Thu, Oct 05, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Artists hit the streets to reach a wider audience

LEGALLY SANCTIONED A total of 347 street artists have acquired permits to perform on the streets of Taipei City since a regulation was originally adopted three years ago

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Street artist Wang Chin-fa plays the saw in front of Taipei City's Longshan Temple yesterday as part of a campaign by the city's Department of Cultural Affairs to promote a street artists festival that will be held at Warner Village Plaza this weekend and next.

PHOTO: FANG PIN-CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Street artist Wang Chin-fa (汪進發) regularly plays the saw in front of Taipei City's Longshan Temple (龍山寺), attracting both local residents and foreign tourists who are intrigued by his performances and his special "music instrument."

Wang, who has been playing the saw since he was 16, said there are currently less than 100 saw players in Taiwan, and his 30 years of performing experience had earned him recognition as one of the country's greatest folk artists.

Last year, Wang passed a review by the street artists committee of the Taipei City Department of Cultural Affairs and was granted a permit to perform in the street.

"Like me, there are many street artists who have unique skills. Our artistic talents should be recognized and cherished," Wang said.

A total of 347 street artists like Wang have acquired permits since the department promulgated the Provisions for the Permission of Arts Activities by Street Artists in Taipei City in 2003, which allowed qualified artists to perform under police protection in public areas approved by the department.

"The permit system protects rights of street artists, encourages the development of artistic activities in Taipei and cultivates people's generosity [to donate to street artists]," Department Commissioner Sebastian Liao (廖咸浩) said yesterday during a press conference at Taipei City Hall.

Liao said that many people in Taiwan have stereotypes about street artists, categorizing them as down-and-out performers who wander around streets.

But many street artists have regular jobs and perform in public spaces in order to get closer to their audience.

Liang Chi-hsin (梁志新), a part-time singer who only performs during weekends in MRT underground malls, said playing the guitar and singing are his greatest source of satisfaction outside work.

"I love performing and sharing my passion with strangers. Making money is not my major concern," he said.

Three years after the certification of street artists began, Liao said the department hopes to turn Taipei into a city where residents can enjoy artistic activities such as musical performances, magic shows and paintings not only in museums or performing centers, but also on the street.

While recognizing the department's efforts to find proper locations for street performance, Wang suggested the department should open more public spaces for artists to show their talents.

"The department should not set too many limits. It should allow artists to share their performances with a wider audience," he said.

Most of the locations approved by the department included MRT underground malls, municipal parks and popular tourist attractions such as temples.

The department will invite more than 100 street artists to perform in the Warner Village Plaza this weekend and next.

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