In this study, I clarify the conflict between the practices of artists who are active on the urban streets and the control by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in the Heaven Artist Program. Specifically, I attempt to show a part of the control in the urban space by empirically describing the awareness and reactions of artists with regard to this control by the government. I will address the “Heaven Artist Program,” which is the street artist license system and part of the cultural policy of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, to explain the relationship between the practices of artists and the control by the government in the Heaven Artist Program. The method of the study involves analyzing narratives from interviews of Heaven Artists and the staff of the Heaven Artist office in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. In the following text, I present the findings that emerged in this study.
First, with regard to the control of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, recruitment and auditions of Heaven Artists are held every year. I understand the need for artists obtaining a license, because they are constantly applying for them. However, Heaven Artists who have obtained a license are subject to various rules. The places at which a large number of Heaven Artists are active are the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum and Ueno Park. However, for 60% of all the activity facilities and sites, the usage rate is less than 10%. The field manager exercises strict control, based on rules, over the activities of the Heaven Artists.
Moreover, the practices of Heaven Artists in the light of such control results in the artists interpreting the rules broadly and escaping the control of the government while pretending to obey it. This behavior of Heaven Artists depends on their dissatisfaction with regard to the strict rules and control of the Heaven Artist office. However, although Heaven Artists have voiced such dissatisfaction, they have not jointly demanded program improvements from the Heaven Artist office. This is because Heaven Artists utilize not only this program but also other activity opportunities. Thus, Heaven Artists not only choose this program but also use other activity opportunities to a large extent. In the case of this choice, income becomes an important factor. As artists, income from creating art is their bread and butter and a direct evaluation of their talents. Furthermore, they revalidate themselves as artists by the amount that they earn. Heaven Artists take advantage of other activity opportunities in addition to this program. Further, they frequent spaces controlled by the Heaven Artist office while evading the regulation of this program.