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Wed, Jul 04, 2001 - Page 4 News List

Art group wants museum plan halted

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

A view from inside Taipei's Institute of Contemporary Art. The institute is scheduled to become a city-owned, privately-run museum if the art group protesting the move fails to halt the change-over plans.

PHOTO: CHEN CHENG-CHANG, TAIPEI TIMES

Representatives of an arts group yesterday voiced their opposition to a Taipei City Bureau of Cultural Affairs plan to make the Institute of Contemporary Art (當代藝術館) a city-owned, privately-run museum.

"Given the fact that contemporary art has not yet gained general approval in Taiwan, the running of a gallery featuring contemporary art is definitely not a profitable business," said Marvin Minto Fang (范姜明道), chairperson of the Association of the Visual Arts in Taiwan.

"We want to avoid a situation where private managers abandon the management of the gallery halfway through, or trade its aim of art development for financial gains -- after they realize the fact [that it is not a lucrative business]. We therefore suggest that the city government assume full responsibility for the management of the Institution of Contemporary Art."

The art association made its appeal to halt the proposal only two days before the deadline expires for the filing of bid applications by parties interested in taking over management of the institute.

The management of the newly launched contemporary museum had been a much-discussed issue long before it was opened. The arguments continued after it was opened on May 26 as the management of the museum still remains to be chosen. The museum is in the former Taipei City Hall near the intersection of Changan West Road and Chungshan North Road.

A collection of contemporary art is presently on display at the museum and is being sponsored by the Acer Group (宏集團). The sponsorship cost the company NT$5 million.

According to Chang Yun-cheng (張雲程), secretary general of the cultural affairs bureau, authorities aim to encourage the private sector to join the cause of promoting art by giving them an opportunity to run the museum.

By doing so, he said, the bureau also seeks to relieve itself of some of the financial pressures caused by trying to run many museums. Moreover, he added, compared to city government management, private management will be relatively free of red-tape constraints.

But veteran art administrators disagreed.

The Taiwan Museum of Art's former director, Ni Tsai-chin (倪再沁), now the chairman of the department of the fine arts of Tunghai University, said the art group's arguments must be taken into consideration.

He said that although the proposal for private management may be a common practice overseas, it would not be an ideal solution when placed in Taiwanese context.

"Unlike private enterprises overseas, it is not common for private capital in Taiwan to financially support the development of art, knowing that they will lose money.

"Under this presumption, most people who will be interested in the museum will try to make a profit out of it. The quality of art would very likely be spoiled if interests collide," he said.

"Although we don't agree with the government intervening in the development of art, there are some exceptions. For example, to protect traditional art and to promote contemporary art, the government has to actively pursue these strenuous and non-profitable tasks, something private enterprises can not be relied upon to do."

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