Deputy Minister of Culture Hsiao Tsung-huang (蕭宗煌) and President Bert Determann of the International Organisation of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians (OISTAT) signed an agreement on May 28 to extend Taiwan's role as the host of OISTAT's international headquarters by another five years.
OISTAT, an international community of theater designers, professionals, and practitioners celebrating the making of live performance worldwide, moved its secretariat to Taiwan from the Netherlands in 2006 at the invitation of the Council for Cultural Affairs, the predecessor of the Ministry of Culture. Five years later, the office was upgraded to become the organization's international headquarters.
The Deputy Minster stressed that Taiwan entered a grand era of theater upon the unveiling of the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts (衛武營), which is also known as Weiwuying and touted by The Guardian as the biggest arts venue on Earth, in October last year. The Kaohsiung center is one of the three performing arts centers that the Ministry has completed in northern, central, and southern Taiwan in recent years.
The magnificence of these centers, he added, proves Taiwan's capability in managing large-scale performing arts centers and hosting internationally renowned artists and troupes.
He noted that theater technicians have become ever more important than before as regional performing centers are also improving their facilities and personnel training with the support of the central government’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program.
Agreeing with OISTAT's emphasis on scenographers, theater architects, and technicians as the three key elements for theater operations, Deputy Minister Hsiao stated that OISTAT is one of the few international NGOs headquartered in Taiwan and that he looks forward to seeing it grow as a global platform for theater exchanges.
OISTAT President Determann, who flew in from the Netherlands to sign the agreement, thanked the Ministry of Culture for its long-standing support for the organization so that it can operate its headquarters in Taiwan and while remaining connected to theater communities around the world.
After Taiwan joined the OISTAT network, the Ministry worked closely with the OISTAT headquarters for many years to help Taiwan's theater sector keep abreast of global trends and create more opportunities for Taiwan's performing artists, theater architects, and theater technicians.
For instance, over the past decade, Taiwan's theater sector has won several international awards, including accolades bestowed to lighting designer Chien Li-zen (簡立人) and costume designer Lin Hen-cheng (林恆正) at the 2009 World Stage Design in Seoul, and the those received by multimedia designer Chou Tung-yen (周東彥) at the 2013 World Stage Design in Cardiff.
The Taiwan Association of Theatre Technology (TATT) also obtained the right to hold the 2017 World Stage Design exhibition in Taipei. The event drew approximately 15,000 visitors in nine days to view works from 35 nations. In total, the 2017 exhibition awarded 12 gold, 12 silver, and 13 bronze medals in emerging and professional categories. Taiwanese designers bagged five gold, two silver, and three bronze, attesting to Taiwan's growing influence and vigor in the theater world.
Among other future collaboration plans, OISTAT, Taiwan Association of Theatre Technology, and Taiwanese designers and performers will take part in the 2019 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, which will run from June 6 to 16 in the Czech Republic.
Dignitaries, including prominent Taiwanese cultural professionals, attended the May 28 signing ceremony to support the MOC-OISTAT cooperation and celebrate the arrival of a new prosperous era for Taiwan's theater sector.