Taiwan Fun Magazine, November 2002   

Revitalizing Taiwan's Traditional Arts

Information provided by the National Center of Traditional Arts
Translated by Cheryl Robbins

       Traditional arts record our past. They are tangible reminders of days gone by, of a vibrant folk culture and special skills embraced by earlier people. Depending upon how much the traditional arts are valued, following generations will determine whether or not they survive.

      Contemporary society brings rapid change in lifestyles. Rural areas have succumbed to cities and handmade crafts have given way to more modern conveniences. Traditions are fading fast. In order to protect what does remain, the Council for Cultural Affairs of the Executive Yuan established a planning office for the National Center of Traditional Arts in March of 1996. The Center's mission is to promote, preserve and research Taiwan's traditional arts, as well as provide exhibitions, education, performances and promotional activities for the public. The overall goal is to revitalize Taiwan's folk genre and bring traditional arts back into our daily lives.

      Located in Ilan's Tungshan River Scenic Area, the Center covers an area of 24 hectares above the beautiful Tungshan River and Chingshui Park. The facilities are well equipped to present traditional theater, music, handicrafts, dance, toys and games, and folk acrobatic performances. And because there has been close cooperation with local crafts persons, artists and educational institutions, the Center is able explore new ways in promoting traditional arts and expanding awareness throughout Taiwan. A bimonthly traditional arts journal, as well as a series of books that detail the Center's efforts and various topics concerning traditional folk arts are also published through the planning office.

      After six years of preparation, the National Center of Traditional Arts opened early this year. Its first phase of development includes a Plaza, Exhibit Hall, Learning Center and Folk Arts Street. The second phase, which opened in July, features an exhibition of traditional opera from both sides of the Taiwan Strait. With the completion of this phase, the Center is able to begin in depth research and host symposiums on regional opera forms with plans to invite traditional opera groups from Taiwan and Mainland China for performances. Future additions will bring a Food Court, serving traditional snack foods, a Drama Stage, and reconstructions of a traditional ancestral shrine, a stately residence and a fishing wharf.

      The National Center of Traditional Arts puts us in touch with the traditional and keeps the arts alive. Activities staged at the Center are sure to enrich Taiwan's cultural landscape for us and for future generations.

National Center of Traditional Arts
301, Bin Hai Road, Wujie Township, Ilan County (Near kilometer marker 163.5 along the North Coast Highway-Provincial Highway No. 2)
(03) 960-5230, extension 164
Website: www.ncfta.gov.tw or www.folk.org.tw/2002

Groups of 20 persons or more should make reservations at least two days in advance.