Visual artists, curators and other art-related professionals yesterday criticized the Ministry of Culture for omitting the subject of visual art from an ongoing series of national forums on the nation’s cultural development.
Failing to incorporate visual art into the discussion, they said, shows that the government’s attitude toward the development of the cultural and creative industries is market-driven.
Organized by Art Emperor, an art agency that operates an online art network and auction house, the meeting was intended to let artists and art workers voice opinions on the industry’s development. Opinions and suggestions collected at the meeting will be delivered to the ministry next week.
Participants said they decided to protest not because they want to make a fuss, but because they feel visual artists have been neglected for too long.
“The government shouldn’t just support those who can make profits or have potential to make profits. Visual art is a source of creativity and originality. It is a foundation and should be valued,” said Luo Li-chen (駱麗真), a council member of the Association of the Visual Arts in Taiwan (AVAT).
Taso Yu-wei (曹育維), chairman of the artists trade union in Taipei, echoed Luo’s opinon.
“To support cultural and creative industries without paying attention to arts is like trying to develop science without mathematics,” Tsao said. “We welcome [the government’s] policies to promote the cultural and creative industries, but the question is about where the policies lead us — to make money or foster our cultural strength for the next 10 or 100 years?”
Tsao also pointed out that the financial stress that most artists face forces them to spend more time working odd jobs than on their art.
“No one will pay attention to an artist unless he or she is famous. Artists can’t earn the amount of money they deserve, so they have to work part-time to support themselves, but soon the part-time job becomes their only job,” Tsao added.
Young artist Huang Po-hsun (黃柏勳), who attended the meeting, said he is proud to be an artist, but since graduating from college, it has been “tough.” To make ends meet, Huang has worked as a painter and decorator.
Apart from artists, art administrators also receive little attention and most of them are seriously underpaid, according to curator Sean Hu (胡朝聖), who is also AVAT chairman.
“There are very little resources. Young curators rarely have opportunities to go abroad, visit international exhibitions, learn and share ideas,” Hu said. “So, if you ask me, what is lacking in the visual art industry, I will say, ‘Everything.’”
To artist and art professor Yao Jui-chung (姚瑞中), one of the major problems is that there is a severe lack of specialized museums that serve to support individual disciplines such as photography and architecture.
The government should establish such museums, rather than spending money on “commerce or policy-oriented cultural parks,” Yao said.
“Whenever curators from other countries ask me to introduce them to Taiwanese artists and art, I have a hard time figuring out where to take them,” Yao said. “The Taipei Fine Arts Museum is full of works by Chinese artists and I can’t take them to cultural parks.”
Yao also pointed out the lack of places where young artists can exhibit their work.
“My students can’t find places to show their work. For example, it costs NT$28,000 a day at Huashan 1914 Creative Park,” Yao said. “How can they further their careers if they are unable to show their art?”