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Tokyo's Many Ballet TroupesHow to rank them? And what of the 'battling producers'?


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#16 Naoko S

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 03:41 PM

What a fascinating, thought-provoking discussion! (Thanks also from me Natalia for having started the thread, and naomikage and ruteyo for the insight!)

Being away from home for a long while and losing touch with Japanese ballet scene, I myself couldn't give any material, 'insider's views' ..... but thought perhaps I could contribute a bit too, sharing some objective info. - hard facts dept.

I understand from naomikage and ruteyo that there are no state subsidies for ballet. Is this true for other arts? Are symphony orchestras subsidised? Are Japanese classical arts subsidised or is everything private?


Ah no, not everything is private - far from it! In fact, New National Ballet Theatre (NNBT) for instance is one of high-profile government-subsidised institutions. But precisely how much is being spent on them from Japanese taxpayers' money, I had no idea, so have done a quick research - here follows what I've discovered:

* NNBT, alongside 6 other performing arts institutions carrying 'national' status, is run by Japan Arts Council, and grant come through its sub-org. Japan Arts Fund. (Approx. 83% of Japan Arts Fund's capital came from the government; the rest from Corporate/Private donors) The seven national institutions are:

- National Theatre (for traditional Japanese performing arts: Kabuki, Bunraku, Buyo, Hougaku - traditional Japanese music, etc)

- National Engei Hall (for traditional Japanese spoken entertainment: Rakugo, Koudan, Rokyoku)

- National Noh Theatre (for Noh and Kyogen)

- National Bunraku Theatre (for Bunraku - puppet theatre)

- National Theatre Okinawa (for traditional 'Ryukyu' dance/music)

- New National Theatre Tokyo (for 'modern/contemporary' performing arts: Opera, ballet, modern dance, drama/play)

- Traditional Performing Arts Information Centre

* According to the disclosure report, the subsidy for the above 7 national institutions totalled JPY11.6bn (equivalent to approx. US$112mn) in FY2006 (Apr06/Mar07). New National Theatre, the home to NNTB, had the biggest shares - JPY5.1bn (approx. US$49mn). This accounted for 60% of their total revenue for the period, JPY8.4bn (approx. US$81mn).

* Japan Arts Fund also provides grant to medium/small scale performing arts organisations/groups, as well as more general cultural activities. In FY2007 JPY2bn (approx. US$20mn) was granted to 911 applicants located across the country. Beneficiaries included numerous ballet/dance/opera companies/groups, orchestras, drama/play groups, film creators, traditional performing arts groups, museums, preservers of cultural heritage - the list goes on and on! (I have a feeling that on top of this there should be other sources of subsidies as well, from local governments, private cultural foundations, etc.)

Going back to New National Theatre.... the government subsidy of US$49mn - is this good enough or not? Surely not a small number, but again I had no clue so took rough measures and compared it with that of Covent Garden's (now my 'home' theatre). This has led me to a revelatory (or rather shocking) discovery...

The state subsidy given to NNT, US$49mn, is roughly the same level ROH currently receives from Arts Council England!

According to what the national daily The Independent reported in December 2007, ROH gets c.GBP25.5m (approx. US$51m) from Arts Council, and that makes up c.30% of their total revenue. A further 40% comes from Box Office, and c.15% each from fundraising and commercial activities. (That brings annual revenue of ROH to c. US$169m)

Why the surprise? I certainly don't want to step in the danger zone being too simplistic to compare the two very different institutions, however, the contrast between London and Tokyo is a bit too stark. One very obvious difference is its scale; compared to Covent Garden, Japan's NNT is seemingly a lot smaller operation. They do not have their own orchestra, nor Music Director. Their ballet troupe, excluding ones on 'registered-base' contract, consist of just under 60 dancers. Then the biggest difference, the number of performances at the two theatres. In Tokyo it looks like the main auditorium at the theatre remains dormant most of the time, as there are about (or less than) 1/3 of the performances that takes place at ROH. (During 2006/2007 Season the number of performances given at NNT were: Ballet - 7 works/36 performances; Opera - 10 works 46 performances).

