Featured Reports


2011 Huashan Living Arts Festival

An Emerging Platform for Asian Performing Artists
By Performing Arts Alliance

The “Performing Arts Market” was one of the highlights in the second Huashan Living Arts Festival closed on October 10. Twenty-two international curators from Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Beijing, South Korea, Japan, Holland, Israel, France, Belgium, Canada and the United States were invited to the event, along with about 150 curator representatives from Taiwan’s government and NGOs. The Performing Arts Market featured fabulous showcase programs in the form of dance, puppetry, Chinese performing arts and modern drama, as well as choral and percussion music. As a display of the strength and diversity of Taiwan’s performing arts, these programs allowed the curators from Taiwan and abroad to experience Taiwan’s exceptional creativity and artistic depth.
Performing Arts Market: A Gateway to the International Performing Arts Market
Artists have the ability to shape the character of a city through their artistic vision, and art festivals organized by professional curators or art directors further create rich cultural and economic values for a city (photo 1). Performing arts are always performed live, therefore, it is always preferred to experience a work in person in order to fully capture its tension and depth. When an artist is able to exchange ideas with the curator from intellectual and emotional perspectives, the encounter between the two will give rise to an outstanding work which focuses public attention.

However, how can artists and their work get connected with the right person? With far-reaching modern information technology, is it possible that we can facilitate such connections through internet tools like YouTube and Google?

The International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA, with 63 events so far) and the CINARS (founded in 1984) are the two most acclaimed performing arts markets in the world. Through art events and other kinds of efforts, the ISPA and CINARS have become not only a major art market facilitator but also a connecting point bringing together performing artists and organizations from around the world, making their events an international occasion foregrounding the artistic landscape of each host city. In Asia, large cities have also been active in holding performing arts markets, such as the Tokyo Performing Arts Market (founded in 1995, moved to Yokohama and renamed as TPAM in Yokohama in 2011), the China Shanghai International Arts Festival Performing Arts Fair (founded in 1999), and the Performing Arts Market in Seoul (founded in 2003), etc. Events like these not only successfully introduce the performing artists and troupes to the public but also increase their international visibility and prominence.
First Encounter between the Artist and Buyer

Taiwan’s Council for Cultural Affairs, Executive Yuan, founded the Huashan Living Arts Festival at the Huashan Creative Park in 2010. The festival is the first performing arts event in Taiwan held regularly and in the same host site. With diversified programs, the festival serves as an efficient medium for Taiwan’s performing art troupes to expand their international market. As the nearly 90,000 participations recorded at the first event shows, the performing arts are becoming a new leisure option for people in the Taipei area. A domestic market is taking shape and Taipei is being transformed into a city with new attractions and style. With Huashan Creative Park as the home base for the performing arts industry, the last two events of the Huashan Living Arts Festival highlighted the “Performing Arts Market” in the hope of developing Taiwan’s own marketing platform. Art directors, curators or producers from art festivals around the world were invited to experience Taiwan’s performing arts in person and refresh their understanding of the scenario and characteristics of Taiwan’s performing arts. In addition to attending showcase programs, the representatives from government departments, NGOs and businesses were invited to attend the “Curator’s Panel” to discuss related issues with professionals and international curators. This year’s panel operated on three tracks: “Venues,” “Art Festivals,” and “Communities.” Curators from Chang Kai-shek Cultural Center, Guangzhou Theatre, Festival/Tokyo, Seoul International Dance Festival, Hong Kong Arts Festival, Taipei Arts Festival, Beijing’s Penghao Theatre and Yilan International Children's Folklore & Folkgame Festival were invited to share their curating strategies, practices and achievements. The discussion provided valuable information for future performing arts projects and events in Taiwan.

“Curator’s Panel”—Art Festivals Track

Panelists (from left to right): Wang Wen-yi (Executive Director, Taipei Arts Festival), Liang Wei-ran (Assistant Program Manager, Hong Kong Arts Festival), Natsuko Tsuji (Marketing & International Development Manager, Festival/Tokyo), Lee Jong-Ho (Art Director, Seoul International Dance Festival), Li Hui-mei (Marketing Manager, Chai Kai-shek Cultural Center)

As the first performing arts market in Taiwan, the Performing Arts Festival expanded its scope this year. Twelve-two international curators from China (Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong), South Korea, Japan, Holland, Israel, France, Belgium, Canada and America gathered at the event. In order to give a comprehensive sketch of Taiwan’s arts and culture in a limited time, the event focused on Performing Arts Showcase, accompanied with other arrangements according to the field and needs of the curators, like guided tours to arts venues, visits to unused spaces, rehearsals and performances. The Performing Arts Showcase lasted for three days at the newly-renovated Red Brick Area with performing arts troupes showcasing scenes clipped from their works. A discussion corner was set up in front of the theatre with marketing artworks for curators on display. Drinks and snacks further helped create an amiable, relaxing atmosphere for the buyer (curator) and seller (performing arts troupe) to discuss and exchange ideas with each other. The arrangement allowed a quick understanding of each other’s background and needs, and the performing arts troupes could also make a sound judgment when facing different curators. Presenting works with appropriate scale and type also helped close a deal. An opening cocktail party was held on the first day of the Showcase to allow free exchange of ideas and to stimulate international cooperation. It also provided more opportunities for Taiwan’s performing arts troupes to build their international connections.

A scene at the Performing Arts Exchange

Currently it is a popular idea for festivals, theatres or performing arts markets to introduce programs around the host country or city, and it has become a mainstream in art curating to showcase unique features of the host country’s performing arts. Liu Han-yuan, the production manager of Guangzhou Theatre, attended the event for the arts festivals to be curated in Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Macaw and Taiwan. Kyo Choi, the creative producer of ASIA NOW, looked for the opportunity to connect artists in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea for the “Artists Exchange Program.” Natsuko Tsuji, the marketing and international development manager of Festival/Tokyo, attended the event to promote Festival/Tokyo’s “Emerging Artists Program” and to find new talents who could present their works at Festival/Tokyo. Being attracted to the style and diversity of Taiwan’s performing arts, Beijing Penhao Theatre planned to hold an art festival on Taiwan. Eli Grunfeld, the art director of The International Spring Festival of Israel, planned to visit South Korea, Japan and China during his travel to Asia. It was also his first time to Taiwan. Being highly interested in the art of Taiwan’s aboriginal as well as ethnic music and dance, he hoped to introduce the works at the festival.

A scene at the Performing Arts Exchange

Making Taiwan the Exporter of Asian Performing Arts
Taiwan boasts a solid strength in creative performing arts thanks to its rich traditional cultural heritage and avant-garde creativity. Among other Chinese regions and even Asian countries, Taiwan undoubtedly shows an ability to hold a long-term arts market. However, we have to admit that running a performing arts market requires a healthy operation and continuous support in various aspects. How to offer substantial support to performing arts troupes and stimulate their creativity? How to find a suitable venue as the platform to facilitate deals? These are the issues or difficulties we need to seriously consider and overcome. In addition to establishing Taiwan’s own arts market, we also need to engage more in art festivals and markets around the world to network with international performing artists and enhance our visibility. Only through face-to-face contact can we attract more professionals to attend the performing arts market in Taiwan, ultimately making Taiwan the most important performing arts showcase and market in Asia.
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