Why Do I Think The Arts Need Kaizen?

Learning about Kaizen has influenced how I conduct my daily routines. Kaizen stands for Kai=change (the action to correct), and Zen = good (for the better). It is originally a Japanese philosophy that focuses on gradual and continuous improvement, and change for the better. It has been applied in multiple industries from business to life-coaching. Originally when applied to the workplace, Kaizen refers to activities that continually improve all functions, and involves ALL employees from the top to the assembly line workers. It implies a constant improvement with the aim to eliminate waste. Historically, Kaizen was first implemented in several Japanese businesses after the Second World War, influenced in part by American business and quality management teachers who visited the country.

On that note Kaizen in the Arts would be helpful. We need to improve how art is viewed by the public, and as an activity that is economic, productive and educational. In that sense, we need to implement venues (museums for example) to be more inclusive and productive. What museums are currently offering to the public is not quite clear, whose interests are being served, and whether public funds are being optimized. Furthermore, is not just museums that need to be examined on the basis of their funding and purposes, but improvements should also be sought regarding how the arts are supported publicly through policies. There are so many gaps in policy making when it comes to the arts that leave artists and the general public uncertain of what is important, and it leads some to question whether supporting the arts in the city as a means to foster culture is a desirable and feasible goal. Could we foster culture without the arts? I don’t think so. Art is a really important means through which culture is fostered and represented. Kaizen could be a helpful way of knowing in the arts if it’s taken to heart.

The Kaizen methods consist of five implementation elements, and below I listed how to apply them to the arts:

  1. Teamwork:  We are all important, as a society we need to collectively participate in the arts, in ways such as supporting our favourite arts/artists from the most established to the most marginalised, at all levels
  2. Personal discipline:  The individual public needs to seek and received education on artists’ practices to understand current trends and movements
  3. Improved morale:  Asking the artists what they need and asking the public what they want
  4. Quality circle: Ensuring equity and fair access for all in the arts
  5. Suggestions for improvement:  Asking for constant feedback, coming from artists, curators, policy-makers, and the public

For the most part, the arts are in the periphery and artists are undermined. In my opinion, Kaizen is a helpful way to make an impact in the arts community. Kaizen comes from the words, “Renew the heart and make it good.” Arts and culture need to be renewed, supported, and made better for the cultural benefits of its citizens. A journey of culture begins with gradual improvement; a single step of support is a start.

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