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September 24, 2017

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Culture Ministry urged to safeguard indie music live houses

Over 200 members of famous local music bands and fans yesterday held a press conference at the Legislative Yuan, calling on the government to improve an unfriendly regulations and environment plaguing the operation of live houses for local indie bands.

They issued the call one week before the scheduled closure of the Underworld (地下社會), a famous live house located in the Shida Night Market area. The Underworld, a cradle of indie music in Taiwan and one of the most prestigious live venues for rock music, will officially terminate after 16 years of operation on July 15 as a result of being frequently fined or forced to suspend performances that are beyond its registered business items.

Ho Tong-hung, spokesman of the Underworld, said at the press conference that the Underworld has long enjoyed good business, but will be forced to close its doors by the unfriendly regulations and environment.

Ho said that there exists no regulation exclusively governing the operations of live houses, making them subject to outdated rules and regulations involving different government units. As a result, it's quite difficult for live houses to maintain viable operations, Ho added.

Some members of famous music bands such as Mayday (五月天), Chairman (董事長), the backQuarter (四分衛) and the Clippers (夾子) appeared at the venue to show their support for the Underworld. They called on Lung Ying-tai (龍應台), minister of culture, to do something to generate an environment favorable to sustainable operations of live houses.

Among the participants were Mayday's lead guitarist Monster (怪獸) and bassist Masa (瑪莎), and The Clippers' lead singer Hsiao Ying (小應), and Gin Oy (歐陽靖), a famous writer and actress. They asked the government not to make musical and cultural creativeness turn into hollow slogans from soft power.

For her part, Gin Oy said she's proud of being a Taiwanese mainly because of Taiwan's independent music, stressing that the government should highlight Taiwan's independent music in promoting cultural creativeness. "If the government fails to support independent music, the government shouldn't talk any more about the development of the creative cultural industry," she said.

Mayday's Masa said after the press conference that operators of live houses didn't want to ask for financial support from the government, but to request the amendment of related regulations to allow more room for viable operations.

In response, officials of the Ministry of Culture said that the core problem facing operators of live houses is that they must boost their recognition by the general public and related government units. They added that the Ministry of Culture will move to seek solutions to the shortage of land space for live houses.

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