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July 25, 2017

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Artists cite investment-culture clash

TAIPEI--The government should not let Taiwan's cultural development be influenced by profit-driven investors, local artists said at a national forum in Taipei.

"I hope we can clarify what 'culture' is, so that economic benefits and profit issues will not influence cultural work," film director Wang Sau-di said at the forum being held to seek consensus on Taiwan's cultural policies.

The investment of venture capital companies in the cultural and creative sector is still done in a "rough" way and companies are unable to find good investment targets in the sector because of a lack of dialogue and understanding, she said at the event, which was attended by a hall full of people including Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai.

For example, Wang said, many venture capital companies are unaware that Taiwan's talent-filled theater business has good opportunities in the ethnic Chinese market, as more people like to watch live performances these days.

Hung Hung, a theater director and one of the initiators of a signature campaign to push for cultural policy reform, said cultural and creative industry affairs should be handled by the Ministry of Economic Affairs instead of the Ministry of Culture.

The Ministry of Culture should not be spending its energy helping venture capital companies while artists are finding it hard to make ends meet, he said.

In response, Lung said the same problems may arise even in a different ministry and it is not inappropriate for her ministry to handle the affairs.

Speaking on behalf of investors, industry representatives said they actually care more about the government's policy and strategies for the cultural and creative industry than its funding.

Also at the forum, artists and a legislator questioned the Ministry of Culture over its NT$10 billion (US$334 million) investment project to promote cultural and creative industries, saying that it dwarfs the subsidies provided to the art sector.

In response, Lien Yu-ping, head of the ministry's Department of Cultural and Creative Development, said the project was funded by the National Development Fund for investment purposes and could not have been used as subsidies.

Eight other national forums will be held over the next two months to discuss topics including the future of public media, film subsidiary policies and ways to build an international network for Taiwan's film, television and music industries.

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