The 24th Taiwan-France Cultural Award will be presented to Robin Ruizendaal (羅斌), director of the Taipei-based Taiyuan Asian Puppet Theatre Museum (台原亞洲偶戲博物館), and the Association Francophone d'Études Taïwanaises (AFET, 法語臺灣研究學會).
Established in 1996 to promote cultural diplomacy and research on Taiwan's culture, the Taiwan-France Culture Award was renewed for the fifth time by Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun and Jean-Robert Pitte, tenured secretary of the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques under the Institut de France, to continue enhancing cultural exchanges among Taiwan, France, and Europe through 2025.
Ruizendaal has been the curator of the Taiyuan Asian Puppet Theatre Museum since 2000. He has conducted hundreds of exhibitions to promote Taiwanese and Asian puppetry dramas, and through the Taiyuan Puppet Theatre Company, he has promoted Taiwanese puppetry culture in more than 50 countries. Additionally, he has also published a number of academic articles on Taiwanese puppetry, organized educational workshops, and managed "Touch Taiwan (臺灣不見了)," a program designed to foster greater awareness of the importance of native languages and cultures for Taiwanese indigenous children through shadow puppetry shows.
The Association Francophone d'Etudes Taïwanaises (AFET) was established in 2010 with the purpose of promoting French-language academic research on Taiwan as well as engagement through culture between Francophone countries and Taiwan. As an organizer of seminars, conferences, workshops, and round-table forums, the association will be holding a large international conference in Paris during November 2020, in which research experts on Taiwan-related issues from around the world have been invited to attend.
The Taiwan-France Culture Award has been jointly presented by the Ministry of Culture and the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques since 1996. The award ceremonies are alternatingly held in Taipei and Paris to recognize outstanding contributions of professional institutions and individuals from France and Europe that are devoted to researching and promoting Taiwan's culture.
Before the review meeting for selecting the 24th laureates, Minister Cheng and Secretary Pitte signed a fifth pact of cooperation to extend the awards to 2025, as the current Taiwan-France Culture Award collaboration agreement will expire in 2020. Jury members from both Taiwan and France attended the accord-signing ceremony to witness this new milestone in Taiwan-France culture exchanges.
Minister Cheng stated that the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques is the highest academic body in France, and it has truly been an honor to be able to present the awards together. Since 1996, a total of 40 laureates comprising individuals and institutions have been selected, significantly facilitating the flow of Taiwan-related cultural research and exchanges amongst France and Europe. Minister Cheng specially thanked the succession of secretaries, academicians, and judges of the Académie for their contributions that pave the way for the continuous success of the annual Taiwan-France Cultural Award.
Taiwan and France might be separated by 9,000 kilometers, but their shared spirit of freedom and democratic ideals have surmounted such geographic barriers, Minister Cheng concluded. Secretary Pitte also noted that the exchanges between Taiwan and France are based on the mutual recognition and joint pursuit of democracy, human rights, and innovation.