` Covid-19 and the Artists' Union: Is this a turning point in Japan?

Covid-19 and the Artists' Union: Is this a turning point in Japan?

The impact of the pandemic has been truly pervasive, shaking every section of society and all aspects of our personal lives. As offices and religious spaces closed their doors, so too did galleries, theatres, and music venues, which are only recently starting to reopen. Given the economic downturn, budgets for cultural institutions and artists’ commissions are in serious peril. Museum staff and lecturers in the arts are being laid off, and exhibitions and residencies have been postponed – the forecast hardships are rapidly becoming real.

In the UK, government funds were made available in the form of loans and stimulus packages for artists, arts organisations, and other professionals such as conservators and technicians, though there has been criticism that the financial aid was not provided early enough to prevent irreparable damage. In response, the Artists’ Union England has started a petition for the government to provide crucial help, and has also made small grants available to artists to keep them afloat. In Japan, on the other hand, artists have had very little in the way of an emergency relief response from the government. This has highlighted the need to establish a union in Japan to campaign for more help for artists during these challenging times.

The panellists in this talk will discuss the current status of Artists’ Associations and Artists’ Unions in the UK and progress towards forming a similar organisation in Japan.

Date: Tuesday 22 September 2020

UK Time: 12:00pm-1:00pm (GMT+1)
Japan Time: 8:00pm-9:00pm (GMT+9)


About the contributors

Julie Lomax, is CEO of a-n The Artists Information Company. Julie Lomax joined a-n The Artists Information Company as CEO in 2018 after working as Director of Development at Liverpool Biennial. She was previously Director of Visual Arts for the Australia Council for the Arts, responsible for visual arts policy and investment. She worked at Arts Council England as Director of Visual Arts for London, responsible for over £40m investment in the arts in London. Julie Lomax is Chair of The Showroom, London and Executive Committee member of the Association of Women in the Arts and regularly lectures at Sotheby’s Institute. She originally trained as an artist, graduating from Chelsea School of Art with a degree in Fine Art. www.a-n.co.uk

Yoi Kawakubo is a Spanish-born Japanese artist based in London and Tokyo. He turned to artistic practice after receiving a degree in applied neuroscience and subsequently working as a financial trader for several years. He creates photographs, moving image and sound installations, often based on historical research and personal history, all intertwined with economic, social and philosophical reflections. He is currently engaged in an artist-led movement to set up a network in Japan that could act as a trade union, government pressure group and knowledge sharing platform for art workers. His recent notable exhibitions include The Yokohama Triennale 2020 (Yokohama, Japan), Roppongi Crossing (Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2019), 21st DOMANI: The Art of Tomorrow (The National Art Center, Tokyo, 2019), Linguamania (The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 2017), The Vision of Contemporary Art 2015 (The Ueno Royal Museum of Art, Tokyo, 2015). He was a Fellow of the Overseas Study Programme for Artists, Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan in 2017 and the recipient of the POLA Art Foundation award for overseas research in 2016.

Keiko Koshihara Following more than 10 years of curatorial work and developing UK-Japan connections in the art world, Keiko Koshihara set up consulting and communications agency Schema. In cognitive psychology terminology, a ‘schema’ assists in planning the structure of ideas and provides a system for organising new thoughts. At a time when arts professionals increasingly need to be more independent, Schema helps artists, critics, curators, and organisations represent and communicate their work. (Schema https://www.schema-research.com)



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