News Performing Arts

Japanese corporations to show ASEAN businesses that it’s absolutely okay to spend on art

EARLIER this month, creative industry facilitators My Performing Arts Agency (MyPAA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Japan’s Kigyo Mecenat Kyogikai (KMK).

You can read about the entire thing in our coverage, but in summary, MyPAA struck a deal with a Japanese association which serves corporate sponsors, whereby both sides pledged to look into the corporate sector to ease development for the arts.

What we didn’t tell you then was that in Japan, corporate sponsors actually give as much as the goverment, so you have mecenat funding equivalent to the national budget for the arts.

architecture-681x1024This leads us to a very special event happening at Le Meridien, Kuala Lumpur on 24 August 2016.

Announced last week, upcoming arts conference Research and Conference in Facilitating Corporate Mecenat Activities and Establishing a Network in ASEAN Countries (RCFCMAENAC) hopes to spark some flame for the arts in the corporate sector.

Put together by KMK, the special program has been in development since 2015 and is set to preempt this year’s installation of regional arts conference Borak Arts Series.

“The Japanese don’t feel the need to justify why they put money into the arts,” noted MyPAA Director Izan Satrina. “Funding the arts is a necessity for them; it’s a way of life.”

What makes the entire thing even more special is that under the mecenat system, corporations work as a team. Through KMK for example, corporate sponsors collectively plan their contributions into something much more potent, often patching up where the government fails to provide for the arts.

The way of the mécénat is to organise as a corporate network, so it’s a lot more that just a bunch of corporations writing cheques for art. They’re attempting what I will describe as “joined-up philanthropy” by coordinating their activities through the KMK and meeting annually to share and workshop ideas. The KMK can then work with local government agencies and arts groups to coordinate projects.

— Jason Potts, The Conversation

This is a far cry from the local scene, where every ringgit of expenditure must satisfy metrics such as the ROI, which does not take into account the positive, intrinsic value of art to society. As such, RCFCMAENAC hopes to gather private and public stakeholders interested in supporting the cultural economy for a round of presentations, discussions, round table sessions and performances.


Curated for corporations, cultural practitioners, NGOs, government agencies, intermediaries, funders, policymakers and other relevant industry participants, the conference aims to promote corporate philanthropy and mecenat activities in Malaysia.

“Having discovered KMK in 2014, we proceeded to start a funders round table. We met with corporate funders twice a year and noticed they’re a bit like artists — they tend to do things in isolation,” continued Izan. “This will be an opportunity for corporate funders to gather, embrace and advocate more investment in the arts.”

The conference is also set to pit together representatives from big Japanese corporations and their ASEAN branches; here’s to hoping that their philanthropic spirit rubs off on their Southeast Asian counterparts.

“One of the things we need to do is expose our people to the philosophies and systems of others,” stated Izan at one point. “ASEAN and Japanese corporate funders think very differently, so we look forward to having both sides come together to learn from one another.”

Cosmetic brand Shiseido for instance will present a session titled “Between Art, Culture and Corporate Management”, represented by Yukihiro Saito, General Manager of the company’s Corporate Cultural Department.


The brand has been supportive of the arts, to the extent of owning the Shiseido Art Museum which publicly displays its phenomenal collection artwork.

Other confirmed speakers at the conference include President of KMK, Motoki Ozaki, as well as International Arts Director of Benesse Art Site Naoshima, Akiko Miki.

Admission to Research and Conference in Facilitating Corporate Mecenat Activities and Establishing a Network in ASEAN Countries will be available soon on My Performing Arts Agency. Obtain early bird tickets for RM100 before 31 July 2016 and contact the team via Facebook for more details in the meantime. Featured image is of the Teshima Art Museum, designed by Ryue Nishizawa. Post images (in order of appearance) depict Chichu Art Museum, designed by Tadao Ando, followed by James Turrell‘s Open Field, and the Shiseido Art Museum.

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