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The Day Everybody Can Enjoy: “Culture Day”

After beginning school, autumn comes around, unnoticed. Also, October, which is designated as the month of culture by the Korea government, is already around us. As the weather has been cooler, it is good to do outside activities. Before the next year comes, making memories by enjoying various cultural activities will enhance the Kingos’ time at university. The Sungkyun Times (SKT) will now introduce the national culture promoting enterprise, “Culture Day”.

What Is Culture Day

Culture Day in Brief

Culture Day is a day with various cultural bene­ts that can be celebrated on the last Wednesday of every month. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) has implemented the Culture Day policy since January 2014 to promote people’s participation in cultural activities in their lives. On this day, cultural institutes which engage in the Culture Day provide a discount or free entrance benefits. For example, CGV and other major movie theaters provide movie tickets for 5,000 won from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the day. Also, some of the culture providers lengthen their operation times to promote workers’ participation. In 2015, the initial period of the Culture Day, according to the MCST, more than half of Korean citizens did not know about this policy. It is because there was not a legal basis, so that local governments had difficulties in supporting the special day. Due to the continuous efforts of the government, including the revised Fundamental Act on Culture in 2016, according to an MCST report, more than half of the people surveyed knew about the policy last year. Since entry barriers to culture were lowered because of Culture Day by the government, cultural spending also increased. According to Shinhan Card, in the following year of the enforcement of the Culture Day, the number of card usages rose around 13% in cultural areas, on Culture Day especially, and the amount of money also increased by about 11%.

Problems of Culture Day

Troubles of Opening Hours and Event Duration

Every last Wednesday of the month is designated as Culture Day due to contemporary living patterns. It is because Wednesday is the day when people’s tiredness normally reaches a maximum level during the seven-day cycle. According to a survey by the MCST in 2016, however, diffi­culties of making time on a weekday was the ­reason for Culture Day absence. It means operating the special day on a Wednesday is an encumbrance. The MCST is perceiving this problem, so they set up the measure of extending the day, to include every last week of the month since 2017. Therefore, on the Culture Day official site, event duration is written as the last week of every month. There are, however, only a few events held in the week. It is because the risk of the increasing burden on event providers occurs when extending event days. A large musical agency participating in the Culture Day said there is no governmental aid, but they participated in it to give back to society. That is, most of culture providers should bear the risk that resulted from participating in the event.

Unequal Distribution of Quality Culture Contents

In September, according to the Culture Day official site, 2,898 culture institutes participated in the event, but half of them were in the capital area. About a half of each of the 17 provinces and municipalities had less than a hundred participating culture institutes. According to an MCST report in 2018, the Culture Day was held under the regional population ratio in a balanced way. The problem is that quality culture contents are centralized around the metropolitan area. In Seoul, setting aside large exhibitions at Seoul Arts Center (SAC), around 60 performances were held on the Culture Day in September. In Daejeon, however, no one participated in the events at the Daejeon Arts Center. Furthermore, the library in Daejeon took 40% of the participating institutes. The programs in libraries are, however, only “double borrowing day” and “showing movies.” That is, there is a lack of “quality” cultural contents in Daejeon compared to Seoul. Conditions might be different in each region, but area outside of the metropolitan areas cannot experience quality culture contents. The purpose of the policy is to make people enjoy high-quality culture in their lives. The reality, however, has a gap with a purpose now.

The Way of Improving the Culture Day

Expansion of the Opening Hours and Event Duration Based on Voluntary Condition

Expanding the opening hours and the days will result in more people enjoying the various culture. These ways have already been conducted as a nighttime operation and expanding event duration to the week for each. In fact, however, they are not implemented well. If culture providers expand opening hours, they will have more burden, such as increasing their staff. To soothe this problem, enforcing culture volunteer work may be a way of reducing the work burden of culture providers. Furthermore, culture consumers should participate in cultural activities more to minimize the risk of culture providers. Won Jong-won, a professor of the Film and Theater department at Soonchunhyang (SCH) Media Labs in SCH University, criticized that the current policy is like a campaign, and the government should foster the environment where people can spontaneously enjoy the culture. To facilitate people-oriented willing conditions, deduction from culture and arts spending may be the measure.

Increasing Culture Contents’ Qualities Spontaneously by Citizens

Culture groups made up from citizens in autonomous conditions can be the solution to centralizing quality culture contents. They have the potential to make plenty of culture contents. For instance, La Fête de La Musique, which translates to “music festival” in French is similar to Culture Day because they were both started by the government. La Fête de La Musique is loved by all French citizens as cultural societies and many artists participate in the event spontaneously. It is important that the artists of this event are not only professionals but also ordinary citizens. Various and new musical attempts resulted from this unique trait have made the level of French music much better. Spontaneity becomes the momentum for quality culture contents. Culture groups can make quality contents through spontaneous culture expansion and reproduction, and distribute them to all regions. Culture groups can solve the problem of unequal distribution by reacting to the public’s cultural needs. The government, this time, would be the indirect supporter, giving subsidies or offering the workforce.

The Culture Day has been implemented to bring more people together to enjoy high-quality cultural lives, and it brings plenty of bene­ts to people. Some people, however, are still having dif­culties enjoying culture because of some ongoing problems. The SKT hopes these problems are mended, so that all citizens can enjoy their cultural living.

신주영  poowooho3@g.skku.edu

<저작권자 © THE SUNGKYUN TIMES, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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