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August 23, 2017

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Ministry lacks central theme to bring culture to the people

The newly established Ministry of Culture has drawn wide attention from the public. Everyone — especially artists in Taiwan — is watching closely to see what Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai (龍應台), a renowned writer and critic, can provide.

While expectations are high, an article written by Lung about the future of the ministry prompted criticism that she lacked concrete policies.

Although the minister did set major goals for the ministry, it is clear that her thoughts are still not well-organized. Taking an economic perspective may help the minister to think more clearly about the role of her new ministry.

To promote Taiwanese culture, the minister should first think of the prosperity of related sectors, such as the movie industry. When related industries thrive, talented artists can make a living by focusing on their gifts, even without help from the government.

For every industry, there has to be enough infrastructures for business to thrive, and the government often provides this when society alone cannot.

This is the function the new ministry should aim to enable. Artists must have stages on which they can perform. In Taiwan, however, there are large stadiums for artists to hold extravagant concerts and shows, but there are no medium-sized theaters. Artists have to gather enough performers and funds to stage a show.

In addition, their shows have to be well publicized for them to turn a profit, which enables them to perform more. This is extremely difficult for young artists and small groups.

Furthermore, large performances can only last for a few days, which makes it difficult for a new group to establish an audience. Building more medium-sized theaters can allow artists and small groups a lower threshold to make their names known to the general public.

Lung said she would try to help young artists find sponsors and market their works. To ensure there is a platform for talented start-up artists to showcase their gifts would be a way to start.

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