Wed, May 09, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Redefining ‘cultural and creative’

By Lu Ching-fu 呂清夫

What would happen if a cultural and creative park became a grocery park? During the Legislative Yuan’s review of draft amendments to the Act for the Development of the Cultural and Creative Industries (文化創意產業發展法), Ministry of Culture officials were asked whether a women’s shoes sale at Taipei’s Huashan 1914 Creative Park constituted a cultural and creative event. The answer was “no,” with the ministry saying that the park should be better used.

Similarly, Songshan Cultural and Creative Park operates more like a department store. Why have such cases occurred for so long?

The government hands over its cultural and creative parks to businesses to run as build-operate-transfer (BOT) projects, but these businesses often forget about the art and focus on profit. They compete for profitable business and forget about cultural and creative affairs.

This is a result of the government’s inadequate supervision and direction, which should be based on a clear definition of what can be called cultural and creative.

No wonder legislators demanded that the government distinguish between cultural and creative affairs and other affairs, and that academics have called for it to restrict the scope of what it considers cultural and creative affairs so it can stop shooting in the dark when it comes to BOT deals.

Prior to the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) taking office in May 2016, the ministry was planning to redefine the concept, but nothing has happened since then.

The cultural and creative industries in Taiwan are more complex than in the UK, seen as the birthplace of such industries. The British creative industries include 12 sectors, while Taiwan has 16.

The UK excludes the cultural sector from the creative industries, because according to its definition, creative industries are “those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent, and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property,” so the cultural sector does not belong here.

The cultural sector — the “cultural facility for exhibiting and performing industries” — is included in Taiwan. It consists of seven sectors, including art galleries, museums and concert halls. Due to the wide scope, it seems almost anything can be interpreted as being part of the cultural and creative industries and therefore can be allowed in cultural and creative parks.

These days, even a TV cooking show can be labeled as part of the cultural and creative industries.

The government should lead the efforts to correct this situation.

Cultural and creative parks are indirectly managed by the ministry, which last month hosted the annual Creative Expo Taiwan, which could have offered an opportunity to correct its mistaken image of such parks. Unfortunately, the expo was akin to a grocery fair. The Japanese version of the expo’s Web page proclaimed that the expo was perfect for buyers interested in Taiwanese groceries and product design.

Similar exhibitions in Taiwan are too numerous to count, such as the Taiwan Design Expo, the Taipei World Design Expo — licensed by International Design Alliance — and the 100 Years of Taiwanese Design Exhibition.

The quality of the Creative Expo Taiwan did not surpass those events, not surprising given that its third edition in 2012 was criticized for the uneven quality of its participants.

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