The Art delivery project
1. Jinju and culture
Sitting on an area of 712.9 Km2 with a population of 360,000, Jinju has a mixture of urban and rural features with 14 and 16 districts located in urban and rural areas, respectively. A city that boasts a history of 1,300 years, Jinju is a hub of culture and education with five universities and a student population of more than 100,000.
Jinju has a range of cultural facilities such as the Jinju National Museum, Gyeongnam Culture and Art Center, Rhee Seung Ja Jinju Art Museum, and Jinju Traditional Art Center, most of which are located in urban districts. The city is also a birthplace of folk-art performances such as Jinju Geommu (Sword Dance of Jinju), Jinju Ogwangdae (Mask Dance of Jinju), and Jinju/Samcheonpo Nongak (Farmers’ Performance of Jinju and Samcheonpo). In addition, a number of traditional crafts are still practiced in the city.
Jinju is undergoing industrialization with the head office of the Korea Land and Housing Corporation moving to a newly built innovation zone in the city and a national aerospace industrial complex poised to lead the city’s economic development. The city is striving to maintain its identity as a city of historical and cultural value.
In 2016, the City government adopted a new cultural policy based on the recognition of culture as one of the four pillars for a sustainable development. It also determined to resolve three main issues: a) old districts were being hollowed out after the innovation zone was built; b) there was a gap in the enjoyment of cultural benefits between the city’s urban and rural districts; c) there was an emotional divide between those living in old districts and newly moved residents in the innovation zone.
As a way of addressing the second out of the three issues, the Committee adopted the Art Delivery Project. Moreover, recognized for these efforts to preserve cultural heritage and pass it on to future generations, Jinju was designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art in 2019.
The Art Delivery Project is designed to help maintain Jinju's identity as a city of history and culture, narrowing the gap in the enjoyment of culture between urban and rural areas and enhancing the cultural rights of the underprivileged.
2. Project goals and implementation
2.1. Main goal and specific objectives
The Art Delivery Project was implemented under an agreement with UCLG as part of a pilot city program entitled “Culture in Sustainable Cities: Learning with Culture 21 Actions.” The Project is intended to enhance the cultural rights of citizens.
It involves having local artists and performers form a performance troupe, visit culturally underserved districts in the outskirts of the city and facilities for the underprivileged, and implement cultural programs such as traditional art performances in order to help reduce the gap in the enjoyment of cultural benefits between urban and rural areas and to engage the underprivileged in cultural activities.
2.2. Project development
From 2019 to 2022, a total of six Art Delivery Project events have taken place.
The Project is fully funded by the City government. In the context of the COVID pandemic, it offered an opportunity to enjoy culture and art directly at a time it was difficult to engage in in-person activities, and has shown that culture can serve as a care program to foster emotional stability and healing for participants.
The 1st Art Delivery Project event, “A Happy Namchon Village”, provided the living in an institution for the severely disabled with an opportunity to enjoy cultural performances of Russia, Uzbekistan, and Turkey, which were part of the Jinju World Folk Arts Biennale 2019. “Sanjo Concert 1 and 2” offered culturally underserved rural residents an opportunity to enjoy traditional Korean music performances, and Korean lied and opera aria performances. “Fun Time with Noljay: A Traditional Korean Music Performance with Commentary” allowed disabled people to experience bullfighting, nongak (farmers’ performance), and traditional Korean folk songs. “Marriage of Tradition with Modernity” offered OSTs from modern movies and dramas to rural residents, and “The Day Folk and Jazz” allowed rural residents to enjoy folk songs with a touch of traditional Korean music, jazz performances, dances, and rock band performances.
3.1. Direct impacts
The Art Delivery Project has demonstrated that culture is one of the four pillars for cities to achieve sustainable development. The project has allowed the civil servants and foundation members who have been involved in the implementation of the project to realize how important it is to enhance the cultural rights of citizens and engage them in cultural life in order to ensure sustainable development of cities.
Events are primarly intended to enhance the cultural rights of culturally underserved people in the outskirts of Jinju and reduce the gap in the enjoyment of culture between urban and rural districts.
Two self-assessments of cultural policies based on Culture 21 Actions and conducted as part of the Jinju Pilot City program evidenced improvement in the area of cultural rights, having the Art Delivery Project contributed to this increase.
The self-assessments also showed significant improvement in the area of culture and education, and for the area of culture, equality, and social integration.
3.3. Key factors
The Art Delivery Project began in 2019 but COVID-19 hit the country in 2020. Despite this challenge, the City government invited some 50 people to each event while maintaining a stringent quarantine control. The project could be used as a tool to help citizens to overcome the pandemic.
The Art Delivery Project started as part of the Jinju World Folk Arts Biennale 2019, which was held as a program designed to help make Jinju a UNESCO Creative City. However, Jinju’s UNESCO Creative City initiative was transferred by the City government to the Jinju Culture and Tourism Foundation, which was launched in September 2021. For this year’s events, all locations and performers will have to be selected through a public competition. Thus, we will be able to determine if the Art Delivery Project can achieve the desired results this year only when we reach the end of the year.
4. Further information
Jinju was a candidate for the fifth “UCLG – Mexico City – Culture 21” International Award (February – June 2022). The jury for the award drew up its final report in September 2022, and requested that the Committee on Culture promote this project as one of the good practices to be implemented through Agenda 21 for culture.
This article was written by Byung Hoon Jeong, Focal point of UCLG Culture Committee Pilot City Jinju, and University Professor; Jinju, Gyeongsangnam-do, Republic of Korea.
Contact: bhjeong55 (a) gmail.com