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Seoul foundation aims for city never short of culture, art

By Park Ga-young

Published : March 15, 2024 - 16:59

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Attendees celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture on Friday at Nodeul Island in Yongsan-gu, Seoul. (SFAC) Attendees celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture on Friday at Nodeul Island in Yongsan-gu, Seoul. (SFAC)

Celebrating 20 years, the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture, a key organization under the Seoul city government responsible for carrying out its cultural policies, on Friday unveiled a new vision, “A City for Artistic Souls, Seoul.”

With the vision, the foundation said it is expanding programs so that the capital city is never short of cultural and artistic activities in all four seasons.

To achieve this goal, the foundation said Seoul will be armed with global cultural content, a sustainable ecosystem for artists with diverse support and boundless expansion for Seoul residents’ daily lives.

Starting from this year, Nodeul Island, an entertainment spot with a concert hall, bookstore, lounge, restaurants and more in the middle of the Han River, will be operated under the management of SFAC, which vows to turn the space into an artistic island full of culture that appeals to Koreans and foreign travelers alike.

Starting with an opening concert on April 20, the island will host various events, including a circus festival, ballet, opera concerts and a K-pop special week. A series of indie music performances is to take place once every three months at the island.

"I wanted to be remembered as a culture mayor. At the heart of this vision lies Nodeul Island," Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon said in a ceremony that took place at Live House on Nodeul Island, also known as Nodeulseom, on Friday.

The ceremony was also attended by the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Yu In-chon, who was the inaugural CEO of the foundation in 2004.

"The foundation started in difficult circumstances when we first started with our employees and brainstormed in a small house, saying that we would create cultural policies for the city of Seoul," Yu said. "With the support of the Seoul city government, the foundation has grown almost tenfold over the past 20 years."

Government officials including Culture Minister Yu In-chon (fourth from left) and Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon (third from left) join Park Sang-won (fifth from left), chairman of the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture, and its CEO Lee Chang-ki (second from left) to celebrate the 20th anniversary of SFAC on Friday at Nodeul Island in Yongsan-gu, Seoul. (Park Ga-young/The Korea Herald) Government officials including Culture Minister Yu In-chon (fourth from left) and Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon (third from left) join Park Sang-won (fifth from left), chairman of the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture, and its CEO Lee Chang-ki (second from left) to celebrate the 20th anniversary of SFAC on Friday at Nodeul Island in Yongsan-gu, Seoul. (Park Ga-young/The Korea Herald)

Founded in 2004, the organization began with about 50 employees and a budget of 14.6 billion won (about $12.7 million at the time). Now it has grown into an organization of 300 employees and operates with 157.8 billion won in budget.

The SFAC said it has supported almost 20,000 artists, while some 27 million people have participated in its festivals and events.

SFAC will expand Art Festival Seoul by combining nine festivals, including a circus festival in May, a street art festival in September and a convergence art festival in November.

The Quad, a public black box theater operated by SFAC at Daehangno, will feature experimental productions in various fields throughout the year via Quad Choice, Quad Production, Quad Summer Festa and Quad Classics.

In addition to Nodeul Island and the Quad, the foundation will offer various opportunities for people to encounter cultural activities easily with its signature Seoul Stage and Piano Seoul programs. Seoul Stage presents concerts around Seoul every month, while Piano Seoul places pianos in six locations for anyone to enjoy.