Culture Minister Cheng Li-chiun hosted the 2017 Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention in Taichung on Dec. 23 to explore strategies for safeguarding Taiwan’s intangible cultural heritage.
Joined by experts, scholars, cultural heritage preservationists, private sector representatives, and cultural heritage administration personnel, the convention focused on three topics: “Intangible Cultural Heritage Education,” “Social Participation of Intangible Cultural Heritage,” and “Systems for Supporting Intangible Cultural Heritage.”
Minister Cheng noted that Taiwan has rich and valuable heritage of both tangible and intangible categories. As tangible cultural heritage contains specific form and space, it is easier to notice if such heritage were damaged during the process of development and preservation.
Intangible cultural heritage, on the other hand, consists of cultural traditions that are created, preserved, and passed on through generations. However, it is relatively difficult to manage and protect as such heritage can only be experienced through specific times and venues.
As passing on intangible cultural heritage is the key to keeping cultural vitality, cultivating related talents becomes a priority as well. The Bureau of Cultural Heritage has been pushing for talent incubation of intangible cultural heritage personnel since its establishment in 2007.
In addition to registering and recognizing important cultural and art preservationists, the Bureau has been fostering young talents through the “Important Traditional Performing Arts and Traditional Crafts Incubation Program,” and providing venues for trainees to practice and perform through collaboration with the National Center for Traditional Arts.
Moreover, the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act acts only as the bottom line for defending cultural heritage against destruction. As for the current issue on how to revitalize disappearing aspects of the nation’s culture, systematic strategies are required to preserve and maintain cultural heritage, added Minister Cheng.
The Ministry held the two-day National Cultural Congress and several civil forums earlier this year to gather feedback regarding equality and cultural rights, public participation, and co-governance for cultural heritage preservation. The convention on intangible cultural heritage this time has further deepened implementation policies on heritage preservation.
1. A plan for systematic preservation
The Ministry will continue supporting all current projects on preserving and maintaining intangible cultural heritage, developing comprehensive records, and reconstructing Taiwan art history, which encompasses fine arts, crafts, audiovisual works, photography, and traditional arts. A national database devoted to cultural memories will be constructed as well.
2. Integration of traditional arts into education system
Following the addition of traditional arts and folk culture into the nation’s 12-year curriculum, the Ministry will work with the Ministry of Education to integrate art students and apprentices into the national education system.
3. Exposure, experience, and appreciation
The Ministry will advocate for an arts education based on cultural heritage experience and exposure, such as allowing students to be mentored directly by master artisans and senior artists.
4. Revitalization of traditional sites
The Ministry will assist with the preservation of local temples, cultural venues, and community centers to restore their original cultures and functions. The creation of a networking platform for connecting social and local resources will become key to restoring Taiwanese culture and helping the world gain a better understanding of Taiwan.
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