TOKYO - Tribute acts are a part of rock 'n' roll, and as of this weekend, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has its own variation with the opening of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame - Japan in Tokyo.
"Rock and roll is a universal language and this is an incredible opportunity for us to collaborate with the Japan Project Production Committee to deliver an exciting experience internationally," said Greg Harris, president and CEO of the Rock Hall in a June release announcing the expansion of the museum into the Far East. "Japan is the second-largest music market in the world, making it the perfect place for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's first international expansion."
Harris and two colleagues from the Cleveland-based museum, curatorial affairs chief Karen Herman and curator Craig Inciardi, were in Tokyo for the ceremonies. The museum opened to the Japanese public at 10 a.m. Saturday, Tokyo time, which would have been 9 p.m. Friday night in Cleveland.
The new facility will be run by a Japanese group, with approval and oversight from Cleveland. Some of the exhibits from here are now on view there, installed by Herman and her team, said Todd Mesek, the museum's vice president of marketing and communications.
Tokyo is 13 hours ahead of Cleveland, and the time difference made it difficult for one-on-one interview via phone. However, Mesek was able to answer several questions posed in an emailed request. Other questions are awaiting answer from Harris and Herman.
Q: How did the opening of an arm of the RRHOF in come about?
A: The broadcast of the Inductions was the entry point. Japan media carried it and it was immensely popular. A group in Japan approached us about extending the Rock Hall experience in Japan. This fits in our strategy to use traveling exhibits to engage people on the road, create a new revenue source and draw attention and support for Rock Hall in Cleveland.
Q: What made Japan a likely choice for the first expansion of the Rock Hall?
A: Immense popularity of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Japan; Immense popularity of Rock and Roll in Japan. Japan is the second largest market for music in the world.
Q: Will it be the only expansion?
A: For now. Never say never.
Q: Who will be running it, and will it be a separate entity, or a "satellite'' of the Cleveland facility, under the official leadership of Greg and the local board?
A: The operations are managed by the Japanese Group. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has approval and oversight of all exhibits and marketing. We're working closely together. Some artifacts from our collection are exhibited there and Karen and her team supervised the installation.
Q: Who are the partners for the Tokyo facility?
A: A group of Japanese business and entertainment leaders.
Q: What role with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, headed by Joel Peresman, have there?
A: We're all in it together. Greg drove the deal and Joel was in the conversations about the trademark.
Q: What kind of exhibits are there, and what kind will be -- specifically, will some of the "traveling exhibits'' that are born in the Cleveland museum spend time there?
A: Definitely. Traveling exhibits will go there and we'll loan select artifacts. There are some different nuances in terms of cultural appeal. The Japanese are big on guitar heroes and video. We worked with the team to create exhibits that resonate best there.
Q: Conversely, will there be exhibits born there that make their way to Cleveland?
A: TBD. . . . I think unlikely, but we're entrepreneurial and I don't think we'd rule that out.
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