Czech academic Taoa Drahoslava and French institute Maison des Cultures du Monde each received awards earlier this week honoring their contributions toward enhancing cultural exchanges between Taiwan and Europe.
The French-Taiwanese Cultural Foundation Award will draw greater attention to Taiwan-related studies in Central and Eastern Europe, said Drahoslava, an associate professor of sinology at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, who was honored for her efforts in promoting Taiwan studies.
Speaking at the award ceremony on Monday, Drahoslava said she would donate the prize money to fund Taiwan students and help expand the collection of Taiwan-related titles at her university’s library. She added that she is planning to hold an international seminar on Taiwanese literature at her university later this autumn.
Arwad Esber, curator of the French institute, said the award was a great encouragement in the fight to preserve cultural diversity and protect intangible cultural heritage. The institute, which has hosted more than 11 exhibitions on Taiwanese art in the last four years, will hold an arts festival in 2014 that will introduce Taiwanese opera to France, Esber said, describing the art form as a colorful and highly symbolic form of traditional drama in Taiwan.
She added that opera is a popular art form endowed with cultural depth and so is a perfect example of tradition progressing through time without losing its original color.
The award ceremony, which took place at the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences under the Institut de France in Paris, was hosted by Deputy Culture Minister Chang Yun-cheng (張雲程) and the academy’s perpetual secretary Xavier Darcos. Chang said the cultural award has encouraged numerous people to promote cultural exchanges over the past 16 years and will continue to draw people from Europe to work on creating exchanges with Taiwan.
Chang was welcomed in Mandarin by academy chairwoman Marianne Bastid-Bruguiere. Bruguiere was the first chairperson since the founding of the award to give a speech entirely in Mandarin. Darcos said that Taiwan was virtually unknown to the French literati in 1996, but the award has greatly lifted the country’s profile in Europe.
The award was set up by the predecessor of Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture — the Council for Cultural Affairs — and the French academy in 1996. Two prizes are given each year to encourage Taiwan-French cultural exchanges. The award was expanded in 2008 in order to honor individuals from other European countries.