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Tue, May 23, 2000 - Page 2 News List

New cultural chief has far-reaching plans for council

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

New chairwoman of the Council for Cultural Affairs, Tchen Yu-hsiu (陳郁秀), said yesterday that one of her major goals is to bring the entire spectrum of Taiwan's rich culture to the international stage.

Tchen, who previously held the deanship of the college of fine and applied arts at National Taiwan Normal University, held a press conference yesterday morning to outline her plans as head of the cultural affairs council.

Tchen described what she saw as indispensable elements within the category of Taiwanese culture. "I think that so-called `Taiwanese culture' should embrace Aboriginal culture, Chinese culture, Japanese culture as well as a global culture," she said.

Recognizing that political constraints have long suppressed some locally rooted cultural activities, Tchen said that it is time for the council to foster a cultural renaissance.

She said a broader insight was needed when discussing indigenous culture, and that "we should respect the pluralistic elements involved under this big umbrella and assimilate these cultural elements before bringing our culture to the international stage."

Tchen also expressed her desire to raise the status of the cultural affairs council to that of a ministry-level body, but did not mention any formal timetable for such a reform.

But to set up a cultural affairs ministry from scratch would require the coordination of both the administrative and legislative branches of government, she said. Public consensus on the need to set up such a ministry and people's expectations of its functions should be assets for the council to push for the initiative, she said.

Figures from cultural circles say they are thirsting for a cultural affairs ministry. "All of us are looking forward to the establishment of a cultural affairs ministry," said Lo Man-fei (羅曼菲), artistic director of Cloud Gate, a renowned dance troupe.

Raising the level of the council to the ministry would help ease constraints the council currently faces, Lo said.

"Then cultural affairs would be under one umbrella. The current situation is that cultural affairs are spread across different governmental institutions -- such as the Ministry of Education and the Government Information Office. Everything is very chaotic, culminating in a huge waste of resources," she said.

Tchen said that correcting the concept of "instant culture" in Taiwan is another priority to tackle. Echoing what President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said in his inauguration address, Tchen said "cultural development is not something that brings immediate success. Rather, it must be accumulated bit by bit."

Tchen has devoted her life to bringing concerts to the more remote areas of Taiwan and to preserving Taiwan's musical history.

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