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Performing arts group opens door to foreign artists

Korean performing arts organization KoPAS is seeking greater integration with the expat art community here.

“I think building a network between Korean and foreign artists and allowing for cultural exchange are urgently needed to develop not only the expat art scene but to develop Korean culture in a broader sense,” said Casey Ahn, who deals with international affairs for Korea Performance Art Spirit. 
Al Paldrok (right) performs with Nomgrata at a rooftop performance in Hongdae. (KoPAS)
Al Paldrok (right) performs with Nomgrata at a rooftop performance in Hongdae. (KoPAS)

Although the non-profit organization has reached out in the past to expats, most recently supporting the Psnaps Snaps art party last month, they feel there is still a big divide.

Ahn believes this may be because of the separation of expats from the Korean community in general.

“In my opinion, arts are always a reflection of everyday life,” she said, adding that “because the foreign community is apart from the Korean community it’s hard to find a path to reach the expat arts community for Koreans.”

KoPAS has been focusing on Hongdae, Seoul’s arty student area, to enhance collaboration. With input from their expat artist pool, they held a forum in December to discuss foreigners’ views on the culture of the area.

Although foreigners expressed a strong enthusiasm to get more involved with the Korean art scene, said Casey, they found it very difficult to join in and present their art to Korean audiences.

“After the forum, KoPAS came to realize the importance of building a community network with expats to provide them with a better working environment, which can enrich the Korean art scene,” she added.

To kick-start developments, KoPAS has set up a party, where expat and Korean artists can meet and build networks.

Coming up soon also is the annual Korean Experimental Art Festival ― the biggest experimental and performing arts festival in the country, funded by the government ― from July 23-30 in Hongdae. In its 10th year, the festival has so far invited more than 300 foreign artists from 30 countries to perform.

In addition, Ahn encourages all artists to visit the KoPAS offices to show their portfolios. “The KoPAS door is always open,” she said, explaining that once they have an understanding of an artist’s work, they can refer them to events that suit them.

“As long-term goals, KoPAS aims to broaden opportunities and venues for expat and Korean artists to work together, demolish the cultural barriers and create the real meaning of multidisciplinary arts content and programs born in Korea,” she added.

For information in English on KoPAS visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kopas00 or their Twitter feed at @KEAF2011.

By Hannah Stuart-Leach  (hannahsl@heraldcorp.com)
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