All along, I thought it's lack of public money that caused the small-scale operation at NNT, but the state subsidy given to them doesn't particularly look 'disrespectful' level. (The findings leave me much to ponder....)

#17 Lynette H

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 06:02 AM

What a fascinating, thought-provoking discussion! (Thanks also from me Natalia for having started the thread, and naomikage and ruteyo for the insight!)



The state subsidy given to NNT, US$49mn, is roughly the same level ROH currently receives from Arts Council England!

According to what the national daily The Independent reported in December 2007, ROH gets c.GBP25.5m (approx. US$51m) from Arts Council, and that makes up c.30% of their total revenue. A further 40% comes from Box Office, and c.15% each from fundraising and commercial activities. (That brings annual revenue of ROH to c. US$169m)

Why the surprise? I certainly don't want to step in the danger zone being too simplistic to compare the two very different institutions, however, the contrast between London and Tokyo is a bit too stark. One very obvious difference is its scale; compared to Covent Garden, Japan's NNT is seemingly a lot smaller operation. They do not have their own orchestra, nor Music Director. Their ballet troupe, excluding ones on 'registered-base' contract, consist of just under 60 dancers. Then the biggest difference, the number of performances at the two theatres. In Tokyo it looks like the main auditorium at the theatre remains dormant most of the time, as there are about (or less than) 1/3 of the performances that takes place at ROH. (During 2006/2007 Season the number of performances given at NNT were: Ballet - 7 works/36 performances; Opera - 10 works 46 performances).

All along, I thought it's lack of public money that caused the small-scale operation at NNT, but the state subsidy given to them doesn't particularly look 'disrespectful' level. (The findings leave me much to ponder....)


Remember that as regards the ROH's funding, that is the total budget for both opera and ballet. Many of us would like to know how it is split between the two. But it covers the Royal Opera, the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and the Royal Ballet.

#18 naomikage

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 08:16 AM

The state subsidy given to NNT, US$49mn, is roughly the same level ROH currently receives from Arts Council England!

All along, I thought it's lack of public money that caused the small-scale operation at NNT, but the state subsidy given to them doesn't particularly look 'disrespectful' level. (The findings leave me much to ponder....)


This information by Naoko S was very interesting..I did not resarch enough for those facts. And if you take a look at the website you can see there is quite a few corporate sponsors. It lacks the weathly patrons that spend a huge amount of funds to private, self funded companies like ABT, but it is a national institute and there was not so much culture in Japan of funding to art so much, especially wealthy individuals don' t do such.

Anther problem is the hostility from other ballet institutions such as NBS. One reason for this is that the Opera House capacity of NNB is small, only 1,814 seats is very small. NNT's Opera and Ballet performances sells very well. and popular opera productions such as Lady of the Camelias and Carmen, Aida sells out on the day the box office opens. And the same thing happens with Ballet performances with Svetlana Zakharova. But the capacity of the hall is small means less profit. Many different organaizations such as NBS would like to use this Hall because is is the only hall in Tokyo designed for opera but because of the capacity and the expensive fee to borrow it no one will lend the opera house for an foreign opera house tour, it is impossible to make profits. So the Opera House remains empty for many days.

The impresario Mr Sasaki from NBS keeps criticizing NNTB in the NBS newsletter because of the fact that the Opera house was made too small, which was a result of ignoring Mr.Sasaki's opinion to the new national opera house. Also another thing criticised is that too many NNTB dancers are from Asami Maki Ballet and Tachibana Ballet School. This is a very difficult issue, and many young dancers have joined NNTB in those 10 years have no connections to Asami Maki Ballet, so situations have changed, although there were two Asami Maki Ballet dancers who are not members of NNTB joined the Washington performance because of lack of male dancers due to injury.

#19 Mike Gunther

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 12:04 PM

NNTB will have a event to report the Washington tour to Japanese fans in March.


Naomikage, is it possible for someone to post a report of this event? It would be interesting to see how NNTB perceives the reception they got in DC. In my opinion the tour was a big artistic success, and I personally hope they come back real soon!

