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Taipei Culture Award has four winners

By Yali Chen
The 23rd Taipei Culture Award went to Feng De-bing (封德屏), Director of the Kishu An Forest of Literature in Taipei; Taiwanese glove puppet master Chen Xi-huang (陳錫煌); and the Dance Forum Taipei (DFT) (舞蹈空間舞蹈團), according to Taipei City’s Department of Cultural Affairs (DOCA). The Outstanding Artistic Contribution was awarded to Taiwanese rock band The Chairman (董事長樂團).
The DOCA held the Taipei Culture Award ceremony on November 30 at the Taipei Zhongshan Hall. Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je handed the awards to the winners.
Ping Heng (right)
Photo from DOCA
Ping Heng (right), Founder and Artistic Director of the Dance Forum Taipei, receives the Taipei Culture Award from Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je.
The four were chosen for their long-term contributions to enriching the city’s cultural landscape and for successfully integrating aesthetics into the daily lives of Taipei residents, the DOCA said. The recipients served as the seeds to grow Taipei’s urban aesthetics.
First launched in 1997, the Taipei Culture Award honors individuals or groups who have helped promote the richness of local culture, enhance public participation in art events, and shape the city’s image in the areas of literature, art, dance, and historic relics.
Each year, a maximum of four winners are chosen. The winners receive award certificates and a cash prize of NT$500,000.
In his speech, Mayor Ko said that 65 winners had received the awards over the past 23 years. They made major contributions to the arts, culture, dance, music, and literature.
As a tribute to the winners, the DOCA arranged a variety of performances for the awards ceremony. Puyuma singer Chen Yon-lon (陳永龍), Chen Xi-huang’s Traditional Puppet Theater (陳錫煌傳統掌中劇團), the Dance Forum Taipei, and The Chairman band all performed on stage. The performances demonstrated the awardees’ wide range of artistic talent.
First, Chen sang a song as a tribute to the winner Feng De-bing. The poetic song, “Dawu Mountain, Our Beautiful Mother,” (大武山美麗的媽媽) honored Feng as the literary field’s beautiful mother who nurtures the beauty of Taiwan literature.
Second, Taiwanese glove puppet master Chen Xi-huang and his students gave a puppet show. It was a romantic comedy adapted by him, his father, and his younger brother. The audience expressed admiration at how the 89-year-old master moved a puppet’s hands and feet.
The third performance was “South” (南之頌) – one of the “30th Anniversary” programs selected by the DFT. Japanese choreographer Toru Shimazaki (島崎徹) created this piece to show his love for Taiwan’s indigenous culture.
The grand finale of the awarding ceremony was a combination of original Taiwanese rock ‘n’ roll and traditional folk and religious performances. The Chairman band sang their two famous songs “God Bless Taiwan” (眾神護台灣) and “Goddess of Jiu-Tian” (九天玄女) with the Na-Cha Folk & Arts Troupe (哪吒劇坊).
Budaixi: A kind of Epic Opera
Taiwanese glove puppet master Chen Xi-huang moves the hands and feet of two puppets.
Photo from DOCA
Taiwanese glove puppet master Chen Xi-huang moves the hands and feet of two puppets.
Traditional puppet theater, also known as Budaixi, is a kind of epic opera performed with glove puppets on a portable, ornate wooden stage. For centuries, glove puppetry was one of the most popular forms of entertainment. It even survived a ban during the period of Japanese rule from 1895 to 1945. But more recently, modern forms of entertainment – like TV, movies and karaoke – have taken over.
Chen Xi-huang is one of Taiwan’s few remaining traditional puppet masters. Born in 1931, Chen began his puppet shows at the age of thirteen with his father – Taiwanese noted puppet master Li Tian-lu (李天祿).
Over a long successful career spanning 70-odd years, he has devoted all his life to the development of Taiwanese glove puppetry, achieving an unprecedented level of excellence while performing worldwide in over 30 countries across Asia, Europe and Africa, as well as North and South America.
Since the 1980s, Chen together with his father and brother Li Chuan-can (李傳燦) has been engaged in educating young enthusiasts of local glove puppetry. More important, the 78-year-old master founded Chen Xi-huang’s Traditional Puppet Theater in 2009 in an effort to preserve and promote the beauty of Taiwan’s traditional puppet shows.
