Taiwan arts scene thrives in spite of Beijing isolation tactics – new venues draw more diverse audiences

The island’s arts scene is enjoying something of a renaissance, a slew of new spaces and troupes having been established to appeal to domestic and – it’s hoped – international crowds

South China Morning Post
Date: 9 Mar, 2019 
By: Enid Tsui

The National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts located on the site of the Weiwuying military base in the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung. Photo: Alamy

It will come as a surprise to many to learn that the world’s largest indoor performing arts venue is not in New York, London or Beijing, but Kaohsiung, the industrial city in southern Taiwan. Last October, the futuristic, 9.9-hectare National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts opened on the site once occupied by the Weiwuying military base. Within are four performance halls and an innovative out­door theatre that gives the impression it is sliding off a giant, undulating roof.

Weiwuying, as the centre in Taiwan’s third-largest city is known, took seven years to build, at a cost of more than NT$10 billion (US$324 million). One of the island’s first major performance venues outside Taipei, the facility was intended by then president Chen Shui-bian as a grand gesture in the rejuvenation of Taiwan’s poorer south, and to attract cultural activities away from the northern capital. It is just one of a slew of impressive venues that have been opening in what is proving to be a vibrant period for the island’s sophisticated arts scene. But it is a success story that is often drowned out by the drumbeat of nationalism heard across the Taiwan Strait: Chinese President Xi Jinping threatened, in a New Year speech, to take back the island by force if necessary after 70 years of separation.

The island’s contemporary art scene emerged in 1987, when nearly four decades of martial law ended and Taiwan diverged further politically from the mainland, embracing multi-party democracy and freedom of expression.    [FULL  STORY]

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