#20 Naoko S

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 03:37 PM

Remember that as regards the ROH's funding, that is the total budget for both opera and ballet. Many of us would like to know how it is split between the two. But it covers the Royal Opera, the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and the Royal Ballet.


Yes, that's what I meant - the TOTAL subsidy for both theatres, ROH and NNT. (I didn't compare oranges to apples...)

However there's one thing I should have mentioned on a special (or rather peculiar) arrangement at NNT. There, opera and ballet have to share the pie with one more contender, 'play/drama' section (although it appears they almost always use medium/small theatres within the complex). Ah well perhaps I've taken it wrong for so long; NTT may not be seen as a 'lyric theatre', in strict sense...

This information by Naoko S was very interesting..I did not resarch enough for those facts. And if you take a look at the website you can see there is quite a few corporate sponsors. It lacks the weathly patrons that spend a huge amount of funds to private, self funded companies like ABT, but it is a national institute and there was not so much culture in Japan of funding to art so much, especially wealthy individuals don' t do such.

Anther problem is the hostility from other ballet institutions such as NBS. One reason for this is that the Opera House capacity of NNB is small, only 1,814 seats is very small. NNT's Opera and Ballet performances sells very well. and popular opera productions such as Lady of the Camelias and Carmen, Aida sells out on the day the box office opens. And the same thing happens with Ballet performances with Svetlana Zakharova. But the capacity of the hall is small means less profit. Many different organaizations such as NBS would like to use this Hall because is is the only hall in Tokyo designed for opera but because of the capacity and the expensive fee to borrow it no one will lend the opera house for an foreign opera house tour, it is impossible to make profits. So the Opera House remains empty for many days.


naomikage, I agree with your views that in Japan arts in general don't attract public money. But about the lack of support from wealthy individuals - if there's less financial support from rich people, compared to for instance U.S., isn't it partly because Japan is not a country of 'super rich', in the first place? (How many Japanese individuals have made it to Forbes's Rich List? Given the country's size of economy there's so few billionaires there... in modern-day Japan it's corporations that tend to have the accumulation of wealth...)

Your point on the capacity of NNT's 'Opera Theatre' was interesting....I'm a complete novice on administrative side of performing arts, but....

Perhaps it may be too small to make a profit for visiting foreign opera companies, but what about NTT's giving their own performances? Do they lose out if throw more shows? (That they put on only 46 performances for opera and 36 performances for ballet in a season looks so wrong - overwhelmingly underused infrastructure! And I'm thinking of renowned lyric theatres with even smaller capacities, for instance, Brussel's La Monnaie...)

I just had a look at NNT's website to find out the rental rate for Opera Theatre, but couldn't locate any info. Then a further digging led me to the page where they announced that currently Opera Theatre is not rentable due (mainly) to their own use ('for putting on NNT's performances, etc'). This is bizarre, as there seems to be no one who'll occupy the theatre during NNT's off-months: July, August & September. It's simply incredible if this heavily subsidised theatre (the main one) stands empty for the entire three months....

#21 naomikage

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 08:44 AM

NNTB will have a event to report the Washington tour to Japanese fans in March.


Naomikage, is it possible for someone to post a report of this event? It would be interesting to see how NNTB perceives the reception they got in DC. In my opinion the tour was a big artistic success, and I personally hope they come back real soon!


Mike, I am not sure I can attend that meeting yet but some friends of mine who went to Washington to see NNTB will attend that and I can collect reports from them. They were very happy that the Washington audience seemed to like the performance.

Hiromi Terashima and her twin sister Mayumi has a website and alithough it is all in Japanese you can see wonderful pictures of the backstage of their tour.

http://www.t-twins.net/tour/index.html

#22 Mike Gunther

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 10:23 AM

Hiromi Terashima and her twin sister Mayumi has a website and alithough it is all in Japanese you can see wonderful pictures of the backstage of their tour.

http://www.t-twins.net/tour/index.html


Arigato! Great snapshots. :)


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