The Sanchong District Community College is taking its “Hollywood Year” event — which played old films and hosted seminars throughout last year — one step further this year and is calling on citizen journalists to help it conduct field studies and pass on the memories of the past to future generations.
According the college’s dean, Liu Shih-wei (劉世偉), Sanchong (三重), in New Taipei City (新北市), is the cradle of the nation’s record industry, having produced at least 70 percent of its gramophone records.
From the difficult start the industry had during the early 1950s up to the 1990s, more than 90 percent of the records produced in Taiwan came from Sanchong, Liu said
During the industry’s peak, there were more than 10 record companies along Kuangming Road in the district, he added.
Liu said that the concentration of record companies in the district inadvertently led to an increase of songwriters and lyricists, including Su Tong (蘇桐), Lee Li-han (李禮涵), Hung Yi-feng (洪一峰) and Yeh Chun-lin (葉俊麟).
Liu said that during the early days Taiwan relied on importing music and reproducing it with Taipei as the largest market.
It was easy to distribute the music after the records were produced because of the proximity of Sanchong to Taipei, Liu said.
With the advent of cassette tapes and CDs, records slowly died out, which caused the decline of the industry in Sanchong, he added.
A school affairs committee member at the college, Chang Ming-hsiang (張明祥), said that the burgeoning record industry also had an indirect affect on the development of humanities in the area.
Music, drama, literature and art flourished in tandem with the record industry, Chang said, adding that traditional Taiwanese opera as well as film and entertainment industries settled in the district.
According to the college’s arts department director Chang Wen-shen (張文詵), the early years in Sanchong were reminiscent of Hollywood.
Last year, the college held a series of seminars and forums in which academics were invited to explore the industry’s history and to watch old films.
Following last year’s success, the college is hoping people volunteer to be citizen journalists and interview elderly people who still remember the era, as well as conduct field research, Chang Wen-shen said.
One Sanchong resident named Lin Yung-mao (林永茂), who was born in 1967, said he was only somewhat familiar with the district’s history, while the younger generation have little to no knowledge of it.
“Schools in the district should incorporate these local cultural features into classes on local history,” Lin said.
Hsiao Wan-chieh (蕭婉婕), who was born in 1984, said she never knew that the district had such a rich cultural history.
However, Ministry of Culture official Tseng Chi-tien (曾繼田) said that the record industry did not meet the ministry’s criteria to be classified as a cultural asset in terms of the history of an industry’s development.