NAGOYA–Outrage over an exhibit at the Aichi Triennale 2019 art festival has prompted the city government not to include funding for the next one in 2022 in its initial fiscal 2020 budget, according to sources.
The city has included expenses to prepare for the international art festival, which has been held every three years since 2010 in Aichi Prefecture, in its annual fiscal budget.
Mayor Takashi Kawamura cited the controversy over the “After ‘Freedom of Expression?’ ” exhibit at the 2019 festival, which opened on Aug. 1 and ran through Oct. 14 after a temporary suspension, as to why the city won’t include the contribution in its budget for fiscal 2020, which starts in April.
In the 2019 festival, Kawamura strongly protested the contents, which included a sculpture symbolizing “comfort women,” who were forced to provide sex to Japanese troops before and during World War II, and a video showing portraits of Emperor Hirohito (1901-1989), posthumously known as Emperor Showa, and others being burned.
The mayor also opposed the reopening of the “After ‘Freedom of Expression?’ ” exhibit after it was shut down just three days after opening due to hundreds of phone calls of protests and even threats of violence.
Kawamura told The Asahi Shimbun, “We can’t (include the contribution in the budget) under these circumstances.”
He cited the possibility that part of the contents of the exhibit were intentionally not disclosed to the city in advance and the decision by Aichi Governor Hideaki Omura, the chairman of the organizing committee, to reopen the exhibit without holding a committee meeting.
The festival is hosted by an organizing committee that includes the prefecture, the city and other organizations. A city official said both governments have included their contributions to the committee in their respective budgets every year since fiscal 2010 after holding meetings.
Over the past three years from fiscal 2017, the prefecture and the city have borne the costs at a ratio of 3:1. The city spent 215 million yen ($1.98 million) on the expenses.
Kawamura has said the city will decide its future course of action on the festival by taking into account the discussion of the city’s reviewing committee.
However, “We’ll respect (the result of the discussion by the reviewing committee), but we need to follow the schedule of the budget,” said Kawamura. “So, we had no choice but to make a certain decision before (the committee reaches its conclusion).”
The city still hasn’t paid about 34 million yen out of 170 million in its contribution to the 2019 festival. The reviewing committee is discussing whether to pay the contribution as well, but Kawamura expressed a strong reluctance to do so.
At the end of last year, he said he will make decision on the matter, regardless of the conclusion the reviewing committee reaches.