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Seoul's 'Spring Day' provides opportunities for students to experience cultural performances

April 22, 2023 - 16:01 By Hwang Dong-hee
Students from Yeomdong Elementary School throw paper airplanes during a performance of “Joyful Island” by Band Sinsum, at the Guro Arts Valley in Seoul, on Friday. (Spring Day)

The Seoul Metropolitan Government has kicked off its annual “Spring Day” program, enabling some 66,000 elementary and middle school students in Seoul to attend a free performance.

The program, whose pilot program was launched in 2021, aims to provide students with opportunities to enjoy cultural performances, at the same time creating work opportunities for performing groups during the daytime.

This year, the city government has expanded eligible groups to include middle school students. A total of 66,110 students from 438 schools, including six special education schools, will participate in the program.

“More than 94 percent of students and 93 percent of teachers who participated in last year’s program responded that they were satisfied,” said Park Sook-hee, director of the Culture and Arts Division, during a press conference held at Guro Arts Valley in Seoul on Friday.

“About 75 percent of the students said they were watching a performance for the first time in their life.”

On the same day, 156 students and teachers from Yeomdong Elementary School in Gangseo-gu watched the children's musical “Joyful Island” by Band Sinsum at the same venue, clapping along and responding enthusiastically.

“When I ask students what they think art is, they find it difficult to answer. They see it as something very complicated, something vague and obscure,” said Jang Ho-yeon, a teacher at Yeomdong Elementary School.

“I find that these firsthand opportunities to watch a performance and appreciate a cultural experience are important in the process of children’s development.”

The participating performing groups will also benefit from the program, explained Park, as the demand for day time performances is usually low.

Kim Dong-jae, a guitarist of Band Sinsum, said his team is excited to participate again in the program after last year.

“Children give immediate reactions, such as clapping and making hand hearts. For the performers, the students' reactions show such a great sense of appreciation that it feels like we are getting our strength from the students.”

About 45 performing groups are scheduled to take part in the program this year. They were selected from some 400 applicants through evaluation by a group of experts on child development, as well as teachers and officials, said Park.

The program is funded by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, which allocated 3.3 billion won toward the program this year.