Forty villages nationwide have received subsidies this year under a government program to transform their senior populations into cultural resources, Ministry of Culture officials said yesterday.
The pilot program, launched by the ministry at the beginning of the year, offers counseling and financial support to help seniors in villages learn about the preservation and promotion of local arts, crafts, culture and history and pass on the information to the younger generations.
“With globalization and urbanization, many young people are moving to cities, heightening the role of senior citizens in fostering community awareness,” Department of General Planning Director Lee Lien-chuan (李連權) said.
Government statistics show that the number of citizens aged 65 and up has increased from 4.7 percent of the total population in 1983 to 10.9 percent in 2011. That number is expected to reach 39.4 percent by 2060.
Since taking the helm of the ministry last year, Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) has called this large retired population a cultural asset that her ministry hopes to utilize to promote arts and culture in remote villages.
The 40 communities, including 13 Aboriginal communities, will receive a total of NT$3.4 million (US$114,700) from the ministry this year, Lee said.
He urged cultural foundations and companies to join the initiative and “adopt” communities under the program. The ministry has matched four companies with communities so far, he said.
Huang Li-ching (黃麗卿), who owns a breakfast shop in Chiayi County’s Shuishang Township (水上), said more than 40 people aged between 50 and 70 in her village recently formed a folk dance troupe under the pilot program.
“There are both men and women in the troupe. The relationship among the villagers has improved greatly and we are now like a family,” Huang said, adding that she is looking forward to performing in public soon.
The troupe performs the type of folk dances often seen at temple ceremonies.