Mission of Teams

Personal relationships bring together ideas and form the foundation of all projects

Hiroko Koike, Manager, Business Development Department

Workshops for turning wishes into power

Theaters invariably want to attract as many performers and visitors as possible, because the raison d'être of theaters is to provide moving experiences to people and enrich their lives emotionally and intellectually. For this reason, theaters need someone who is enthusiastic about performing arts, understands the role of theaters, and is at the same time sympathetic to what diverse users want from theaters. My job is to support the “soft” aspects of theater-making, which enable the views and wishes of theater users to be reflected in theater construction, management and operation.
Theatre Workshop embarked on consulting services focusing on how performing arts venues were used because it found it lamentable that so many of them were treated as white elephants, not sufficiently understood or utilized, despite being built with great expectations as city or town symbols. Through its rich industry experience, Theatre Workshop had become aware that facilities and functions that are underused almost without exception lack a user perspective. This is why during the project-formulation stage Theatre Workshop researches the actual situations of neighboring facilities, painstakingly collects views of community members involved in the arts, and identifies actual demand and latent needs, which are collated and reflected in the design conditions.

Because we know that the best way to find out what users want from a theater or hall is to listen to would-be users and operators, Theatre Workshop’s “soft” consulting team takes the lead in organizing nationwide participatory workshops for local residents, which makes it possible for residents to become actively involved in their local theater/hall-making process from its conception stage.

The never-ending process of theater/hall-making

Sadly, although a conventional consultant can help give birth to a theater/hall, it cannot remain with it throughout its formative years, a task that is left to staff and local residents. Community members who have been involved in a theater/hall project from its construction stage are often happy to remain actively involved in efforts to improve the theater/hall after it has opened. Likewise, Theatre Workshop’s services do not end with construction but include ongoing support for staff and community efforts to nurture a theater/hall.

Members of the public who participate in workshops and pre-events become members of our project team, alongside the architects and government officials involved. An important role of the “soft” consulting team is to collate and give tangible shape to the diverse ideas of each team member, so that the theater/hall will become cherished by the local community.

The “soft” consulting team takes pains to create materials that clearly and visually communicate their purpose, and to provide explanations conscientiously and thoroughly. We believe that a consultant has an obligation to organize information in an easy-to-understand way, so that all parties have a full understanding. Each workshop we hold asks participants to respond to a questionnaire. Friendly and often humorous, these questionnaires act as tools for developing relationships of trust between ourselves—who are outsiders—and local residents, and as tools for inspiring greater interest and participation in the project.

To actively utilize arts venues, it is essential to be familiar with laws and ordinances pertaining to such facilities and their operation. It is necessary also to remain constantly up to date with situations of similar facilities at home and abroad, and with new trends, so that we can draw from them new ideas for facility utilization. A unique strength of Theatre Workshop is its ability to support theater/hall construction and operation comprehensively, from human-to-human relationships to complicated formalities.

Manager, Business Development Department
Hiroko Koike

While a performing arts major at the School of Literature, Waseda University, Koike had the experience of working part-time at a movie theater. She joined Theatre Workshop at the recommendation of its representative, Masaji Ito, who highly rated her communication skills, demonstrated when the two and others jointly launched a theater professional training course at Waseda University. In addition to workshops for assisting the launch of community theaters, she is actively engaged in private-sector projects. Her emphasis on unquantifiable user satisfaction in addition to measurable usage rate and profitability has earned her the trust of both venue operators and users.

She received a national subvention “Program of overseas study for upcoming artists” from Agency for Cultural Affairs Japan and based on Quebec from 2015 to 2016.