Art enhances perspective,
Creativity increases potential.
To live a rich life and build a great city,
These two concepts cannot be forgotten.
In the 20 years since the end of the Bubble Era and the slowdown of the Japanese economy, many cities and people have struggled with a great many problems without clear solutions. After the Second World War, Japanese society focused single-mindedly on economic prosperity and efficiency. Material prosperity became the goal of the nation as mass production and mass consumption became the reality. Japan made a miraculous recovery and grew into a great economic power. It is said, though, that in the midst of this period of rapid growth and change that many things were left behind and forgotten. One could say that the "Great Disposal" that aided this country's economic development has been both greatly helpful and greatly harmful. Could it be that Japanese aesthetic consciousness, love of art, sense of the importance of caring for natural and man-made things, and identity have been corrupted by common material prosperity and the false idea that all Japanese are middle class, and forgotten and abandoned by the wayside?
The mission of this festival was created with these fears in mind, and has continued as such to this very day. The meaning of the Daidogei World Cup is about far more than a simple, temporary gathering of people.
We give energy to the people. We bring life to the city. This is our vision.
Daidogei World Cup Executive Committee
The Daidogei World Cup began in 1992 to stimulate understanding of art, local citizen identity, and the local economy.
Why was the Daidogei World Cup started, and what will it become? The first World Cup, held in 1992, was conceived under slogan, "A Town for People to Gather," and the desire to be more than a city that people just passed through. At the same time, a centennial fund for art and cultural development was established and an event promotion office, the first of its kind in Japan, was set up in the municipal government.
At the same time, our group was examining what direction our city development would take in the 21st century. We realized two things: the city is a stage, and when it is filled with cultural energy, both the place and the people change in magnificent ways. Under this idea, the Shizuoka Outdoor Culture Festival was put on experimentally to unleash upon the town various forms of artistic impression such as theater, live music, and contemporary dance. What Shizuoka needed was not more brand-new buildings, but more art that the people could feel and experience. That was the message we presented. The actions of the local government and the desires of the citizenry overlapped with felicitous timing and resulted in a wonderful collaboration. We found a way to make this more than a brief and transitory event, and instead create something that would energize Shizuoka for a long time to come.
Through the economic effect of gathering people from within and without the prefecture, the primary involvement of local volunteer staff from the planning stages through the execution of the festival, and greater appreciation of art by bringing top level domestic and international art to the people, we have been able to achieve our three main purposes.
The Daidogei World Cup is proud to have 700 volunteers.
One of the major distinguishing characteristics of the Daidogei World Cup is its independent operating system. It is not run by the municipal government of Shizuoka, but by the Daidogei World Cup Executive Committee. From planning to execution, all aspects of the festival operation (other than things requiring specialist knowledge and qualifications) are carried out by volunteers. Every year approximately 700 registered volunteer staff of all ages and occupations get involved, and throughout the year more than 120 people are part of the executive committee, all of them volunteers, including the producers and chief director. And it is not a top-down organization; opinions and ideas from the front lines are freely accepted, leading to the implementation of the Daidogei College, red clown nose sales, formation of the Angel Wings cleanup team, universal access strategies, creation of a premium stage, and more. In addition, we have received attention from across the country for our excellent collaboration and cooperation with City Hall.
87 performance groups and World Cup, Japan Cup, On, and Off Categories
This four-performance category system is unlike any other performing art festival.
This festival has become the top-rated performance festival in Asia because of the quality of its performers, the large number of participants and the variety of genres, especially with the establishment of the Competition Category. It is also why Shizuoka's World Cup event has transformed from an event unknown outside Japan to one that draws first class talent from around the world. Our festival is now famous among the well-known performing art events overseas, before the spread of the Internet it was very difficult attracting talent from abroad.
In the World Cup Category, 13-15 individual and group performers vie for the World Cup. These few performers are selected in a process that begins a year earlier, as members of the committee travel to other parts of Japan and even other countries to find a chosen few, selected from over 200 candidates. The final 13-15 are brought to Shizuoka, and their expenses paid, by the executive committee. The winner of the championship receives 2 million yen, the silver medalist 500,000 yen, and the bronze medalist 300,000 yen.
The On Category is divided into two parts: "Category 1" and "Category 2: Walking Acts," and every year roughly 45 groups and individuals perform. Competition to be part of this category is fierce, with the number of applicants being more than double the number of places. Performers not residing in this country must pay their own way as far as Japan, receiving only train fare to Shizuoka, but even so, the number of foreign hopefuls increases every year, yet another indicator of how the importance of our festival has risen. Also, this year the Japan Cup Category has been revived. Twelve Japanese groups or individuals selected by video judging from the On Category will compete on the first day of Daidogei. The winner of this category will then go on to compete in the World Cup Category.
