The producer of a controversial Double Ten National Day celebration performance titled Dreamers (夢想家) said yesterday he did not win the contract because of his connections with officials.
In a three-point statement, Stan Lai (賴聲川), who reportedly has close connections with the pan-blue camp and who had pledged to explain his position after the Jan. 14 elections, also said he did not accept the full NT$215 million (US$7.15 million) budget for making the musical.
He said the Performance Workshop, which he co-founded and directs, was awarded just one of 13 independent projects that the government had sourced through open bidding.
Meanwhile, Emile Sheng (盛治仁), former Council of Cultural Affairs minister who stepped down late last year because of the controversy surrounding the musical and other Republic of China centennial celebration events, said he believes an investigation by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office will prove him innocent of any wrongdoing in connection with awarding the contract to Lai.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) politicians and some people in arts circles have complained that the government spent too much money on the musical, but the government said the expensive production was completely above board.
Controversy over the show was aroused by DPP caucus whip Tsai Huang-liang’s (蔡煌瑯) allegations in November last year that the government had limited the number of eligible bidders for the Dreamers production, which ran for just two nights at a cost of more than NT$215 million.
“Such a policy [of limitation] reeks of collusion,” Tsai said, adding that people in the performing arts business were dismayed that the two-day presentation had cost taxpayers such a huge sum.
He also accused the council of evading legislative supervision by allowing many of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) personal friends to win centennial celebration contracts that were supposed to have been awarded through open bidding.
At the time, Sheng claimed that the bidding process was open and transparent and that there was absolutely no possibility of collusion.
Sheng later sent what he said were all documents and files pertaining to Dreamers to investigators, who will determine whether there were any irregularities.
As the controversy heated up, Lai urged the public to appreciate the contributions of all the artists who were involved in the production and the performance, rather than being distracted by the squabble over the show’s budget.
Commenting on Lai’s press conference, Tsai said he wondered why Sheng resigned if there had been nothing wrong with the way Dreamers was handled.
“There must have been something fishy,” he said, adding that now, since the case is in the hands of the prosecutors, it will be up to the judiciary to decide whether there were any irregularities involved in the Dreamers show.
Meanwhile, Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office spokesman Huang Mo-hsin (黃謀信) said prosecutors have opened an investigation into the show and that the prosecutors would proceed according to procedure and not be influenced by politics.
Additional reporting by Rich Chang