Seeing how youths have performed well in many competitions sponsored by non-government organizations in recent years, the Ministry of Culture has organized the first-ever "Youth Go! Village Cultural Development Project Competition,” which offers prize money of up to NT$1 million. All those within the age range of 20 to 35 are welcome to submit a project proposal before Sept. 30.
Unlike past practices of giving communities subsidies, "Youth Village Cultural Development Project” provides youths with more opportunities to bring into play their advantages and help local communities to develop diverse and innovative forms of economy by accentuating regional artistic and cultural merits.
The Ministry of Culture held a press conference at the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park on Aug. 28 and invited three special guests to share their experiences in working with youths on village arts and cultural development.
President Yeh Wen-hui (葉文輝) of the Taiwan Yuan-li Handiwork Association shared his experience of revitalizing the rush industry in Miaoli. The export of rush handicrafts had flourished in the 1960s but it declined in the 1970s due to changes in consumption patterns. Through community empowerment in the 1990s, youths have been led to understand the materials and crafts of the rush industry, and to seek more product possibilities and bring out new ideas.
Subsidized by the Ministry of Culture's program for village cultural development last year, rush handicrafts created by youths in cooperation with local craftsmen won the Bronze Medal in Japan's Muji Award, bringing great encouragement to those youths and local residents.
The addition of the energetic and motivated youths have led to reinvigorated local micro industries and fostered a new outlook on the traditional craft, Yeh stated, explaining that they are also scheduled to participate in the Bazaar Berlin at the end of this year, using a craft native to Miaoli to bring Taiwanese villages to the world stage.
Lu Yao-zhong (呂耀中) from the Buffalo Design Tribe Company in Tugou Village in Tainan shared the experience of a group of Tainan National University of the Arts graduates working continuously in the local community for 10 years.
At the beginning, community residents did not understand art and the design company resorted to the strategy of "illegal immigration” by smuggling artworks into the rural village. Through a series of fugitive measures to transform the environment by art, they led community residents to gradually become close enough to understand and identify with art in the process of participation.
The group is now working with the concept of a rural art gallery with no fences or walls, Lu noted, and will continue to use their originality and vitality to nurture the blossoming transformation of their adopted community.
Chen Yi-lin (陳亦琳), founder of OBLTaiwan, also shared her experience in entering local communities and taking concrete actions to promote Taiwanese tourist attractions that were not in popular demand. First, she led her team members to meet with local residents to discover their passion and insights. Such interactions were then put into words and images that the team used to craft professional presentations and creative marketing campaigns to promote Taiwan's aboriginal tribes and scenic spots in rural areas.
All local residents and foreign nationals aged between 20 and 35 are eligible to participate in this competition, which is divided into three categories — promoting arts and culture, revitalizing micro industries, and establishing business matchmaking platforms to assist village cultural development.
There are a total of 105 available slots in the contest and those who passed the review will receive grants ranging from NT$200,000 to NT$1 million to implement their projects, in addition to prize money of NT$100,000 each. The Ministry of Culture will also provide relevant professional advice, guidance, and resources to support and accompany the implementation of the winning projects.
Take a leap and enter the world of Taiwan's villages, indigenous tribes, and other areas where resources are scarce, for dreams are not limited by borders or nationalities. Log onto http://youthgo.moc.gov.tw today.