Operated as an art center by Recruit Holdings Co., Ltd., the exhibition venue BUG opened on September 20th, 2023. It is located on the first floor of the Gran Tokyo South Tower, on the Yaesu South Exit side of Tokyo station. For over 30 years, Recruit operated the Creation Gallery G8 and Guardian Garden in Ginza. These two facilities mainly featured works from the fields of design, graphic art, and photography.
While the opening of BUG aligns with this trajectory, the scope of this center also expands beyond the aforementioned fields of artistic expression to the broader realm of fine arts. Furthermore, BUG is worth noting as a novel initiative that is set to support the future of cultural activities. This is because the public sector is undergoing significant shifts, and the endeavor must be considered within that context.
Before moving onto the content of the exhibition, I want to elaborate on this point.
As I already mentioned, Recruit has been developing infrastructures to support cultural activities for over 30 years. When we solely consider the field of fine art, historically, the presence of conventional artworks has long been supported in large part by museums and commercial galleries. However, particularly in the case of (public) domestic museums , funding has typically relied on tax revenue. The recent decline in Japan’s population, especially the working population, has resulted in a decrease in tax revenues, causing severe challenges for the operation of these institutions. In recent years, the active engagement of for-profit entities such as corporations has become more prominent, providing an alternative to non-profit organizations or public institutions. While there are art museums that are supported by non-profit foundations (such as the Artizon Museum, Pola Museum, Sen-oku Hakukokan Museum, and Seikado Bunko Art Museum), there is a growing trend of non-profit initiatives operated in a manner akin to BUG, which do not fit within that schema. For example, there is the CSR model where businesses contribute their services for social good, or the philanthropic approach, where these endeavors are conducted using the surplus capacities of the core business. It seems the new norm is that companies cannot gain the support of their consumers without partaking in such initiatives. Although I do not have space to delve into specifics here, BUG’s activities cannot be overlooked if one is searching for insight into the future of corporate social contributions, a domain that is rapidly gaining momentum. The policies presented by BUG further underscore their commitment. It is worth mentioning here that, in addition to gender equality, their dedication to establishing fair partnerships with artists is explicitly stated, along with the creation of a conducive environment for payments, including specified participation fees. In fact, BUG’s directive on “Ensuring Appropriate Partnerships” is defined as follows.
– Setting appropriate compensation for artists and curators.
– Providing explanations of contracts and confirming terms prior to entering an agreement.
– Ensuring that contracts are finalized before carrying out work, and including clear provisions in the contract which detail each party’s rights, including copyright, as well as remuneration and production expenses.
– Securing insurance coverage to address potential injuries or other issues concerning artists and art workers during the operation of exhibitions. (From https://bug.art/en/about/)
The fact is, there are very few organizations that clearly articulate such points. These efforts are likely to make a significant impact on the dismal financial conditions that artists face, including the artist fee.