How can an American get money to travel to Japan?
January 31, 2008 9:53 AM   Subscribe

How can I, an American, get money to travel to Japan? - Ideally I'd like to go through arts & humanities grants, cultural exchange programs, or visiting artist/musician programs, but other forms of travel funding assistance would be great too. Bonus mefi: how can an American musician (electronic, pop, club) find venues, promoters, DJ's, clubnights, etc, that can lead to a performance while visiting Japan/Tokyo.?

My wife landed some pretty sweet grant $$ through a cultural exchange program with the university she teaches at, so she'll be heading to Tokyo for ten days in June. I want to join her in Japan after her program ends for five or six days. Her travel costs and lodging are pretty much covered, but mine aren't. What I'd like to do is find some funding sources I can apply to in order to make the trip a bit more affordable. I'm a digital video/animation artist and an electronic musician who's entering an MFA program this fall, so programs/grants along this line would be super helpful.
Additionally, my wife and I perform in an electronic pop/dance/electro music "band" - and if we could land a gig or two while in Tokyo, that'd be....well...awesome. The problem is, I know how to go after shows in the states, but I'm at a loss on how to go after shows in Japan/Tokyo.
Any help's definitely appreciated!
posted by itchi23 to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've had friends in the electronic/experimental scene who used to do tours (US and Europe), and in general, the idea was you would get booked by people who you knew from online mailing lists, playing shows, record labels, etc. If you haven't started networking, start now. In general there is a bit of give and take, we threw local events, so when people were in OUR city, we'd book them for shows. Worst case, try and find out about venues in the area that do electronic shows and call them directly to talk to a booker.

the big mailing list for the experimental scene used to be an IDM list, not sure what is en vogue now.
posted by fishfucker at 11:57 AM on January 31, 2008

I've assessed grant applications, and I'd say your chances of getting a grant are pretty poor because you're starting from the wrong place. You want a cool holiday at the same time as your wife and you're looking for money to do it. Travel grants (in my experience anyway) are for people who need a specific piece of training or experience which will ultimately benefit their community by increasing the cultural or technical knowledge available within it. A good grant application comes from having a damn good reason why someone should give you that money - a genuine demonstrated need for this piece of training, research or experience. If you don't have that justification, your application is almost bound to be weak and is going to be overlooked in favour of stronger ones. You'll be wasting your time applying, as well as the time of the people who have a lot of genuine applications to sort through.

Added to that, most grants will require you to actually detail what you'll be doing while you're there, and produce a decent report demonstrating what you've learned and how you'll apply it. And many travel grants are only partial and will require you to come up with some of the money anyway. You'd be better advised to get a part-time job and saving that money for the holiday, rather than spending the time trying to research a grant which has an uncertain outcome, trying to find some reason to apply for it, spending time writing it, creating a budget and travel plan, doing all the background work associated with it, and writing the report afterwards. Since you're going to have to work for the money even if it is a grant, why not get a job and then go on holiday knowing your time is your own while you're there?
posted by andraste at 8:25 PM on January 31, 2008

if your act is any good then joi ito might be able to provide some leads on the gig front. Tell 'em your from metafilter!
posted by panamax at 1:03 AM on February 1, 2008

gjc: wtf.

As for the question: In addition to andraste's excellent answer I'll add possibly the most basic issue: timing. February applications won't result in funding for the same June. More like the following year's June.

This June visit will be most valuable to you as planning and connection-building time. Any connections you make will be valuable fuel for future applications. Start looking at grant possibilities now for your future (2009 and beyond) travels, so you can plan specific projects for those applications.

A great place to research arts travel funding is the free national database called NYFA Source at NYFA also has people on staff who will answer your questions for free.
posted by sparrows at 1:57 AM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

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