Chiaki Soma: eager to improve dialogue between art and society

6 August 2015

One of the mentors joining the Atelier for Young Festival Managers for the first time and who will be sharing her experience with the 36 selected festival managers during the week in Gwangju is Chiaki Soma, Art Producer, Representative Director Arts Commons Tokyo, and former Artistic Director Tokyo Festival.

Chiaki Soma graduated with a B.A. from Waseda University, Tokyo, after which she completed a master degree in DESS (Cultural Development and Project Direction) at Lumiere Lyon II University, France.

Between 2002 and 2008 she worked at Tokyo International Arts Festival as international programme director and produced many international co-productions and projects. Between 2006 and 2010, she established and directed Steep Slope Studio, a performing arts platform in Yokohama, and produced many site-specific projects in the city.

She was the first Program Director of Festival/Tokyo Japan’s leading performing arts festival. She introduced new developments in world theatre to Japanese and Asian audiences between 2008 and 2013 and produced highly site-specific works and outdoor projects throughout Tokyo. She also established the F/T Emerging Artists Program, including the F/T Award, to encourage and stimulate the younger generation of talent in Asia. After the 3.11 disaster in Tohoku, she commissioned many new works and special programs responding to the post-Fukushima situation.

Chiaki was involved in Japanese Cultural Policy as a member of the Cultural Policies Committee at the Council for Cultural Affairs from 2012 until 2015. In 2012 she created the dialogue-based residency programme R:ead (Residence East Asia Dialogue) that works to build platforms across Asia for better communication through the arts and criticism. This programme was held in Tokyo in 2012 and in 2013, and co-realised and hosted by Asian partners in Taiwan in 2014 and in Korea in 2015.

In 2014 she established NPO Arts Commons Tokyo, an independent platform and network for Asian art professionals which aim is to renew the relation between arts and society today. She is currently producing many projects, such as Michinoku Art Pilgrims Camps for young artists and curators in North-East Region of Japan, and Scene/Asia, a platform of critique and dialogue for contemporary Asian arts.

Chiaki Soma is a jury member in several residency prorgammes such as Tokyo Wonder Site and Kinosaki International Art Center as well as for the Fukutake Foundation Inujima Performing Arts Program and the Taishin Art Award. She is a board member of several organisations: NPO Art Platform, NPO Arts Network Japan and NPO ON-PAM: Open Network for Performing Arts Managers.

Renowned mentors from all over the world will guide the participants throughout the seven days of the Atelier GWANGJU 2015 under the coordination of Hugo De Greef (Atelier Coordinator, former EFA Secretary General, Director European Capital of Culture Bruges 2002, Co-Founder Kaaitheater Brussels - Belgium): Robyn Archer (Artistic Director The Light in Winter in Melbourne, Deputy Chair Australia Council for the Arts, Strategic Advisor Gold Coast Arts and Culture in Queensland, Member European House for Culture - Australia), Chiaki Soma (Art Producer, Representative Director Arts Commons Tokyo, former Artistic Director Tokyo Festival - Japan), Nele Hertling (former Vice President Academy of Arts Berlin; Member Strategy Group “A Soul for Europe”, former Director Hebbel-Theatre – Germany), Marie-Hélène Falcon (former Director TransAmériques Festival Montreal – Canada), SeongHee Kim (Artistic Director Asian Arts Theater - South Korea), and Monique Veaute (President Fondazione Romaeuropa - Arte e Cultura - Italy).

More information about the Atelier GWANGJU 2015 can be found on the Atelier website.