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Aiming for the Base of International Exchange in Greater China


Writer : Yoahen KIM _ Producer of Doosan Art Center 

Korea and Taiwan are alike. If a history of colonization and independence from 20th century imperialism, rapid formation of modern state, and the growth of the civil society are an universal experience in Asia, then Korea and Taiwan even shares a unique and exceptional experience that go beyond the label of 'division.' Taiwan is an important platform for the Korean Wave in Greater China. Taiwan was a temporary home for immigrants dreaming of their return to their homeland China in the midst of the land's great growth, but now Taiwan seeks to expand itself as the platform for the entry into Greater China while preserving its own unique and distinctive identity differentiated from the mainland. I looked at the activities of Performing Arts Alliance (PAA) in Taiwan and the issues related to the performing arts, which are in the center of such cultural changes.

Supporting Organizations That Connect the Policies and the Scene

The PAA had its beginning in The National Culture and Arts Foundation (NCAF). The NCAF is an organization that was established in 1996 in order to improve and change the support system of culture and arts, and the organization that was established to be in charge of its allocation of resources and funding is the PAA. 

One of the most important issues in Taiwan's culture and arts today is the change in The Council for Cultural Affairs (CCA). which was established in 1981. The committee is the top of the national institution for planning and overseeing cultural foundation and policy making, and it has been playing the key role in establishing and implementing policies. But, it is planned to be incorporated under the central government's Ministry of Culture according to the restructuring of the government in 2012. The people in the world of culture and arts are expecting the new Ministry of Culture and the relocating committee to show active leadership and influence on the major issues and crisis being faced in culture and arts. The PAA, which serves to connect the arts policies to the actual scene amidst such changes and expectations, are supporting the policies of the new Ministry of Culture and preparing to lead the change in Taiwan's performing arts.

The PAA, while receiving funding from the government and the private sector, is playing an important role as the key partner of the government and the arts scene in the evolution and prosperity of Taiwan's performing arts. In order to provide advanced information of the performing arts and to connect the performing groups to the government along with the communication with the public sector, the PAA is promoting projects that seeks to provide a forum for public policies, improve cultural and artistic environment, and develop channels, consulting, research, publishing, and educational programs for fostering talented creators and raising funds. The PAA was founded around experts in the performing arts such as performing artists, theater planners, professors, and performing arts administrators, and currently, it is being operated by the Chairman and 22 advisors, and 16 staff members including the Secretary-General. 

The PAA is operated as a membership organization, and its members consist of over 100 organizations and many other independent artists. The organizations include the areas of theatre, dance, music, and opera such as the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, one of the leading contemporary dance organizations in Asia; Ping Fong Acting Troupe, a representative contemporary theatre of Greater China with over 40 repertoires; and Dance Forum, showcasing innovative and diverse contemporary dance performances. The members can benefit from variety of projects promoted by the PAA. In addition, services such as consulting are provided to non-member organizations and artists. When looking at the content and function of the overall project, it has many similar aspects as the Korea Arts Management Service.


Cloud Gate Dance Theatre ©Cloud Gate Dance Foundation


“Curator’s Panel”—Art Festivals Track


The Base for International Exchange in Performances and Fostering Talents

Taiwan has a diverse and dynamic culture due to its vicissitudes of historical background. The mix of indigenous culture of the aboriginal Taiwanese, the Chinese culture from Chinese immigrants, and the colonial culture left behind by Netherlands and Japan have formed a unique culture in Taiwan. The recent rapid expansion of exchanges with the mainland China is inversely causing confusion in Taiwan's unique cultural identity. So, the necessity to preserve the identity and the uniqueness through culture, and embrace changes while aiming for open attitude toward new forms is growing along with the changes.

The PAA's projects are in connection with such cultural and social context. The project is not only aimed at the specialized performing arts organizations that are conducting 'Performing Arts Documentary Project' in order to preserve the important performing arts in Taiwan, but also preparing to expand the project into a research project aimed at the general public. In addition, in order to specialize in the support of Taiwan's specialization and systematization of the performing arts, the PAA is also promoting plans for educational programs for fostering professionals such as performing arts administrators and producers, and for establishing and operating performance halls as well. 

Along with various support projects for performing arts, the Huashan Living Arts Festival (HLAF) is being held. In order to expand the opportunities for international exchange and participation of the general public in performing arts, the HLAF is being sponsored by The Council for Cultural Affairs (CCA) and hosted by the PAA. The main programs include indoor and outdoor performances, workshops, showcases, and performing arts related exhibitions. The Taipei Huashan 1914ㆍCreative Park, where the HLAF is being held, is a park converted from such buildings as a brewing plant built in 1914 around a dense industrial area of the past. Here, where the oldest buildings in Taiwan are well preserved, the buildings have been revitalized through culture, and the location is playing the key role as the center for culture and arts in Taipei as various culture-related workshops, exhibitions, and arts festivals are held. 

In addition, the PAA has been progressing prepatory tasks since 2010 as it is Taiwan's strategic base for cultural exchange in Greater China with aims to establish a platform for international exchanges in performing arts. It is holding a market for performing arts to coincide with the HLAF in order to support performing arts groups' entry into overseas market. Also, the PAA is searching for collaborative partners at home and abroad in order to create new developments in performing arts through combining development, performances, and technology of repertory theatres, which were recently of interest by the government as well.

Huashan Living Arts Festival (HLAF)

Taiwan and Korea has been each other's role model because they have many social and cultural similarities but also differences. The social and cultural confusion and crisis being experienced in Taiwan is probably not unique only in Taiwan. This confusion is going to surface in Korea's society not much far off in the future in similar shape and form, and the confusion being experienced in Korea is going to show in Taiwan much the same way. It would seem that we should find the most sensible answers and measures to issues in the contemporary Asia, not from countries far away, but through cultural exchanges among the countries in Asia.


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