The musical Dreamers (夢想家), commissioned by the former Council for Cultural Affairs (CCA) to celebrate the centennial of the Republic of China, cost more than NT$215 million (US$7.1 million) of taxpayer money.
It was roundly condemned by the arts community over the cost of the production compared with the actual quality of the performance, with many saying they were “horrified” by the amount spent.
The newly established Ministry of Culture (MOC) inherited the financial legacy of this travesty from the council, and there has yet to be an adequate explanation offered to the public for the waste it entailed.
Recently, the ministry’s Bureau of Audiovisual and Music Industry Development announced the recipients of this year’s subsidies for pop music production and integrated marketing.
The subsidies are part of the bureau’s 2013 Pop Music Industry Development Project, which has a budget of almost NT$100 million.
In response to concerns of behind-closed-doors selection processes, the ministry gave assurances that the procedure was tried and tested, and that the main objective was to “inspire the creativity of musicians with a view to stimulating the pop music market.”
For the time being questions such as who will receive the subsidies and how much they will receive, what are the projects or productions these subsidies are intended to support can be set aside.
However, comments made by Tseng Chin-man (曾金滿), head of popular music at the bureau, bear consideration.
“When we were deciding who would be awarded the subsidy, we had only seen the business proposal, we hadn’t actually listened to the music, but we thought the proposal was very creative,” Tseng said.
He also said of another artist that 95 percent of the songs on the individual’s first release were original compositions, and that the marketing had been very topical, which helped reinforce the artist’s brand.
Resulting performances, design work and overall visual experience inspired others, and so helped develop talent, Tseng said.
For this reason, the ministry considered the CD to be quite innovative, and decided to award the artist a subsidy of NT$3.5 million.
Another singer, who had just released a third solo album, was awarded NT$6 million.
The reason given was that “the content represents an improvement from this performer’s previous two releases, and strengthens the performer’s image and own individual characteristics, being an excellent example of success in moving to a solo career from having performed as part of a group.”
We pay our taxes to support these clueless officials who have control of the allocation of resources.
Here we have these young performers, who have already had their international debuts, going cap in hand to the ministry and asking for money, and these clueless officials give it to them.
Chiang Li-jung is deputy CEO of Chiang Wei-shui's Cultural Foundation.
Translated by Paul Cooper