Performing artists, academics and professionals yesterday urged the government at a forum held by the Ministry of Culture in Taipei to make national subsidies for performing art groups more flexible so as to accommodate artists’ diverse needs.
ROC Performing Arts Association General Secretary Yu Kuo-hua (于國華) said even though the ministry issues an annual subsidy of about NT$100 million (US$3.3 million) to a range of performance groups, the regulations are too rigid to properly meet all artists’ interests and needs.
“There are groups that focus on international exchanges, some that specialize in arts preservation and some dedicated to education. There is great diversity, but the subsidy system is not open enough to recognize this diversity,” Yu added. “Also, the subsidy can only be given to groups, but we all know that, in the performing arts circle, individual artists are the majority.”
Hsu Ya-hsiang (徐亞湘), a professor at the Chinese Culture University’s Department of Theatre Arts, suggested that national subsidies for traditional performing arts groups should focus on creative, small troupes while financially established companies can be supported with low-interest loans.
“National subsidies [for traditional performing arts] are mostly indistinguishable from the funds bestowed by local governments,” Hsu said. “The ministry needs to figure out what it wants to encourage and foster first. Otherwise, the money is merely used by groups as another source of income.”
Concurring with Hsu’s opinion on investing in rather than funding established groups, Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) said that performing arts groups are seen as part of national culture and creative industries, and the more financially viable companies can attract venture capital firms.
“In practice, however, we still need to establish a communication platform to act as a bridge between the two parts,” she said.
However, former Council for Cultural Affairs chairwoman Tchen Yu-chiou (陳郁秀) held a completely opposing view on the matter.
“To apply the investment mentality to performing arts is highly inappropriate. It’s not common practice around the world, except for massive undertakings like Cirque du Soleil,” Tchen said. “Performing arts have their own distinctive features and ways of living. If a group earns an international reputation like Cloud Gate, it will also have a market.”