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2014年1月13日 (月)

国立文化施設 質の高い企画をもっと見たい

The Yomiuri Shimbun January 12, 2014
State-run museums should redouble efforts to improve exhibition quality
国立文化施設 質の高い企画をもっと見たい(1月12日付・読売社説)

Viewing master paintings and other cultural properties at museums and other places displaying fine art refreshes our hearts and minds.

As the new year starts, Tokyo National Museum is holding a special exhibition of such masterpieces as an Edo period folding screen designated as a national treasure.

Kyushu National Museum in Fukuoka Prefecture, which has been open since the first of the year, was reportedly thronged with people having just paid their first visit of the year to nearby Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine.

We hope such facilities will continue to exercise their creative ingenuity in planning and managing a variety of events that will provide people with memorable experiences.

State-run cultural establishments have been earnestly working to attract larger numbers of visitors mainly in response to the launching in 2001 of the system of independent administrative institutions (IAIs), sometimes referred to in English as “incorporated administrative agencies.” Because of the adoption of the new system, the responsibility of managing the establishments was shifted from the central government to respective IAIs.

Up until the end of fiscal 2006, if the Finance Ministry recognized an IAI as having operated profitably due to its own managerial efforts, the IAI was allowed to spend its profits at its discretion to expand operations. This was thought to have greatly enhanced the willingness of the managers of the establishments to exert further efforts to draw spectators.

Three culture-related IAIs—the National Museum of Art, the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage and the Japan Art Council, all under the jurisdiction of the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry’s Cultural Affairs Agency—were provided with operating subsidies from the government, so that museums, art museums and theaters under the IAIs’ umbrellas would tackle newsworthy programs in collaboration with newspapers and other organizations.

Since fiscal 2007 on, however, the Finance Ministry has prohibited the three IAIs from spending at their own discretion even if they have operated profitably, making it obligatory for them to put any profits into the national coffers.

Expand discretion of IAIs

Although the ministry took the measure because of the stringent conditions of government finances, there can be no denying that the step put the brakes on highly proactive projects of the culture-related establishments.

Furthermore, when the Democratic Party of Japan was in power, the government decided to “abolish in principle” IAIs, and the Cabinet decided to integrate the three IAIs into a single entity.

Government policies toward state-owned cultural establishments, however, have been changing significantly recently.

As part of the changes, the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided toward the end of last year to ensure the three culture-related IAIs continue to operate as before.

The current government basic stand of “implementing measures to abolish and integrate IAIs if and when doing so is considered truly useful in order to strengthen related policy enforcement functions, instead of making organizational changes solely to reduce their numbers” stands to reason.

In addition, the government, paying scrupulous attention to characteristics peculiar to the great variety of IAIs, has incorporated into its basic policy a plan to further encourage IAIs to expand the sphere of management of their activities at their own initiative. This is expected to expand the room for IAIs to use their profits at their own discretion.

One of the roles of the National Museum of Art, which is in charge of managing five state-owned art museums, is to help people nurture and enrich their cultural sensibility. The National Institutes for Cultural Heritage, which is tasked with running state-owned museums, must carry out the mission of preserving cultural properties to hand them down to posterity. The Japan Arts Council is charged with managing such facilities relating to Japan’s performing arts as the National Theater and National Noh Theater both in Tokyo.

Expectations will certainly surge for the three IAIs more strongly than ever to effectively execute their operations to promote the nation’s traditional culture by giving full play to their respective individuality.

Given the three are public establishments, they are urged to pursue not only the goal of attracting more visitors but also the task of upgrading the quality of their exhibitions and public performances.

They also should work out projects for using part of their profits for such things as building up their capabilities to conduct research and studies as well as collect cultural properties for preservation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 12, 2014)
(2014年1月12日01時15分  読売新聞)


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