He and his troupe believe that it’s time for Budaixi to make a comeback. They are adding modern twists to their performances to bring puppetry to younger audiences. The veteran puppet master also specialized in the props, such as small weapons, short blades, helmets, and portable, ornate wooden stages.
In 2012, the Ministry of Culture granted Chen the National Cultural Heritage Conservation Award in recognition of his efforts to pass on traditional arts to the next generation and keep the art of traditional puppetry alive.
A Guardian of Taiwan Literature
Feng De-bing is a winner of the 23rd Taipei Culture Award.
Photo from DOCA
Feng De-bing is a winner of the 23rd Taipei Culture Award.

Feng De-bing has been a literary editor for more than three decades and devoted herself to publishing and preserving Taiwan’s precious historical data. As Chairwoman and Editor-in-Chief of Wen-Hsun Magazine, she has recorded and analyzed the development of Taiwanese literary movements and trends for many years.
In 2003, the literary journal Wen-Hsun faced closure. Feng led her colleagues to transform the magazine into a literary data center. It narrowly survived a near closure and has become a public forum trusted by literary circles.
Feng also established the Taiwan Literature Development Foundation in the same year to help collect Taiwan’s precious historical records and items. In 2011, the DOCA commissioned her to take charge of the Kishu An Forest of Literature (紀州庵文學森林) off Tongan Street in Taipei’s Zhongzheng District.
The newly developed Kishu An Forest of Literature in Taipei aims to provide a venue for people to enjoy and learn about good books and meet and talk with authors.
In 2016, Feng developed the Wen-Hsun Database for full-text scanning and retrieval. It has become a great tool for literature experts and researchers. This year, she was presented with the Taipei Culture Award in recognition of her commitment and contribution to the development of Taiwanese literature.
A Global Platform for Choreographers and Performers
Dancers from the Dance Forum Taipei perform on stage at the awards ceremony on November 30.
Photo from DOCA
Dancers from the Dance Forum Taipei perform on stage at the awards ceremony on November 30.
The Dance Forum Taipei was founded by Ping Heng (平珩) in 1989. It is an icon of contemporary dance in Taiwan. Ping now serves as the dance company’s artistic director and lectures at the Taipei National University of the Arts.
The Taipei-based DFT functions as a globally inclusive platform for choreographers and performers from Taiwan and overseas to work together and share experiences with each other.
Under Ping’s leadership, the troupe has staged 80 productions by working with 56 choreographers and 163 designers since its inception in 1989. From 2008, it began to create co-productions with international dance companies and production houses, including the Nederlands Dans Theater and Korzo Theater in The Hague, as well as Skanes Dansteater in Sweden and Mercat de les Flors in Barcelona.
Some of the productions have premiered in Taiwan as part of the National Theater Concert Hall’s Taiwan International Festival of Art (TIFA) and then toured abroad. Others started overseas and then returned home.
With more than 1,000 performances, the DFT has toured throughout the island, as well as 39 major cities in the U.S., France, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea. It has also been invited to perform at the Lille Opera House and American Dance Festival.
To celebrate its 30th anniversary, the company launched four new productions to highlight its core spirits in dance, creativity and artistry. The four pieces, “Jiang” (勥), “Dance Force” (舞力), “Moon River 2.0” (月球水2.0), and “Media” (媒體入侵) were created by the DFT in cooperation with international choreographers.
A Taiwanese Rock Band
The Chairman’s vocalist sings Taiwanese rock music while a traditional martial arts team performs their wushu moves.
Photo from DOCA
The Chairman’s vocalist sings Taiwanese rock music while a traditional martial arts team performs their wushu moves.
Founded in 1997, The Chairman is a Taiwanese rock band. Its name came from its members’ hope that Taiwanese people could decide their own destiny one day.
Over the past 22 years, the band has released 22 albums, branching out into films and musicals. Its early creations were renowned for their social criticism and promotion of environmental protection.
In recent years, the band has incorporated nanguan, beiguan and Taiwanese opera into rock ’n’ roll to attract young people to better understand local culture. It has also added the special Taiwanese ceremony Ba Jia Jiang (Eight Generals) into its performances in a bid to reinterpret the culture of Taiwan’s traditional temple fairs.
The Chairman received eight Golden Melody nominations for Best Band of the Year. It won the Golden Melody Awards for Best Band of the Year in 2018 and seven Golden Melody awards for Best Album in Taiwanese of the Year. Such achievements prove that it is a great example of combining rock ’n’ roll and folk culture.