Amid calls for the preservation of Novel Hall, the Taipei City Government is setting up a task force to discuss measures aiming at keeping the theater in Xinyi District (信義).
The fate of Novel Hall has sparked concern from arts and cultural groups after Chinatrust Commercial Bank revealed its plan to move its headquarters, which houses the theater, to Nangang District (南港) and sell the land in Xinji, which is estimated to be worth about NT$25 billion (US$836 million).
The news prompted well-known artists, including Cloud Gate Dance Theatre founder Lin Hwai-min (林懷民) and author Kenneth Pai (白先勇), to urge the city government to keep the theater at its current location.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday instructed Taipei Deputy Mayor Chang Chin-oh (張金鶚) to set up an interdepartmental task force and find solutions to the theater’s possible relocation or demolishment.
“Novel Hall has become one of the best performance venues in Taipei City and is a cultural landmark. The city government hopes that any land sales will not affect the venue,” Hau said yesterday while presiding over a meeting at Taipei City Hall.
Hau said that the China Trust Financial Group had promised to provide part of the land housing its headquarters and the theater for performing arts and art exhibitions, on certain conditions. The group should keep its promise, he added.
Taipei City’s Department of Cultural Affairs said it would conduct a cultural asset evaluation of the theater and would participate in negotiations organized by the Council of Cultural Affairs to facilitate its preservation.
Novel Hall, established 16 years ago, underwent a multimillion dollar overhaul of its facilities in September last year. It is widely recognized as the best medium-size venue in the nation. Many city government-sponsored performances and events have been held there, as well as privately sponsored shows.
Taipei City Government spokesman Chang Chi-chiang (張其強) told reporters that the China Trust Financial Group said it had yet to determine whether to preserve the theater, and the city government would continue to communicate with the company about the issue.