Korea launches first ‘Masterplan for supporting cultural and arts activities of artists with disabilities’
Date Sep 21, 2022
□ [Enhanced creative-field work supports] The ministry will expand art competition projects & grants for art creation, secure barrier-free spaces for artwork (a universal stage), offer assistance during the entire lifecycle of artistic activity (entry to arts market, etc.)
□ [Broader supports promoting independence] The ministry will pursue job creation initiatives in municipal government and public institutions, and will facilitate start-ups and employment for artists with disabilities in the private sector.
□ [Strengthened policy base] The ministry will enhance arts education for people with disabilities, developing a body of professionals skilled in training, planning, production/creation and distribution.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (Minister PARK Bo Gyoon, MCST) announced details of its ‘The 1st masterplan for supporting cultural and arts activities of artists with disabilities (2022-2026)’ on September 8 (Thur). This is the first such undertaking by the government of the Republic of Korea. The official initiative is based on Article 6 of the Act on the Support for Cultural and Artistic Activities of Artists with Disabilities. It outlines government policy relating to supports for this sector over the next five years. Since taking office, President YOON Suk Yeol has underlined the importance of ‘fair access to cultural activities’ and demonstrated a strong commitment to policy enactment in the area by instructing his cabinet to “create more space and opportunity for new and young artists, and disabled artists, to exhibit their works”. In line with this, the MCST recently took steps to ensure the first art exhibition at Cheongwadae (The Blue House), which would be a special exhibition of disabled artists’ work. (Exhibition title: ‘Into the people and into harmony’, in Chunchugwan in Chengwadae, Aug 31-Sep 19)
MCST’s efforts to draw up the master plan commenced in April 2021, forming a joint sectional committee comprising disabled artists and public and private sector experts. The ministry engaged in consultation with other relevant ministries, departments and municipalities, while also fielding input and opinion from frontline stakeholders and disabled artists, via virtual public hearing sessions. This resulted in a masterplan proposing five strategic initiatives, and ten policy agenda, with the overarching vision of creating a world where disabled artists are fairly respected and can enjoy happy life along with everyone else.
According to research, the average income of disabled artists’ was around KRW 8.09 million, with an average of just KRW 2.18 million earned solely from art work. This is despite 62.2% of those surveyed stating that it is their full-time occupation. Among respondents, 92.4% believe they lack sufficient opportunities to engage in cultural and artistic activities. ‘Expansion of support and in the number of grant recipients for creative work’ was cited most often as an urgent policy requirement to address the issues (70.5%).
[Enhanced creative-field work supports] The ministry will expand art competition projects & grants for art creation, secure barrier-free spaces for artwork (a universial stage that can be a place for all), offer assistance during the entire lifecycle of artistic activity (entry to arts market, etc.)
Responding to the survey results and to add additional scaffolding for disabled artists to comfortably pursue their creative endeavors, the MCST will seek to increase annual grant aid for public art competition projects to KRW 20 billion by 2026 (KRW 6.7 billion in 2022), and widen the net of grant recipients to 2,000 people annually (619 recipients for the first half of 2022). Furthermore, to make suitable work space more available, the ministry plans to construct a universal stage for artists, along with an exhibition center, barrier-free creation zones and customized residential facilities where they can live and work. A strong case for the provision of such spaces is the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, USA. This organization, founded in 1974, supports the advancement of artists with disabilities and offers a platform for exhibition, promotion and sale of their work. The center is known for incubating the careers of some of the most renowned disabled artists, such as Dan Miller and Judith Scott.
The ministry will assist disabled artists to engage more vigorously in the marketplace, via numerous initiatives. Following revision of the Act on Supporting Disabled Artists, passed on the September 9 plenary session of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, all national, municipal and public institutions are mandated to prioritize works by the disabled when purchasing art. The ministry will: a) pursue art-leasing projects with the work of disabled artists to public institutions, libraries and medical facilities, b) scale up an on-line platform for the distribution of artwork, c) provide support for participation in international disabled artist festivals, including the UK-based “Unlimited”, and d) foster deeper co-creation and collaboration among disabled artists, domestically and worldwide.
