In the early 2000s, some public institutions and performance venues began to lunch art incubation programs. Art incubation aims to provide new talent to keep the art ecosystem healthy. Various opportunities, such as showcase and public reading, are offered to artists before they finish works. It is a type of investment focusing on the process of creativity and the potential of artists, rather than competition.
One of the most prominent examples in the private sector is the Doosan Art Center. In the performance community, there is an established understanding that works from the center guarantee good quality. The Yonkang Hall built in 1993 as a patronage initiative reopened as the Doosan Art Center in 2007, featuring incubation programs, such as the Doosan Art Lab and the DAC Artist, to communicate with young artists.
“Constantly exchanging good questions with artists,” is the incubation philosophy adopted by Producer Nam Yun-il who has been leading the Doosan Art Lab for the past 10 years. Sixty-seven production groups selected by the Doosan Art Lab have showcased 72 works 212 times on stage since 2010, bringing in 11,817 audience members. Up to seven million won is provided to each production group for the development of works, along with equipment, practice rooms, and promotion and marketing.
“We have introduced works that are rough and experimental but have their own artistic languages,” said Producer Nam. “The success of incubation depends on creators and an institution keeping an appropriate distance but asking contemporary questions to each other.” Traditional Korean music singer Lee Ja-ram, directors Kim Dong-yeon and Lee Gyeong-seong, and set designer Yeo Shin-dong are some of the graduates of the Doosan Art Lab. The organization will feature six works this year with nine works following next year.
The DAC Artist program supports artists from mid- to long-term perspective, providing up to 100 million won for production to those who have created more than two works. From this year, participants will be selected with a goal to stage their works in 2022. An environment where creators can experiment has been prepared step-by-step in the small world of the Doosan Art Center.
Applicants of both programs should be under the age of 40, considering that most artists start to create their own unique works in their 30s.
The criterion of incubation’s success is whether works supported by the Doosan Art Center are staged regularly outside the center. Aside from such a visible success, the programs also provide an invisible sense of fulfillment. “The atmosphere within the center allowing experiments and failures promotes creativity,” Producer Nam said. “A sense of fulfillment for incubation comes from the fact that it provides greater values of failures.”