Welcome, Korean Artists

For a number of years, Korean artists in the UK have gathered together more or less formally in an Association to speak for their collective needs and promote their collective talents. They have, for example, lobbied over the years for the establishment of the Korean Cultural Centre. The most recent event to have showcased some of their members was the Chuseok event at Asia House in 2006.

Partly to ensure a co-ordinated local artistic input into the 2008 Dano festival in Trafalgar Square, towards the end of last year there was a consensus that the Association needed to be reinvigorated. Earlier this month, the Korean Artists Association UK was relaunched with a new charter, new leadership and an expanded (and growing) membership.

The association represents UK-based Korean artists in the widest sense of that term. Attendees at the inaugural meeting (in the very fine setting of the recently opened Han Restaurant, 1 New Malden High Street) included a classical music conductor (a protégé of Sir Colin Davis, no less), a dance therapist, contemporary and traditional Korean dancers and choreographers, a production assistant, a kayageum player, arts / theatre administrators, an academic, and last but not least an artist in the narrower sense of the word, in the person of the Association’s new Chairman, Francesca Cho.

The Charter of the organisation is as follows:

Objectives

The objectives of this organisation are:

  1. To promote cultural exchanges between the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom
  2. To foster friendship among Korean artists working in the U.K.
  3. To contribute to the cultural improvement of Korean society in the U.K.

Membership

The members of this Association shall be

  1. Korean artists who have been resident in the U.K. for more than one year.
  2. Korean students aged over 18 who are currently studying ‘Art’ in the U.K.
  3. British or European artists who are associated with Korean art and culture.

Administration

This Association shall be financed by membership fees, donations and sponsorship.

Activities

All members of the Association shall:

  1. Foster friendship between members and protect their interests and rights.
  2. Promote Korean art and culture in U.K. society.
  3. Strengthen the knowledge of the arts of Koreans living in the U.K.
  4. Actively participate in all art activities.

Those who read my monthly events listing for March will have seen the first fruits of the organisation’s relaunch: more organised publicity about upcoming events.

It is purely coincidental that the Association has come back to life at the same time that the Cultural Centre has found a permanent establishment in Central London. But the coincidence represents an opportunity for both organisations. For the Cultural Centre the Association represents a ready-made source of local expertise and talent to advise on and provide ‘content’ for exhibitions and performances. For the Association, the new venue represents a potential new outlet to showcase their talents.

No doubt the Director of the Cultural Centre has a hotline from Seoul which is constantly ringing with requests from artists, promoters, civil servants and other well-positioned sponsors wanting to bring various talents for display at the Central London space. Many (indeed, it is to be hoped, all) of these will add to the exciting dialogue of cultural interchange which the Cultural Centre promises. It is to be hoped, however, that the Cultural Centre will reserve some time and space for those who are living and breathing that cultural dialogue on a daily basis: namely, Korean artists in the UK who are exploring that inter-cultural exchange as part of their own professional work, here and now.

I have in the past observed, both privately and to a lesser extent on this site, how Koreans in London seem unable to work together, creating diplomatic incidents out of what should be triumphant collaborations. Those who know me offline will know that I have been very restrained in what I have chosen to write in public. At this point therefore I shall restrict myself to saying that I hope that the two organisations, both of which are at the start of what I hope will be a long and fruitful existence, will do more than simply co-exist but will contribute positively to each other’s success. Welcome to the KAA and the KCC both.

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