The Korea Herald


‘It is all about money after all’

Seoul Arts Center’s new head Yoo In-taek pledges to raise state subsidy for the arts complex

By Im Eun-byel

Published : April 30, 2019 - 15:46

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Seoul Arts Center’s new President Yoo In-taek, appointed to the position in March, believes improving the arts complex‘s financial situation to be a priority.

The center in southern Seoul is a venue for various art performances. Opened in 1988 in time for the Seoul Olympics, it has functioned as a focal point of diverse art activities.

“The current financial structure must be revamped,” said Yoo, 64, at a press conference in Seoul on Tuesday, pointing to the importance of financial resources in sharing culture with the people. “It is all about money after all. But then, that is what I am the most confident about.” 

Yoo In-taek, head of the Seoul Arts Center, speaks during a press conference Tuesday. (Yonhap) Yoo In-taek, head of the Seoul Arts Center, speaks during a press conference Tuesday. (Yonhap)

Yoo is a major figure in the local arts scene, where he was a stage actor in the 1980s. He later produced films and worked as a fund manager for film productions. He worked in the musical scene as well. Until recently, he was the head of Dongyang Arts Center, a venue in northern Seoul’s theater district.

“Some have been asking, ‘Is Seoul Arts Center a real estate agency?’ and I have started to think that the criticism is somewhat right,” Yoo said, referring to how the center rents out its venues to generate income.

Yoo vowed to raise the state subsidy to 50 percent of its budget within his three-year term.

According to data provided by Yoo, the state subsidy of 1.19 billion won accounted for 26.9 percent of Seoul Arts Center’s 4.4 billion won ($3.9 million) budget for 2018.

For fellow cultural institution the Sejong Center, the Seoul Metropolitan Government subsidy accounted for 58.1 percent of its budget last year. Other major opera venues in Paris and Sydney cover about 50 percent of their yearly budgets with state subsidies, the data showed.

By increasing state subsidy, the center can stage works of a wide spectrum, regardless of their profitability. 

Apart from state subsidy, Yoo also stressed the importance of raising funds from individuals, mentioning crowd-funding and donations.

“The opera house and the concert hall should stage opera, ballet or classical performances every day throughout the year. But the reality is different,” he said. “In the case of opera, the opera house rents its stage out for months, because opera and ballet are not profitable shows.”

Yoo, however, failed to explain exactly how he would attract financial resources. He said he knows a lot of people who may want to support art performances, but did not specify further.

Yoo added he would make his acquaintances sign up for paid memberships with the goal of signing up more than 100,000 paying members for the center by 2022.

By Im Eun-byel (