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Okinawa National Theater sparks criticism before even open

Date Posted: 2002-06-13

The Okinawa National Theater now under construction on a site just south of Camp Kinser in Urasoe City is scheduled for completion in March 2003.

Although the grand opening is almost a year away, some in the island prefecturefs cultural circles are wondering whether there will be enough use for the complex. They say that as of today there are no bookings or plans for the use of the theater.

The theater is being built by funds from the budget of the Ministry of Culture. The ministry is also responsible for managing and funding the operation of the theater. An official at the@ministry says that there are plans in the place. gWe have already planning the schedule at the ministry, and we will publish it as soon as we have a firm date for the completion and opening of the theater,h he assures.

Maybe the cautious approach from the ministryfs side is warranted. The contractor building the complex says that the original timetable was way too tight. gJust now it looks that it is possible to complete the theater complex by the end of next year if everything goes right,h a spokesman for the contractor says.

Currently, there are only five national theaters in Japan. Four of them are in Tokyo and one is in Osaka. They have been in operation for many years and each specializing in its own field of culture have built a solid reputation and audiences to support them.

gOkinawa has a population of only a little over one million people and I doubt if thatfs enough to support the theater,h a local artist says. gThe only way to make the Okinawa National Theater a success is to think globally,h she insists. gIf we invite artists from China, Hong Kong, Philippines, Japan, and other countries, it might be possible to attract international tourists and fill the schedule.h

Critics point to the fact that all other national theaters have their schedules fully booked at least a year ahead. gIn Okinawa, people hardly know that such an institution in the making,h a local NPO activist says.

The biggest problems seem to be too little information from the officials at the Ministry of Culture, too little action on behalf of planners and too much miscommunication between all parties concerned.

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