Class view of the Making Art Different program at Arts Initiative Tokyo, 2009. Photo: Keizo Kioku
Arts Initiative Tokyo (AIT) was started by six curators and arts administrators in 2001. The same year, we also began Making Art Different (MAD), an independent, non-accredited school of contemporary art, which is now the core initiative of AIT. MAD started the first curatorial studies course in Japan, and presently offers courses covering art history, artist practice, art industry, cultural policy, and workshops, and includes museum visits and guest speakers, who are invited to give lectures. AIT staff forms the core faculty, and most of our students have day jobs. Courses begin at 7 p.m. because many attend them after work. By 2011, more than 2,000 people had attended MAD courses. Alumni include many people now working in the Japanese art field.
In addition to MAD, we began Tokyo’s first systematic artist-in-residence program in 2003. We have formed partnerships with a number of foreign arts organizations that fund the residencies. AIT has also secured funds from private Japanese foundations and the Japanese Ministry of Culture to invite artists from countries that do not have a support structure in place. In addition, AIT has organized a number of exhibitions in museums and galleries, as well as experimental shows at former schools and clubs, in partnership with foundations and businesses.