By Planning & Mgt. Division
Many scholars are active in studying theater management. Whenever there comes out a thesis on that subject, we analyze it and make an effort to graft it on our own management. We are also never lazy in collecting information to learn from management records and experiences of similar institutions in other countries. In fact, back in 1983 when the SAC construction office was opened at the Korean Culture and Arts Foundation to discuss how to build and operate SAC, the models mainly referred to were Barbican Center of England, Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center of the U.S. and Center Georges Pompidou of France. Besides, the First National Theater of Japan, Gasteig Cultural Center of Germany, South Bank Art Center of England, Sydney Opera House of Australia, Smithsonian Institution, Hollywood Ball, Carnegie Hall of the U.S., and Berlin Cultural Center and Vienna Opera Theater were also looked at.
Theater management has two main streams: the European style that depends on the government grants and the American style relying on sponsorship and commercial promotion. Neither way assured financial independence and was difficult to outright apply to SAC. Finally, that the management style that suits the Korean environment, sleep , something of combining both, should be adopted, or devised became a predominant idea. This discussion is still continuing since 1983 and leaning toward the independent management system through gradual fund raising.
This year marks the 10th anniversary since SAC started as a legal foundation in Jan. 7, 1987 after preceding years of planning and construction. There were many changes within and outside the nation for the past ten years: '88 Seoul Olympics, surge in local performances by world's renowned art companies in the wake of collapse of the former Soviet Union, inauguration of the civilian government, and Korea's joining of OECD. These signal that Korea is just about to become an advanced nation. SAC opened the Music Hall and Calligraphy Hall in 1988 under the catchphrase "First step toward the renaissance of Korean culture and arts in the 21st century" and participated in the cultural festival during the Summer Olympics. In 1991 Art Gallery and Arts Library were opened, and the following opening of the Opera House in 1993 completed the SAC complex. For the last three years after the full opening we put into the test operation one of the world's few arts complex on a gigantic scale and had trials and errors.
We knocked on the corporate doors numerous times asking for funding and restlessly visited related government departments to explain what we do to earn the public money and government subsidy. As a result, about 30% of our financial resources are supported by public and governmental fund. In 1996 we managed to achieve more than 50% of financial independence from shop rental, parking lot operation, corporate sponsorship as well as from ticket sales, and this year our target is 60%. However, the unstable income that changes every year makes the long-term planning difficult. So this year we are planning to organize an aid association to raise 64 million US dollars for the next ten years. We will also start licensing business with our character products and introduce cultural marketing technique that will link tourism and sports industry.
In 1988 SAC made a ten-year plan under the banner "An Advance Visit to SAC" and this year announced a new ten-year mid/long-term strategy for the next decade titled "SAC Vision 2007." Seeing the years to 2000 as a take-off period and the next six years as a maturity period, this plan, in preparation for the 20th anniversary in 2007, reassures SAC's determination to innovate itself to be on the equal standing with world-class competitors and to grow internal strength to be more responsive to the rapid changes of the information age in creating and reproducing cultural and artistic value. (See "SAC Vision 2007")
Our main focus in this new plan is customer. We launched "SAC-21 Best 5" campaign in May 1995 to improve service to the highest level and declared the year '96 as the "First Year of Customer Satisfaction," which has produced following results:
First, we started to run a shuttle bus from the nearest subway station to the Center and had more town buses be run around the time of performances. We are currently talking to the authorities to improve city bus routes to pass by SAC.
Second, we installed over 200 automatic ticketing machines at subway stations, allowing tickets to be bought with credit cards. With the electronic sales system to be completed in the first half of this year, we will start phone booking, and soon customers will be able to buy tickets at home through information network.
Third, we renovated our signs to easily find a number of buildings and identify complex theater structures. The Service Plaza installed inside the Opera House is opened from 09:00 a.m. to 09:00 p.m. all around the year to provide integrated service (so-called one-stop service) encompassing telephone customer service and information (82-2-580-1234), lost and found, membership registration and ticket reservation. Currently, tickets can be reserved only at the service desk, but after the completion of the electronic ticketing system in the first half of this year, more reservation desks are to be set up inside the Center.
Fourth, we are operating Kid's World free of charge for the convenience of young and middle aged audience accompanying preschool kids and to develop potential customers for the future. Children can enjoy themselves during performance in the Kid's World, and when they grow up, they will still keep the impression and good memory of SAC. Kid's World is more than a day-care center or play room; kids are read, play and sleep and watch good programs under the guidance of experienced teachers. It is more of a cultural facility for children. Since it started from the concept that kids should be able to enjoy as much as their parents enjoy the performance, we will continue to develop various programs to differentiate itthings. We hope that it will contribute to fostering a new family culture by encouraging parents and kids to talk about their joys and experiences at the Center and to share their feelings.
Fifth, we also run service facilities, such as art shop, restaurants, fast food outlets and cafes that will help double the excitement of the performance and last it longer. Yet there are a lot more things to be done after three years of operation. To meet different demands from diverse levels of customers and to compensate for the lack of seasonal facilities and inactive use of outdoor space, we are planning to run outdoor cafe, temporary outdoor stage and enhance lighting of the facilities. In addition, other items are under consideration for better customer service.
Apart from our major management tasks of financial independence and customer satisfaction, we are actively involved in domestic and overseas exchange programs in a bid to keep abreast of global, information era. Inside the country we established National Association of Culture and Arts Centers (NACAC) in 1995 and is chairing the organization of 25 members. We earned acclamation from the regional people who desire for artistic enjoyment by performing the grand hit opera 'Marriage of Figaro' at ten theaters in nine cities, making the record sold-out of all performances. Outside the country we publicized Association of Asia-Pacific Performing Arts Centers (AAPPAC) made up of 12 institutions from 8 countries. Its foundation general meeting was held at the Victorian Arts Center in Melbourne in October 1996. There SAC has been decided as the venue for the first general meeting scheduled in September 1997 and appointed as the second chairman for 1998. Internet will be an important vehicle in boosting exchange in the cultural and artistic field between SAC and other AAPPAC member nations and in facilitating communication of related information around the world. SAC will also create a homepage for AAPPAC-Net and open it in time for the first general meeting this fall.
This year, the starting year for realization of "SAC Vision 2007," will be a turning point for SAC in its endeavor to become the world-class arts center. SAC's all staff members will continue to work hard to make it come true.
We look forward to your caring advice, encouragement and insightful criticism.