Agnès Sarale, Hironori Yagi, Menelaos Gkartzios, Keishi Ogawa


Organizing rural art festivals is considered an effective intervention in support of rural revitalization in the face of aging and population decline in Japan. Several studies have identified the impacts of art festivals on economic and social rural development internationally. Little research, however, has focused on the management process of such festivals. The objective of this paper is to identify and examine the management processes crucial to an arts festival’s success, especially in terms of preparation, organization and community outreach. We focus on the first edition of the Oku-Noto Triennale, which took place in Suzu City, a remote coastal area of rural Japan in 2017. The Triennale was held from September 3, 2017 to October 22, 2017 with 39 groups of artists. Data for this study was primarily obtained through qualitative interviews with Suzu’s City Office, the coordinator of theArt Front Gallery, a Tokyo-based art gallery, and community members involved in the festival. Our case study revealed thatseveral factors were found to be crucial to the festival’s success. The organizing team’s flexibility, for example, assigning additional municipalities’ employees to site operations, was pivotal. Experienced actors, such as outside professionals and residents with prior experience organizing previous projects, who could address and overcome the difficulties they faced during the preparation, also deserve mention. The festival also succeeded due to the involvement of residents. In total, 1,176 people were involved as registered supporters, and 434 residents were involved as local volunteers during the festival (counted in working-days). The organizing team worked hard to convey the underlying concept of the art festival to the local residents. By organizing the festival, the residents met and formed bonds with new people and also strengthened their ties with one another.


Rural Development; Art Festival; Community Revitalization; Local Involvement

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