Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chun visited the Chen Yueji Residence on Aug. 25 to announce its registration as a Class III Historic Site. The home was approved for this honor on the basis of its long and close connection to the development of the greater Taipei area. While making the announcement, the Minister also talked about the Bureau of Cultural Heritage's plans to work on speeding up restoration work in the future.
Since taking office, Minister Cheng said, she has worked hard to improve the compensation mechanism for privately owned historic sites. The Bureau of Cultural Heritage has already amended the Key Points for Restoration and Preservation of Cultural Heritage and Management of Maintenance Support, reducing payments by owners from 10% to 5% earlier this year. This means that following the registration of the Chen Yueji Residence as a historic site, 95% of restoration costs will be funded from the budget of the Ministry of Culture.
In addition, the Ministry will continue to strengthen the compensation mechanism, including looking at setting up a trust fund that can be drawn on for purchases as necessary for buildings valued as cultural heritage. Through this, the Ministry hopes that private property owners will be more willing to coordinate on preservation work.
The Chen Yueji Residence (陳悅記祖宅) is a symbol of the vibrant culture of the Dalongdong area, said Minister Cheng, with generations of talent having come from this home and family, including current resident and po-te-hi puppet theater master Chen Hsi-huang (陳錫煌), a national treasure living in another national treasure.
The Minister also made a special mention of the impending increase of the Bureau of Cultural Heritage's intangible cultural heritage budget, which will more than triple next year, rising from the current NT$95.38 million to over NT$300 million.
There are also plans to increase the allowances available to practitioners of traditional arts, enabling them to pursue their art with peace of mind. For example, when students complete their studies with master puppeteer Chen, his protégés could then choose to work with the National Center for Traditional Arts or in the civic sector as a teacher and performer, putting on monthly shows and receiving a steady income while refining their art.
Minister Cheng also stated that next year, the budget for the National Center for Traditional Arts' "Successor Project" and "Blossoming Branches Project" would be raised from the current NT$54 million to over NT$100 million. The Ministry hopes that such efforts will help keep Taiwan's traditional arts and intangible cultural heritage — such as po-te-hi and koa-a-hi (Taiwanese puppetry and opera) — alive and vibrant, as passing them down is the best way to preserve them.
The Chen Yueji Residence is in urgent need of protection, said Minister Cheng, particularly given the frequent heavy rains of late. Preventive measures need to be put in place, and given the urgency of the work, the Minister urged everyone to pitch in to protect Taiwan's valuable historic sites.