City councilor pans art subsidies

NO RULES::Taipei is giving millions to public art projects, a DPP councilor said, but there are no regulations and some of the art pieces are on display for only a few days

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Nov 30, 2012 - Page 3

A Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilor yesterday accused the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs of lavishing money on subsidizing public art projects without having any regulations in place and urged the department to facilitate subsidy regulations for public art displays.

The department listed an annual budget of more than NT$10 million (US$340,000) to subsidize public art displays. However, most of the art pieces were on display for only about 12 days, which made it difficult for most of the public to see and appreciate the art, DPP Taipei City Councilor Ho Chih-wei (何志偉) said.

According to information provided by the department, the city has given more than NT$85 million in subsidies to 27 public art projects since 2008. Of the total of 241 public art pieces from the 27 projects, 235 were on temporary display and were removed after a short period of time, which ranged from 12 days to six months.

“If the budget is used as a subsidy for permanent public art pieces, Taipei could have more art boulevards, public art parks or art squares. However, the short-lived public art displays leave Taipei residents with little opportunity to enjoy the art,” Ho told a press conference at the Taipei City Council.

Ho further accused the city government of favoring the Taipei Cultural Foundation — a local organization partly sponsored by the city government — and of giving the foundation about NT$18 million in subsidies over the past four years for public art projects that lacked legal regulations.

For example, a public art exhibition on display in 2009 as a highlight of the Taipei Art Festival called Slow Dancing, which featured short video images of 50 famous performance artists at Taipei Zhongshan Hall Corridor, received a subsidy of NT$3.3 million from the department and the exhibition lasted only 13 days, he said.

Subsidies have also been given without a legal basis, as the department only started drafting regulations on subsidies for public art projects earlier this year, Ho said.

Lee Wei-ti (李威蒂), a divisional head at the department, said that the department had followed the central government’s regulations on subsidies for public art projects when approving applications and giving subsidies, but promised to complete the drafting of regulations and to send the draft to the city council by next year.

She defended the city’s subsidized public art projects for promoting arts and culture by highlighting successful cases, including the Treasure Hill public art exhibition and the Very Fun Park (粉樂町) project, and said the department has also funded permanent public art installations over the years.