COVID-19 has had an unprecedented, devestating impact on the entertainment and arts sectors, with many smaller concert venues, live houses, theaters and more struggling to survive in a post-COVID world. Many haven’t seen audiences return to normal since lockdown and likely won’t anytime soon, which is why there have been a number of projects working to save these venues from extinction. Meanwhile, Japanese government support hasn’t been enough to make up for lost revenue. With many struggling, the offer of grants for these venues that provide a clear path to securing and growing revenue going forwards should be seen as a positive.
For these grants, the Visual Industry Promotion Organization (VIPO) in association with the Agency for Cultural Affairs under the ‘Project for Strengthening the Earning Power for Culture and the Arts’, is calling for proposals from effected companies in order to be eligible for grants under this scheme. Domestic companies in the fields of culture and the arts such as traditional Japanese arts, cinema and media are invited to submit proposals of how the grants would help them to secure and strengthen their financial situation and ability to secure and grow their earnings potentials in the future. With a successful application, businesses would be eligible for a grant of up to 100% of the eligible expenses needed to action these plans, up to 20 million yen.
Such funding could prove to be an invaluable lifeline for many of the live houses, cultural venues and businesses impacted by COVID-19, but the hope is also to use the situation to shift the industry into a more accommodating direction. Funding will be given to businesses that seek to fund their recovery efforts through efforts to expand the target audience and customer base. For example, plans to grow the target audience and appreciation of traditional Japanese cultural arts so that more people would visit in the future is noted as a condition of the grant when it comes to funding projects related to the traditional Japanese arts. Projects related to the distribution of events in co-operation with live houses and mini theaters is a noted priority for projects related to music, film and the media as well.
Nevertheless, this is a promising step that could help businesses struggling to get by as their revenue is hit hard by the impacts of COVID-19, while also potentially heralding a shift in the Japanese entertainment landscape.