Wed, Nov 14, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Taiwan’s artists go to market

The Huashan performance showcase last month provided an opportunity for small and medium-sized groups to show international arts curators that Taiwan has a hugely diverse arts scene

By Ian Bartholomew  /  Staff reporter

Both these groups felt that the experience of participating in the showcase had been useful and Chang Yuan-rung (張遠榮), the director of Hung Sheng Lion Dance, told the Taipei Times that their performance had generated significant interest. The interest from Western curators was a pleasant surprise, but Chang Yuan-rung said he was astonished by the interest shown by curators from Asian countries. “They noted that there were significant differences between our style of performance and those by groups in their own country,” Chang said, and were very positive about the possibility of invitations in future.

In a related conversation, Kim Eunhee, an assistant manager for Korea Art Management Service (KAMS), who was in Taiwan participating in the showcase, commented on the increase in regional arts exchange between Asian countries. “Compared to our knowledge of the Western arts and cultural scene, we [in Asia] do not know each other so well. So recently people have begun to think more about how interesting it might be for collaborations between artists in the Asia region.”

Kim said that KAMS was already exploring the possibility of a number of collaborations based on her experience at the showcase.

PAA’s Chang Yu-kuo said that the success or failure of the showcase did not depend on the number of invitations it generated directly. He felt that the event was very much a kind of introductory event that might plug Taiwan into the consciousness of the international arts festival community. Chang acknowledged that in this information age there is nothing stopping tech savvy young artists generating exposure of their work using modern communications technology. “But Taiwan does not have a real presence yet. We want to leave our guests with the idea that Taiwan has plenty to offer international arts festivals, things that are perhaps a bit different from what they have seen elsewhere.”

“As the international arts festival community isn’t all that big, by bringing some of these curators here, we can get the information out to many more as they communicate with each other, plugging Taiwan into the arts festival network,” Chang added.

Making compromises

The prospect of participation in international festivals is inevitably appealing for groups wishing to grow not only in reputation but also as a way of honing their own skills and seeking inspiration. Nevertheless, the format of the showcase was not universally popular. Faye Liang (梁菲倚) of Mobius Strip Theater (莫比斯圓環創作公社), a group performing in the Huashan Arts Festival but not participating in the showcase, said that the 20-minute format was a little too much like a beauty pageant for her taste.

“If curators come along and see our show, and they like it, we are happy to accept invitations to perform,” she said. She suggested, however, that the showcase could not give festival curators a full insight into what individual groups such as Mobius Strip are really about.

Chiu An-chen (邱安忱), artistic director of The Party Theater Group, who did participate in the showcase, gave a qualified agreement, commenting that the 20-minute format meant that the total concept of some performances might be substantially compromised. He nevertheless maintained that given limited opportunities for small groups, this was an acceptable compromise solution.

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