Fri, Apr 14, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Ministry’s ban on playwright’s return isolationist: artists

By Huang Pang-ping and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Artists and performance groups said a three-year Ministry of Labor ban on Polish playwright Michal Walczak returning to Taiwan is a form of “cultural isolationism.”

The Theater Naturally Connected troupe invited Walczak to visit in February to discuss playwriting techniques at an event, the group said.

The Taipei Bureau of Labor issued a fine over the event, while Walczak was banned from returning to the nation for not having a work permit, the group added.

However, Walczak’s lack of a permit was not for want of trying, Theater Naturally Connected said, adding that it filed an application for an arts and performances work permit, which the ministry called incorrect, as the “playwright is not performing.”

The group said it was told by the ministry to apply for a professional or technical job work permit, which requires applicant organizations to have NT$5 million (US$164,880) in capital and an annual claimed income of more than NT$10 million.

As it is a small group, it would not be able to meet such requirements, Theater Naturally Connected said, adding that it decided to continue with the event, which was subsidized by the Taipei City Government.

Walczak’s failure to secure a work permit resulted in the bureau’s fine, it added.

The Ministry of Culture on Tuesday said that it and the Ministry of Labor had agreed to relax regulations on foreign artists and performers, saying that, following negotiations, the group’s workshop would be considered an arts event.

The ministries have facilitated an application by Assign Theater to invite a South Korean director to speak about stage design, it added.

The Ministry of Culture said it would hold a series of consultation meetings starting this week to answer questions from groups on filing applications to invite foreign artists and performers, adding that it would gather opinions at the hearings that would be consulted when negotiating with the Ministry of Labor on policies and regulations.

Minister of Labor Lin Mei-chu (林美珠) on Wednesday said that the ministry is the only channel for foreign specialists or professionals to apply for a work permit, adding that she would task it with drawing up plans to return such applications to the correct organizations.

Additional reporting by CNA

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