Words by Li Chiao-Chi Translated by Anna Yang Photos provided by Taichung City Government Cultural Affairs Bureau; Huang Chi-feng; Wu Chi-hsueh
Instilling the city with fresh value through cultural and creative initiatives
Colorful Taichung overflows with an abundance of resources, including a rich ecology with a diversity of wildlife, cultural attractions and a strong industrial foundation. In addition, the city’s ability to attract cultural and creative industry creators and works from every corner of Taiwan has made it even more outstanding, helping to cement this industry’s position in any future vision for Taichung.
Taichung is home to many talented individuals that have received world recognition as the city has recently unveiled an abundance of cultural creative facets. Taichung City Government Cultural Affairs Bureau Director Chang Ta-chun notes that the city is infused with “inclusiveness”, “plenty of talented people” and “vitality in various industries”. Building on these attributes, Taichung City Mayor Lu Shiow-yen has introduced her vision for “developing a strong, wonderful Taichung” that includes the promotion of plans to “make Taichung products visible by association, strengthen industrial techniques and capabilities, and create a rich city with the support of laws and initiatives”.
Creating an innovative urban style
Taichung’s top-quality exterior/interior architecture, garden landscaping, restaurant and hotel industry facilities and services, and leisure tourism have attracted global attention. However, it can be challenging to transform a city with a long history into a city of new vitality. To achieve this, Taichung City Cultural Affairs Bureau has gathered individuals to assist in the launching of promotional policies and events to support the cultural and creative industry. For instance, 2016 and 2017 preparations for the 2018 Taichung World Flora Expo focused on handicraft and flora arrangement related cultural and creative promotions, with the city government aggressively encouraging businesses to come up with cultural and creative products related to the Flora Expo.
Unique cultural and creative goods represent the actual production value of culture. In addition, the shaping and beautification of entire districts and streets are also indispensable parts of local cultural development. Director Chang notes that “streets with special characteristics” are the Cultural Affairs Bureau’s focus. With the added support of Taichung’s Economic Development Bureau and Urban Development Bureau, Taichung residents and businesses have cooperated with these initiatives to fill many corners of the city with a rich cultural ambiance. Such unique urban vistas have attracted tourists from around the world and successfully helped to market Taichung.
Located between ZhongXing Street and MinSheng Road, Shengji New Village is a renovated former government housing complex that dates back to over a half-century ago. Taichung’s Cultural Affairs Bureau has made this venue a cultural and creative complex as part of an effort to create many more similar communities around the city.
Helping innovative Taichung showcase cultural and creative works
In order to inspire more creative talent to join cultural and creative projects, Taichung’s Cultural Affairs Bureau launched its “Creative Taichung” project in 2011. As part of this initiative, various activities such as exhibitions, lectures and workshops help to serve as magnets for creativity. For many years, cultural and creative exhibitions held at Calligraphy Greenway, Qingshui Military Village and Guangfu New Village have earned affirmation and praise from many individuals and businesses. These events serve as platforms that attract young people and promote the exchange of creative ideas while simultaneously providing a boost to the local economy.
Cultural Affairs Bureau Director Chang stresses that there are many counseling and subsidy programs for cultural and creative industries every year. Related consultations, lectures, work camp activities and recruitment competitions also attract numerous youthful participants, with the purpose of cultivating talent, providing a platform for entrepreneurial resources and achievements, and serving as a foundation for the city’s creative design industry.
There is a tremendous need for public cooperation with such Taichung City Government policies in order to create a better future. Among the city’s cultural and creative sites, the Fantasy Story Green Ray project and Steve Wu’s company (Di Biao Jui Chao: 地表最潮) are among iconic non-governmental initiatives and organizations.
Fantasy Story Green Ray General Manager Chung Jun-yen, who pioneered the project, says that Taichung is a suitable cradle for cultivating the cultural and creative industry for various reasons. First, there are many entrepreneurs in central Taiwan that are brave enough to run their own businesses. Second, the Taichung City Government pays much attention to cultural and creative facets and values investments into young people’s innovative ideas. Steve Wu, who manages Red Dot Hotel as well as 368 Village, carefully selected young people’s proposals and built a venue designed to draw innovative designers together. His village has become a tourist “must-visit” destination in Taichung.
Cultural and creative design is the “DNA of Taichung” and serves as one of the city’s most distinctive “business cards”. Taichung City has created its own unique brand of cultural and economic development. The most important facet is the ability of these innovative products and street designs to reflect and embody this city’s happiness and its brand value. It is hoped that such continuing cultural and creative projects, initiated by Taichung City Government and residents, will achieve the vision of developing strong, wonderful Taichung.