Act on the Vitalization of Theaters and Halls (劇場、音楽堂等の活性化に関する法律, Gekijō, Ongakudō tō no Kasseika ni kan suru Hōritsu), also known by the truncated name of Theater Law (劇場法, Gekijōhō), is a law in Japan.
The Bunka Geijutsu Shinkō Kihonhō (The Fundamental Law for the Promotion of Culture and Arts) was an act established to promote the functions of theaters, music halls, cultural halls, and other venues where cultural performances take place. The law provided stipulations for individuals, organizations, and governmental agencies that founded or managed theaters, and provided a legal framework for the cooperation of these entities for the purpose of revitalizing such institutions. It also aimed for the revitalization of the local community. The act became law on June 27, 2012.
In January 2012, the draft of the law was formulated by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. The impetus behind the law was the enactment of the Bunka Geijutsu Shinkō Kihonhō (The Fundamental Law for the Promotion of Culture and Arts) in 2001. After its enactment, people involved in culture and the arts, the core of whom were members of the Nippon Geinō Jitsuenka Dantai Kyōgikai, started to form the idea of measures to support theaters. The government called a meeting to examine this idea in 2010 and began making plans to revitalize culture and art, especially theater. However, the meetings were suspended for more than three months due to the Great East Japan earthquake on March 11, 2011. This was largely due to the fact that the National Diet's budget for culture and art was reduced. Objections were also raised against the law for various reasons. Eventually, a draft of the law was written.
Finally, the proposed law was presented to the National Diet in 2012, and went into effect in July 2012. In 2013, the Agency for Cultural Affairs began to collect ideas on ways to vitalize the theaters and arts, improve the quality of drama, and engage local communities.
The sentiments regarding Theater Law were divided. Sawako Siga, director of a theatrical company, expressed concern that Theater Law would control Japanese culture. She forecast that Japanese people would pay less attention to plays, and the government would gather subsidies all over Japan and concentrate them on public theater. By doing this, many private theaters would not be able to afford to be managed properly and would ultimately be merged with large public theaters, perhaps losing their individual identities.
From the beginning, the Japanese government gave fewer subsidies than the western countries. Some people say that considering the ripple effect of culture through media, the Japanese government should give more subsidies. Subsidies to theaters are dependent on government officials and influential members of the Diet who are on the committees. Moreover, people think that subsidies are beneficial to members of the National Diet, so when the Japanese government makes subsidies, people express strong opposition. Many Japanese people do not trust their government.
The Agency for Cultural Affairs started up the project of the 25th year of Heisei for revitalization of theaters and music halls. It contained four projects: Tokubetu Siennzigyo (the project of special support), Kyodo Seisaku Siennzigyo (the project of supporting joint production), Katudobetu Siennzigyo (the project of support classified by activity), and Gekizyo-Onngakudoto kann Network Kotiku Siennzigyo (the project of supporting network between theaters and music halls construction). Each project collected suitable organizations and gave financial support to them. On May 17, 2013, the agency announced the result. The total number of applications was 133, and 108 organizations were adopted. The budget was 2602 million. The same project of the 26th year of Heisei was carried out. On April 1, 2014, the agency announced that the total number of applications was 205, 165 organizations were adopted, and the budget was 2869 million. The organizations supported by these projects and the other organizations have tried to observe Theater Law, so they have held many symposia. For example, on June 30, 2014, and on July 1, 2014, the Nippon Geinō Jitsuenka Dantai Kyōgikai held the third connection between national theaters and music halls forum. They adopted a declaration for making the most of theaters, music halls, and art organizations, as well as enriching arts and local culture at the second forum, on January 20, 2014.