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23rd Taipei Culture Award winners announced

By Dory Chung
Every year, The Taipei Culture Awards honor individuals and groups whose work promotes Taiwanese culture. This year’s winners are those whose everyday work has led to multicultural artistic presentations in the city.
After several rounds of voting, the selection committee chose four winners: Feng Deping (封德屏), for her work in promoting literature; puppet show master Chen Xihuang (陳錫煌) for his life-long dedication to this Taiwanese art form; the 30-year old “Dance Forum” (舞蹈空間); and “The Chairman Band” (董事長樂團), for bringing Taiwanese rock & roll onto the world stage. The Taipei City Government will host the awarding ceremony at the end of November.
A Champion of Taiwanese literature
Feng Deping (封德屏) injected new life into Wenhsun Magazine (文訊雜誌)
Photo by Taipei City Government
Feng Deping (封德屏) injected new life into Wenhsun Magazine (文訊雜誌). “My vocation is to promote and preserve literature,” she says. 
Wenhsun Magazine (文訊雜誌) was established 35 years ago and almost ceased publication in 2003. Thanks to Feng Deping, its current chairman and chief editor, the literary magazine sprang back to life.
Feng founded the “Taiwan Literature Development Foundation” that revived Wenhsun Magazine and gave birth to the Wenhsun Literature Research and Service Center (文藝資料研究及服務中心), and the Jizhou An Literature Forest (紀州庵文學森林).
Wenhsun won the “Best Magazine” award from the former Council for Cultural Affairs, the Golden Tripod Awards, and the Taiwan Literature Grant. Miss Feng was also named “best editor” and “special contributor” by the Golden Tripod Awards.
The content of Wenhsun includes literature development in Taiwan, collections of articles by famous writers and academic studies. It is a preserver of Taiwanese literature.
Founded in 1982, the “Literature Research and Service Center” edits and systematizes articles, reviews, manuscripts, letters, videos, and photos. The Center has thus become a database of literature and reference books. .
“Wenhsun Knowledge Base” was founded in 2016. It is a research database with more than two hundred thousand books and magazines in digital files. In 2011, Taipei City Government’s Department of Cultural Affairs appointed Feng Deping to manage the “Jizhou An Literature Forest,” Taipei City’s first art and culture hall whose architectural design was meant to convey a literary ambience. It has become an important venue for art and culture events, and a cultural destination for foreign tourists.
Feng Deping has been working hard to maintain and organize Taiwanese literature. She does this by showing support to people working in the fields of art and culture. She also promotes different types of literature from different generations.
A National Treasure personified
Chen Xihuang (陳錫煌) is a national treasure. At 89 years old, he still promotes the art of traditional Taiwanese puppet show.
Photo by Taipei City Government
Chen Xihuang (陳錫煌) is a national treasure. At 89 years old, he still promotes the art of traditional Taiwanese puppet show.
Chen Xihuang, 89 years old and a revered national artist, is one of the leaders in the preservation of the classical Taiwanese puppet show.
He was 13 years old when he followed his father, Li Tianlu, in performing Taiwanese puppet shows. Since then, he has worked hard to preserve Taiwan’s traditional puppet show in order to pass it on to the next generation.
Now the director of “Chen Xihuang Traditional Puppet Show,” he remains ever willing to teach puppetry skills to the younger generation. He wants as many people as possible to learn and keep the tradition. He is the only recipient of the “Guardian of the Traditional Puppet Show”, and “Guardian of Traditional Puppet Props and Costumes” awards from the Ministry of Culture.
At a young age, Master Chen learned from different puppeteers and eventually developed his own style, doing his best to make the puppets come alive and resemble real people.
The quintessential puppetry artist has a deep sense of mission to preserve this traditional art form and got together his disciples to form the “Chen Xihuang Traditional Puppet Show” troupe in 2008, when he was 78 years old.
He often holds workshops in schools and has represented Taiwan to perform in more than 30 countries including the US, Germany, France, Belgium, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand. He is well-known around the world as an expert at making puppetry props, such as weapons, costumes, and decorations. His creations have become collectors’ favorites due to their artistic and practical values.
Builder of a global platform for dance
Dance Forum (舞蹈空間舞團)
Photo by Taipei City Government
Dance Forum (舞蹈空間舞團) has flourished for 30 years. Ping Heng (平珩), the artistic director of Dance Forum (3rd from the left, standing), encourages the group to keep on improving their art.
Dance Forum has been working on a platform for international dance creation since its establishment in 1989.  
Ping Heng, its founder and winner of the 3rd Dance Award under the National Art and Culture Awards, has successfully transformed the group into an open platform for international dance creation.
Their creative and revolutionary styles have gained the acclaim of audiences in Asia, America, and Europe. In 2002, the troupe created the new dance theme, “Oriental Physical Body Aesthetics” an expression of the flexibility of the oriental body.
Fifty-six choreographers and 163 dance designers have created 80 brilliant performances to this day. In their 30 years, Dance Forum has performed all over Taiwan, America, France, The Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea. They were even invited to perform at the Opéra de Lille, France, and the American Dance Festival. Jack Anderson, the main review writer of The New York Times, once said: “Dance Forum is well choreographed and their performance is delightful.”
The troupe organized “Huang-guan Art Festival” in 1994 to encourage young artists to create new dances. The famous Paperwindmill Theatre, Comedians Workshop, and Puppet & Its Double Theater were co-organizers of that festival.
Dance Forum’s most recent innovation is that of finding ways to involve visual or hearing impaired people in their art.
Promoters of Taiwanese Rock & Roll
“The Chairman” (董事長樂團)
Photo by Taipei City Government
“The Chairman” (董事長樂團) is a pioneer band of Taiwanese rock & roll. They blend Taiwanese culture with their passion for rock & roll and thus create a new style.
The Chairman Band was established in 1997. In its 22 years, the band has sought to merge traditional music with Rock & Roll. Their 22 music albums express this inspiration. They have also produced the film “Killed by Rock and Roll,” and the musical play, “The Floating Flower.”
Their Taiwanese style rock & roll has gained fame and brought them awards and performances at many international concerts.
In their early years, the band’s music focused on social criticism and care for the environment. Recently their concern that the Taiwanese language is fading away have made them enhance the local flavor of their work. For example, they include Taiwanese opera, folk music, and traditional instruments such as the Nanguan and the Beiguan in their creations.
They use the traditional Taiwanese opera facial makeup to promote the temple culture. In 2010, their music album, “The Gods Bless Taiwan” won many awards. Its music made use of local religion themes and temple musical instruments. In 2017, their album, “The Offering”, won the Best Band of the 29th Golden Melody Awards, for their unique use of the Jiu Tian Drum Array in their performance.
In 2018, their video, “Goddess of Jiu Tian”, was nominated for many music awards. The video featured hand painted scenery as well as Taoist and Taiwanese folk stories. It helped increase Taiwan’s presence on the world stage.
The band has successfully encouraged young people to want to know more about their local culture.
Taipei City Government’s Department of Cultural Affairs will host the awarding ceremony for the 23rd Taipei Culture Awards at Zhongshan Hall in Taipei by the end of November. Lead-up activities will enable everyone to know the winners better.