Art in the Periphery

At the 2020 Critical Tourism Studies - Asia Pacific conference hosted by Wakayama University last month, Art Island Center directors Meng Qu and Andrew McCormick assembled a three-part panel entitled “Art in the Periphery: Successes and Challenges of Art and Cultural Tourism-Based Revitalization Initiatives in Rural Communities.” Panelists from universities and institutions across Japan as well as the United States, Sweden, Denmark, and Hong Kong reached across geographies and disciplines to present a range of nuanced cases of art and tourism in rural places, especially islands.

Art in the Periphery: Successes and Challenges of Art and Cultural Tourism-Based Revitalization Initiatives in Rural Communities
February 18, 2020
Organized by
Meng Qu / PhD Candidate, Hiroshima University / Research Director, Art Island Center
A. D. McCormick / Research Scholar, Hiroshima University / Director, Art Island Center

In the face of shrinkage, aging, and marginalization, “peripheral” communities around the world face threats ranging from loss of services and cultural assets to outright extinction. This three-part panel critically examines a range of tourism-related interventions and initiatives in rural regions in Asia and Europe that employ socially engaged art, art/cultural festivals, arts investment, and creative placemaking activities to affect revitalization, boost tourism, and strengthen social bonds. Panelists weigh the demonstrated positive effects and potential of these initiatives against issues including gentrification, cultural conflicts, power disparities, uneven benefits, and unequal access.

Part I: Social Art and Placemaking
Discussant: Soléne Prince / Linnaeus University, Sweden

Gunhild Borggreen / University of Copenhagen, Denmark
“Returning the Gaze: Art Projects as Reflections of Intrusion”

Nancy (Yao) Ji / Keio University, Japan
“The evolving role of architecture in Japan’s post-growth revitalization”

Almira Astudillo Gilles / Field Museum, Chicago, USA
“Art for our sake: Cultural identity at the BenCab Museum”

Part II: Art Festivals and Revitalization
Discussant: Carolin Funck / Hiroshima University, Japan

Misuzu Toba / Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan
“The Impact of ‘Traditional’ Events on Tradition and Communities in Japan”

Eimi Tagore-Erwin / New York University, USA
“Large-Scale Art Festivals in Japan: Fueling Revitalization and Tourism”

Simon Tu / The Chinese University of Hong Kong
“Volunteering in Art Festivals of Rural Japan: An Anthropological Perspective”

Meng Qu / Hiroshima University, Japan; Art Island Center
“What is ‘Revitalization’? Differing Interpretations by Island Festival Stakeholders”

Part III: Art Islands and Creative Landscapes
Discussant: Susanne Klien / Hokkaido University, Japan

Soléne Prince / Linnaeus University, Sweden
“Artist Networks on a Small Island: Creativity and Networking on Bornholm, Denmark”

Simona Zollet, Meng Qu / Hiroshima University, Japan
“Lifestyle migrants for the Revitalization of Marginal Island Communities in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan”

A. D. McCormick / Hiroshima University, Japan; Art Island Center
“Finding a ‘Creative Class’ on Japan’s Art Island”

Yachen He / Hiroshima University, Japan
“Art Tourism and Shifting Cultural Landscapes in a Small Japanese Island Community”

Here are a few photos from the day. Thank you to our all amazing panelists and discussants!

Gunhild Borggreen presenting

Simon Tu presenting

Meng Qu presenting

Discussant Carolin Funck providing feedback on the second panel

Soléne Prince presenting

Simona Zollet presenting

Yachen He presenting

Discussant Susanne Klien offering remarks on the third panel, and thoughts for future research