I assumed the position of Cultural Affairs Department Director-general upon the request of County Magistrate Pan Men-an.While I was not born in Pingtung, I have conducted over 20 years of field research here. Despite this, I have only a superficial understanding of this region, and hope you who are native from various walks of life will provide me with advice and guidance.
The Cultural Affairs Department's cultural policies have the four following focal points: (1) creating signifiers for Pingtung; (2) rescuing cultural assets; (3) developing the cultural and creative industries; and (4) being proactive in the operation of the Performing Arts Center in order to further highlight the culture of Pingtung. The creation of signifiers for Pingtung serves as the most critical foundation for discourse, and acts as the axis of development for the other three items. Planning for the Cultural Affairs Department's main activities is closely tied with these signifiers as a primary axis, as they originate in local sentiment and memory, and facilitate further public understanding of this land.
Simply stated, the creation of signifiers for Pingtung allows for the public to understand the local geology, climate, culture, and history. In addition, this makes it possible to clearly explain, in three minutes, what makes Pingtung unique based on its collective memories and sentiments.
The Cultural Affairs Department holds lectures on the creation of signifiers for Pingtung each month, and systematically invites scholars and experts to introduce Pingtung's history and culture. Key records, as well as audio and video files for these lectures, are posted on the Cultural Affairs Department's Facebook page in order to allow more of Pingtung's citizens to understand their local culture and history.
Pingtung stretches 112 kilometers from north to south, thus occupying 28%, or over one quarter, of the island's length, and 47 kilometers from east to west at the widest point. The region does not possess many cultural resources, and also has a population with a large percentage of elderly and underprivileged persons. It is hoped that the project to bring culture to rural areas will allow notions of “cultural rights for the elderly” to be realized, and that the older generation can enjoy the pleasure of art in their lives.
The rescuing of cultural heritages has been an important part of my tenure. The preservation of the traces which record the ancestors' stewardship of Pingtung is the safeguarding of its people's memories, and also a precious gift to our younger generations.
The Cultural Affairs Department is creating activities such as “Birthdays for Old Trees,” “Finding Tu Di Gong (the god of the earth),” “Reexamining the Mudan Incident,” the “Makatto Tribe’s CulturalRenaissance,” and others. These activities allow people to understand that a tree in this ground is not merely a tree, a house not merely a house, and a festival not merely a festival. Because we have collective feelings and memories, we come together to form clans, gather into villages, and establish the nation.
The third focal point of administration is the cultural and creative industries, and its goal is to provide young people in Pingtung with hope for the future and a platform from which to realize their full potential. Because spatial and temporal conditions vary from place to place, it is impossible to create culture out of thin air, nor can it simply be duplicated. Pingtung culture must be forged so as to make others take notice of the “Pingtung experience.” This will allow our young people to realize their potential in their hometown while remaining with their families.
Finally, I would like to address my desire to proactively manage the Performing Arts Center. How can we conceptualize a new operational locus for the Pingtung County Performing Arts Center so as to distinguish it from the nearby Wei Wu Ying Center for the Arts and Dadong Arts Center, in addition to establishing ties related to cultural resources? This is an extremely important issue.
Pingtung is rich in cultural and natural treasures. I refer to Pingtung as a diamond, as it is like a diamond with many surfaces, all of them glistening. We need only create a local identity and sense of cultural honor based on the qualities which are truly unique to Pingtung in order for our comfortable lives to become the “Pingtung experience”which other counties and cities can observe and learn from.
The path which the Cultural Affairs Department will collectively pursue in the future includes understanding the signifiers for Pingtung, accurately applying them in action in our county, and ultimately achieving a rich and one-of-a-kind “Pingtung experience.”