Council of Cultural Affairs (CCA) Minister Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) says she looks forward to seeing an increase in the government budget for arts and cultural activities.
“I’m having trouble in performing my duty given the limited budget,” Lung said while visiting the headquarters of the financially troubled U-Theatre (優人神鼓) in Taipei’s Muzha District (木柵) on Thursday.
Lung’s visit came one day after Liu Ruo-yu (劉若瑀), U-Theatre’s founder and artistic director, said the troupe will suspend creation of any new work for three years due to its operational problems and her health problems. The troupe will also not apply for government financial aid for three years, starting next year, Liu added.
“During this period, we’ll only accept invitations for paid performances at home and abroad and continue our teaching programs,” Liu said.
In order to be eligible for annual grants or subsidies from the Council for Cultural Affairs, performing arts groups must present a new creative project each year.
The 24-year-old U-Theatre, one of the nation’s most prestigious arts ensembles, received NT$5.75 million (US$196,200) in subsidies from the council last year.
However, since the group is struggling for survival right now, it cannot afford to concentrate its energy on creating new works, Liu said.
Lung said U-Theatre’s plight highlights flaws in the cultural subsidy system and the limited budget for arts and culture.
Lung, who assumed her post in February, said she would work to develop a feasible mechanism to facilitate private investment and resources into arts and cultural activities after the council becomes a ministry on May 20. The council will encourage performing arts groups to develop professional administrative, marketing and fund-raising systems to ensure their smooth operations and maintain their creative edge.
According to Lung, the council had a budget of about NT$360 million to subsidize performing arts groups and cultural activities last year.