The Off Category was set up to incubate new talent, an early stepping stone of sorts, but even so performers clamor to join, with 70 individuals and groups competing for only 30 spots. Participants selected for this category receive the money to travel from Tokyo to Shizuoka, but beyond that they must earn from spectators using their own skills.
Theater and spectacle planning are on the rise.
This will be our fourth year the Shizuoka City Cultural Promotion Foundation has hosted the Daidogei in Theater: Autumn Comedy, with performers whose unique talents resulted in rapidly increasing popularity. Every year the Executive Committee experiments with new activities and events, but on anniversary years we bring contemporary circus entertainment and other especially spectacular events.
35 Performance Locales.
Participants in the Daidogei World Cup perform in over 35 locations in Shizuoka's shopping districts and Sumpu Park. Every year the performance areas grow larger, but with improved movement between venues. The Premium Stage (admission applicable) in Sumpu Park is equipped with chairs and bleachers so that small children and the elderly can relax and enjoy some amazing performances.
Economic benefits of over 2 billion yen! The World Cup is growing into a center piece for city promotions.
During the four days of the festival, 1.5 million people pour over two billion yen into the local economy. Visitors drawn to Shizuoka for the first time by the Daidogei World Cup are impressed by our city and find themselves coming back again at other times, indirectly creating further economic effects. This event has become one of the foundation stones of Shizuoka's reputation.
Previously unenthusiastic citizens are getting into the swing of things.
Performing artists from abroad always positively comment on the energy and excitement of the audiences, and on the beauty and hospitality of Shizuoka. Our 700-plus volunteer staff gives their all for the festival, and as the World Cup continues over the years, more and more local residents have become prouder of the city and the event it hosts.
Appreciation for art is growing.
Over the 20-year history of the Daidogei World Cup, appreciation for and understanding of art has grown as the people get a more personal connection to what they see. We want people to have contact with art from their childhoods, and that dream is gradually becoming a reality among the people of Shizuoka. Those with exposure to art from a young age have different sensitivities and sensibilities from those who do not. And the artists themselves have noticed a difference, commenting, "Shizuoka audiences are scary; they really have an eye for quality. It used to be that they were satisfied with a 75% performance, but now if we don't give 120%, they won't be happy." Others say that they try new acts here, and if they are successful, they can use those acts anywhere in Japan. Audiences enjoy the spectacle, but they have developed a sharp eye. These people have spurred on greater interest in the performing arts beyond the Daidogei World Cup, as they are drawn to a wide variety of shows, dances, and musical performances.
Many local residents are moving from observation to expression.
The Daidogei College began in 1993 and is so popular it has trouble find spots for all those who wish to join. Currently there are over 350 citizen clowns who have shed the famous Shizuoka reserve and polished their skills to entertain and delight Daidogei audiences. In just a few short years, they have widened the scope of their activities, not only being greeters during the Daidogei festival, but also expanding their efforts in other ways: attending workshops in other prefectures, performing on street corners, setting up NPOs, holding workshops of their own, or even visiting hospitals and disaster areas. Their year-round efforts are gradually turning Shizuoka into a famed center for performing arts, and recently, have even formed a citizens' contemporary dance team, a rarity in Japan. Performing arts truly have their roots in ordinary people.
We envision a city of artistic and cultural creativity, a city that the whole world wants to see.
What is our ultimate goal? It is not about increasing the number of visitors. Through the Daidogei World Cup in Shizuoka, we want people to experience the wonder that is art, to know how important it is to civilization, to find and bring out the creativity that lies within themselves, and to use that creativity to enhance the city in which we live. We want our city to be a place where people, whenever they come and wherever they come from, can experience many kinds of art and feel peace and joy while they are here. Because of this festival, many of those who have experienced it have begun to express art in their own way, creating new events and becoming involved in other festivals. The Daidogei World Cup is a young festival, only 20 years old this year. If we and the people of Shizuoka refuse to rest on our laurels and continue to take on new challenges with a clear vision and purpose, without fear of change, then someday Shizuoka will truly be a city of art, culture and creativity.
You will leave with a smile on your face and joy in your heart.
Through the planning and execution of the Daidogei World Cup in Shizuoka, we seek to build an international city where visitors and residents, young and old, men and women alike experience a richness of art, culture and creativity.
Our mission is to stimulate understanding of art, local citizen identity, and the local economy, and through this performing art festival, seek solutions social problems related to the environment, disaster preparedness, universal access, community involvement, and more.
To us, the Daidogei festival is not meant to be a goal, but a catalyst. Through the continuation and evolution of the World Cup, the people develop greater cultural aesthetics, creativity, and desire to be involved in improving Shizuoka. As these movements begin, we believe that Shizuoka can be a city of art, of culture, and of creativity that we can all be proud of. As culture and art events are held throughout the year, we hope that we can provide visitors a richness of hospitality and energy that they will never forget. That is the Shizuoka we want to build; that is the goal we wish to achieve.