Fri, Feb 15, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Culture chief vows to push bill to help performing groups

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Council of Cultural Affairs (CCA) chairman Wang Tuoh (王拓) yesterday promised to push for an increase in arts funding as well as a disaster support bill for artists and performing groups after meeting Cloud Gate Dance Theatre (雲門舞集) founder Lin Hwai-min (林懷民).

"After Cloud Gate's rehearsal studio was destroyed in the recent fire, we've been rethinking our cultural policy," Wang told a news conference at the legislature yesterday.

"Right now we only have regulations to help individual artists in need, but nothing for groups affected by disaster," Wang said. "We will put together a draft bill that will help artists and performing groups in need."

The dance troupe's studio in Bali Township (八里), Taipei County, was ravished by fire on Monday. A major part of the building -- including props, costumes, scenery and office equipment -- was reduced to ashes.

In the days since the fire, the government has come under criticism for not providing enough support to performing groups such as Cloud Gate.

Lin was among the critics.

"The budget for [more than 60] performing arts groups was only NT$120 million [US$3.7 million] between 2001 and 2007 -- and it was cut by NT$20 million this year," Lin told Wang during their meeting at the council earlier yesterday morning. "That just does not leave enough."

Lin said the budget should be increased to NT$500 million.

Wang agreed that the budget was insufficient and promised to request a beefed-up budget for the next fiscal year.

"The total central government budget this year is NT$1.68 trillion. Of that, just 1.34 percent has been set aside for culture-related uses, and the CCA received only 0.36 percent," Wang said. "We'd like to increase the culture-related budget to between 3 percent and 4 percent, and the CCA budget to between 1.5 percent and 2 percent in the next fiscal year."

Wang promised to allow performing arts groups to use idle real estate owned by the government and to let Cloud Gate use the Taiwan Human Rights Jingmei Park (台灣人權景美園區) as a temporary rehearsal studio.

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