Written by Chang Bin Lee
In 2002, the Central Government of Taiwan (CGT) initiated the Challenge 2008: National Development Plan focusing on administrative policies toward cultural and creative industries. Cultural policy arose because the CGT administering industrial development adopted a cultural perspective and was committed to promoting policies that implemented this new perspective. Consequently, an entrepreneurial public administration, the intersection between creativity and commerce, and tourism-oriented development became the primary factors contributing to the success of cultural policies in Taiwan.
The CGT considered many local, regional, and national characteristics in designing its cultural policy. The CGT’s regional cultural policy implementation was based on the operation of industrial clusters and revitalizing vacant space in creative parks, whereas local cultural support was obtained for creative market promotions and urban marketing methods. The CGT also focused on the importance of developing nationwide regulations and maintaining an organized administration for the operation of cultural and creative industries, implementing a balanced approach to urban and rural development, and encouraging the public and private sectors to collaborate in designing and executing industrial policies. In particular, the CGT sought to integrate Taiwanese creative talent into the cultural and industrial sectors of mainland China and expand Taiwan’s role in international markets (e.g., Mandarin-speaking areas in East Asia) by exploiting the strengths of Taiwan’s media sector. CGT cultural policy toward Taiwan’s cultural and creative industries focused on creating new cultural assets to attract visitors and generate revenue through tourism.
New cultural and creative industries have influenced the attitudes of public sector agencies promoting cultural policies in Taiwan. The CGT has broadened its approach to cultural and creative industries by incorporating culture and creativity into national development policies to facilitate the economic transformation of traditional industries. Since 2002, Taiwan has implemented policies for cultural and creative industries that have generated notable increases in revenue and employment growth. The CGT has also adopted a cultural perspective with regard to industrial development and has actively promoted policies consistent with this new perspective. Implementing the Cultural and Creative Industry Development Act and establishing the Ministry of Culture reveal that the CGT acknowledges the value of Taiwan’s cultural and creative industries and their potential contribution to future growth and development.
Over the past decade, the CGT has implemented policies for cultural and creative industries based on an environmental readiness strategy and the promotion of flagship businesses in Taiwan’s film, radio and television, popular music and cultural content, crafts, product design, and digital content industries. Environmental readiness requires infrastructural design and planning; in addition to political considerations, it depends on adequate funding of the cultural and creative sectors to cultivate new businesses and encourage and enhance growth. Promoting flagship businesses requires identifying potentially lucrative companies in the cultural and creative sectors that are able to thrive in economic and cultural markets. Moreover, environmental readiness strategies can enhance all cultural and creative industries, whether or not these industries include flagship businesses.
The underlying conditions for the success of cultural policies in Taiwan include tourism activities. The present study reveals that culture is currently linked to tourism through creative parks. Scholarly debate typically holds that tourism serves as a moderator between economic growth and cultural policy because original cultural products typically function as tourist commodities, and creativity is decontextualized to entertain visitors. The shift toward combining culture and tourism represents a shift in the perception of the characteristics and role of culture due to a shift in focus to commodification and display. In Taiwan, tourism has shifted the responsibility for protecting regional culture from the CGT to the market, which has reduced the meaningfulness and intrinsic creativity of Taiwan’s indigenous culture.
Combining culture, creativity, and commerce has facilitated the development and growth of Taiwan’s cultural and creative industries. Because creativity enhances the value of culture, both culture and creativity have become sustainable commercial operations. The CGT and its policies toward Taiwan’s cultural and creative industries have evolved from recognizing culture as an aspect of production and consumption to completely endorsing it as a value-added economic resource. Economic developments in Taiwan’s cultural and creative industries remain a current focus of interest. The recognition of culture and creativity as essential economic forces has caused private sectors, including declining traditional industries, to transform their operations and relocate to cultural and creative realms. These changes might be sustainable and beneficial to overall economic and cultural growth, or they might provide only short-term solutions that do not actually or permanently improve Taiwan’s economic and cultural landscapes. The CGT must clarify and solidify its goals for the design and implementation of cultural policies that allow Taiwan’s cultural and creative industries to promote cultural values and thrive in both creative and commercial environments.
Interventions that influence government policy, reshape markets, reorganize industries, or promote cultural products and businesses are fundamentally problematic because they strengthen capitalism and further increase its power over Taiwanese cultural imagery. Perhaps a more important shift has been the manner in which Taiwan’s cultural and creative industries have adopted the previously novel concept of junction to transform the future of culture, creativity, and commerce in Taiwan. Similarly, the transformation of dominant policy discourse toward productive engagement with digital technologies might generate new possibilities for aligning creativity and intellectual capital with novel economic growth strategies. Moreover, cultural and creative industries promise a new alignment of arts and media policies with economic policies. The example provided by the contributions of the 15 categories of cultural and creative industries to job creation reveals that new sources of wealth and new Taiwanese exports have become critical factors in the successful implementation of cultural policy in Taiwan.
Dr Chang Bin Lee, Ph.D is Associate Professor of Ming Chuan University. Photo Credit: Flickr/ lyhon Chiu