Guru Guru Ya→Mi→ project with the aim
of building a base for different kinds of people to come together daily and create
culture together. Launched originally in 2009 by Tokyo University of the Arts,
members of the project then formed Yanaka-no-Okatte as a standalone legal body and
evolved the project further, producing many more programs involving residents,
students, and others from across generations and with different nationalities,
customs, and values. Yanaka-no-Okatte continues to build on this experience and
expand its activities, including developing play-centered learning programs for
children and working to increase accessibility for cultural programs.
We were able to accomplish dynamic activities through the project we
co-organized, achieving many connections with locals, artists, and supporters. Those
connections and the experiences we gained through the project form the basis for our
current activities. Having a partner able to accompany our experimental endeavors
and attempts to build up a foundation for our activities was very reassuring for us
as an organization that does art projects. I hope that Tokyo Artpoint Project
evolves further as an opportunity for various organizations’ efforts and endeavors
in the future, and that a rich array of cultural activities continue to emerge in
Watanabe Rieko (Director, Yanaka-no-Okatte)
Partnership period: 2014–2021
In the Senju area of Adachi ward, Tokyo, which flourished as a post
town in the Edo period and where traces of that old culture remain even in the
highly developed city of today, OTOMACHI PROJECT co-organized Art Access Adachi:
Downtown Senju – Connecting through Sound Art with the aim of creating new bonds
through art in contemporary society, where such interpersonal connections have
diminished. In partnership with Tokyo University of the Arts, which has a campus in
Senju, Art Access Adachi encompassed a range of programs involving artists and
residents, and a cultural salon inside an old Japanese house, in this way building
various links with the community. OTOMACHI PROJECT continues to develop its
cooperative relationship with Tokyo University of the Arts and Adachi ward, and
organize many kinds of activities.
The project we organized with Tokyo Artpoint Project fostered our
management skills. Not only for basic administrative know-how like writing up a
proposal or accounting documents, and setting up meetings, they also advised us
appropriately in a wide range of ways, including about engaging in dialogue with
artists and residents, and publicity, and our organizational abilities greatly
improved over the course of our partnership. This is due to the co-organizer system
by which a program officer closely accompanies the project. The improvements to our
administrative know-how enabled us to gain more social credibility and led to recent
selections for more grants. I hope that Tokyo Artpoint Project continues to support
small organizations like ours that are engaged in meaningful activities.
Yoshida Takeshi (Director, Art Access Adachi: Downtown Senju – Connecting
through Sound Art)
Tokyo Council for the Arts established. Deliberations begin over
Olympic cultural programming.
Tokyo Culture Creation Project established as part of Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture.
Within Tokyo Culture Creation Project, Tokyo Artpoint Project launches as a further development of the proposed “Thousand Knots” cultural policy for Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
Tokyo Art Research Lab (TARL) launches as a research program for art project practitioners.
Art Support Tohoku-Tokyo (ASTT) launches to support Great East Japan Earthquake reconstruction efforts through Tokyo Artpoint Project’s approaches.
Tokyo Culture Creation Project merges with Arts Council Tokyo to form a single initiative for creating and disseminating arts and culture.
Open call for new partners.
Publishes a report, “Future Culture: Discussion in a Ten-Year Period—Tokyo Artpoint Project 2009–2018,” summarizing its decade of activities.
Launches Jimu-Gym, a study group about administration and networking project for partner organizations.
Theme-based open call for new partners.
Q. What is the Tokyo Artpoint Project team like? How big is the team?
Tokyo Artpoint Project has a director and seven program officers. The
program officers are arts management specialists who form a bridge
between Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s policies and the partner
organizations who plan and run the projects. Program officers are
usually assigned in pairs to a partner organization, and each program
officer works with two or three partner organizations throughout the
Q. What is your annual funding budget? How many partners do you work with per year? And what level of funding can a partner organization receive?
The overall budget changes on a yearly basis depending on the amount of
funding available from the Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and
Culture and external grants. In fiscal 2021, the budget was ¥108
million, of which ¥94 million was allocated to funding projects.
Around nine or ten art projects are co-organized yearly. The funding for
each is decided in discussion with partners in regard to the aims,
features, and level of the project. Many projects begin with a budget of
¥5 million, which can increase to over ¥10 million through subsequently
obtaining external funding or additional funding from us in accordance
with the reach and aims of the project.
Subsidy for cultural projects in Japan is available almost entirely as
grants for production costs, and very little support is offered for
operating and administrative costs, including personnel. In order to
facilitate sustainable activities, Tokyo Artpoint Project enables
partner organizations to allocate one-third or half the overall project
funding for labor costs.
Q. How do you assess the projects?
Tokyo Artpoint Project appoints a partner review and selection committee
comprising outside specialists and experts, who meet twice a year to
make assessments. They assess projects based on a range of perspectives,
including project aims and planning, project effectiveness, potential
for future development, and compatibility with Tokyo Metropolitan
Government’s cultural policies. The same committee also selects new
partner organizations based on applicants’ suitability with the set
themes as well as the originality, level of planning, and scalability of
the proposed project.
Moreover, Tokyo Artpoint Project has an external review committee that is
well versed in art projects. The committee provides a comprehensive,
overall assessment of Tokyo Artpoint Project at the end of the fiscal
Q. Among the projects you have organized with your partners, what kind of organizations have particularly grown and developed?
Q. Is the scope or content of projects undertaken by project partners limited because they are publicly funded?
Different roles are fulfilled by different sides when organizing the
projects. The design of the project is undertaken by the partner
organization. Tokyo Artpoint Project’s role is to offer specialist
perspectives and coordinate with Tokyo Metropolitan Government to
realize the project. During this process, we check that project partners
are complying with certain rules over how funding is spent, such as not
using the budget to pay for food and drink, but we don’t censor or
attempt to control the nature of the project.
Q. What does it mean to hold art projects in Tokyo?
With its highly fluid population, Tokyo is a city where building and
maintaining a sense of community and kinship can be difficult. Tokyo
faces various issues, not least loneliness, discrimination, intolerance,
and disparity, but especially in the central parts of the city, where
community ties are weaker, these tend to be reduced to problems for
individuals to deal with, rather than society as a whole. They
frequently remain hidden and ways to resolve these issues are harder to
detect. By organizing site-specific art projects in the city on a
sustained basis, Tokyo Artpoint Project hopes to build visible
relationships and places of belonging, which will lead to new places for
citizens to take on active roles. Through art projects, we uncover
problems that had become difficult to see or were hidden until now, and
create ways to approach these issues.
Q. Are the art projects that you co-organize different from socially engaged art in Europe and the United States?
They are similar in terms of being closely connected to contemporary
society and related to the social contexts of a particular place and
point in time. However, socially engaged art often features political
messages and explicitly critical perspectives. The art projects that we
co-organize approach issues that individuals face and search for
expected challenges and new ways of dealing with them, and emphasize
cooperative activities within the sphere of everyday life in
collaboration with artists and non-artists alike. We aim to empower our
project partners to make that possible, and to connect those projects to
improving our lives in society today.
Project Coordination Division, Project Department
Arts Council Tokyo
Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture