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The Long Now Concerts


Music and dance are a window on the past: to histories, ideas and culture that form our heritage. At the same time, the act itself of creating music or of dancing is a model for how ideas, stories and culture can become the heritage of future generations.

2009 celebrated the 150th anniversary of the opening of our town's port. WMDF marked this not by just looking at the past, but also by encouraging a long view of the future: "150 years past, 150 years forward".

In 1978, Elise Boulding diagnosed the problem of our time as "temporal exhaustion": "If one is mentally out of breath all the time from dealing with the present, there is no energy left for imagining the future". As a remedy, she suggested expanding our idea of the present to two hundred years---100 years backwards and one hundred years forwards. Such a time-scale encompasses grandparents to grandchildren---people to whom we feel responsible.

This type of thinking has recently been given significant impetus by the work of the Long Now Foundation. WMDF has no affiliation with the Long Now Foundation, but we share the goal of wanting to spread "Long Now" and "Big Here" thinking. For us, the mix of tradition, education, and global exchange represented by an international festival is beautifully suited for this.

Expanding peoples' sense of both time and space ("Long Now, Big Here") describes not only what we hope for as the result of our efforts, but also the core performance method by which our Festival achieves its goal. Through unique stages and through creating global ties of shared friendship and experience, WMDF aims year on year to help the world build a long, big future.

Sponsor Pass ("Shimin Sponsor Pass")

Sponsor Pass

A large number of WMDF events are free. The responsibility of funding the Festival is taken on by normal Hakodate townspeople, who buy a "Sponsor Pass". This is symbolic of the support of the whole town. The Sponsor Pass expands the time and the space of the Festival: sponsors are encouraged to wear the pass as an advertisement in the run-up to the event, and a large number of shops and restaurants around town offer discounts to pass holders.


Although stage performances may appear to be the focus of the festival, WMDF is all about the changing of world-views. Visiting groups will take away with them a whole new vision of Asia, Japan and Hakodate. Festival-goers will have their horizons expanded. And the people who have the ultimate experience from the Festival? The staff. The WMDF Committee takes the training of staff seriously, so our meetings typically have some element of study (often with out-of-the-box workshops). This is the most obvious way that peoples' own lives are changed. But WMDF brings together people from an extraordinary cross-section of local life, and we are able to realise something of the effects that we can have on the lives of others. Especially once artists start to arrive, we have the rare opportunity to genuinely feel what it means to be a working part of an event that can stay in the hearts and minds of people across the globe for years to come. WMDF is far longer and far bigger inside than out. Care to join us?

WMDF Concept Book/Fliers

We have a concept leaflet summarising our philosophy. Also, we have distributed fliers at our events giving introductions to Long Now and Big Here thinking. Click on the images below to view.

concept wmdfdownload

concept wmdfdownload

About WMDF

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Volunteer Staff