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University-Community Collaboration Activities at Art Area B1

To recognize companies and organizations contributing to the promotion of the arts and culture, the Mecenat Awards 2009 were announced on October 30, 2009. University-community collaboration in cultural activities at Art Area B1 in Naniwabashi Station on the Nakanoshima Line of Keihan Electric Railway was awarded the Commissioner for Cultural Affairs Award by the Association for Corporate Support of the Arts, Japan.

Art Area B1 is an open space on the concourse of the 1st basement of the Naniwabashi Station on the Keihan Electric Railway's Nakanoshima Line. A steering committee consisting of Keihan Electric Railway, NPO Dance Box, and Osaka University is in charge of Art Area B1.

A major program instituted at Art Area B1 is the "Lab Café," designed and implemented by the Center for the Study of Communication-Design. Lab Café is an interactive program in which participants have wide-ranging discussions on a variety of topics. The program aims to make the station a communication space in the arts and academia by taking up various themes in philosophy, art, science and technology and providing the general public with chances to be exposed to expertise on those topics.

This prize recognizes the uniqueness of producing a space for art and academia in a urban area through cooperation between a business, a university, and an NPO. Further development is highly anticipated.

Nakanoshima Communication Café was launched at Naniwabashi Station in 2006 during its construction work as a society-university project to experiment with the possibilities of a station as an urban space. A variety of uses for the station were presented in 2007 and 2008 through various trials.

The concourse on the 1st basement of Naniwabashi Station was set up as Art Area B1 at the time of opening of the Keihan Electric Railway's Nakanoshima Line on October 19, 2008, which kicked off the project to make the station a center of artistic communication.

In 2009, university-community collaboration was carried out in projects with Aqua Metropolis Osaka, which examined the culture originating along rivers with the goal of reinvigorating the Nakanoshima area.

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