[Broader supports promoting independence] The ministry will pursue job creation initiatives in municipal government and public institutions, and will facilitate start-ups and employment for artists with disabilities in the private sector.
To achieve these goals, the ministry will: a) build a directory of companies and public institutions offering full-time employment opportunities to the artists to offer more stable jobs to disabled artists , b) devise grant-aid policies to support them financially for their art projects, c) establish a legal basis permitting companies to employee disabled artists as term-based workers for periods exceeding two years, d) further incentivize the public sector via financial aid for those founding an art company for disabled artists, and e) implement special initiatives for artists with severe disability by leveraging the Seoul City and Gyeonggi-do’s public employment program which protects the working rights of people with severe disability.
Further new MCST initiatives to assist artists with disabilities include: a) codifying standards by specifying the definition and scope of ‘cultural and art activities’, thereby protecting employee rights and recognizing their hours of work, b) actively creating wider opportunities for new business start-ups or for securing employment, with the introduction of a new category - ‘enterprise of artists with disability’ in its project supporting art start-ups. This initiative supports start-ups in the art industry and rewards them with extra points when they apply for government-sponsored projects and, c) using secure employment as the stable basis for artists’ independent living with provision of training courses tailored to type of disability or to specific art disciplines, all aligned with trending demand from the private sector.
[Strengthened policy base] The ministry will expand arts education for people with disabilities, developing a body of professionals skilled in training, planning, production/creation and distribution.
As part of its efforts, the ministry will: a) increase access to education and training via a class voucher scheme for people with disabilities, b) partner with the ministry of Education to incorporate ‘culture and art’ lessons into special-needs schools and/or assisted classes in general schools, to deepen cultural and artistic engagement among the youth, c) nurture a core of professionals who will serve intermediary role for the education and training, planning, creation/production and distribution of the arts, to realize quantitative and qualitative growth for artists in the markets and d) develop artificial intelligence creation tools, tailored to specific art disciplines and disability type, as part of research and development efforts in cultural technology.
The MCST raised its 2023 budget for ‘Together Nuri Support Project’ by KRW 3.5 billion, for a total investment of KRW26.1 billion. This initiative is devised to energize engagement among disabled artists. The increased funding allows for a range of new sub-projects, including construction of a new arena solely devoted to disabled artist activities (KRW 1.3 billion, new project), offering assistance for those employing new technologies in their work (KRW 1.1 billion, new project), supporting art education for those with disabilities (KRW 500 million, new project) and developing a platform for distribution of works by disabled artists (KRW 200 million, new project).
 2021 Research on status of cultural and art activities by disabled artists (The Korean Culture & Tourism Institute, April-December, 2021)
 Construction scheduled to begin in 2022, before opening in 2023 (by renovating the Art-hall in the Gusegun (the Salvation Army) building
 The 57th Venice Biennale exhibited the works of Dan Milller and Judith Scott
 Online platform: the ‘Ieum Online’, run by the Korea Disability and Culture Center, will be retooled as an art-work distribution platform.
 Global festivals for disabled artists, including Unlimited/SICK! of U.K., IMAGA /Clin d'Oeil of France, No Limits / DADA of Germany
 A program initiated by Seoul City to provide tailored, public-space job opportunities to those with severe disability. The job categories comprise ‘Advocation of rights and interests’, ‘Accessibility to culture and arts’ and ‘Awareness-raising”. The MCST plans to leverage the program to design and support art-centered, rights-protected employment projects for people with severe disability.
 To nurture the professionals, the ministry will partner with relevant assorted institutions, including the Korean Art and Culture Education Service (for art teachers, art and culture education instructor, etc.), the Art Council Korea (for professionals in stage design, production and acting, intermediary professionals for sponsorship, etc.), and the Regional Culture Development Association (for professional in regional culture sector).