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Monga-Longshan Cultural & Creative B2: An emerging base for exploring Wanhua culture

By Yali Chen
 
Monga-Longshan Cultural & Creative B2 in Taipei is an art and cultural incubation base committed to nurturing local artists and designers.
 
The base used to be the Longshan Metro Mall, located at B2 of the MRT Longshan Temple Station. Taipei City’s Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) spent more than six months transforming the poorly managed mall into the new incubation base in an effort to attract young artists and customers.
 
At the opening ceremony on December 20, 2016, Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je and the DCA commissioner Chung Yung-feng said that the Monga-Longshan Cultural & Creative B2 will function as a cultural and creative platform for local artists, designers and tourists from Taiwan and overseas to exchange ideas, thereby invigorating the Wanhua District, previously known as Monga area.
 
But after nearly a year of operations, some stores decided to close their businesses at the end of last year due to insufficient marketing and sparse visitors.
 
New Management Team
 
In a move to improve the status quo, the DCA commissioned a new operating team in March 2018 to manage the Monga-Longshan Cultural & Creative B2 and help local stores with marketing and publicity.
 
“We took over responsibility for this incubation base on May 1 this year,” said Peng Tsai-hsun, Director of Waley Art. “Its operation has just run for eighteen months, so its outlook needs time to develop.”

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Photo by LRM
Sun Tsui-feng opens her first cultural and creative store at the Monga-Longshan Cultural &
Creative B2 to promote Taiwanese opera.

 
Located at B2 of the MRT Longshan Temple Station, the Monga-Longshan Cultural & Creative B2 is very close to Longshan Temple – one of the most visited religious sites in the capital, Peng said.
 
A host of fortune-telling and massage booths are set up at B1 of the station. Some vendors sell souvenirs for those who often visit the Longshan Temple.
 
“Every year this temple attracts a large number of tourists at home and abroad. They may also have an interest in local crafts. We hope to draw them to visit the Monga-Longshan Cultural & Creative B2,” Peng said. “We believe that despite a rocky start, the incubation base will have great potential for further development in the future.”
 
Founded in August 2014, Waley Art is a Wanhua-based company committed to local art and development. In recent years, the company has gradually extended its reach to curating international art exhibitions, organizing contemporary performing arts and art shows, and participating in community transformation.
 
The director said that every year Waley Art stages art exhibitions in four or five countries. In the first half of this year, they have been to Japan and Hong Kong. The company plans to hold art shows in the U.K. and South Korea in the second half of the year.
 
A Diversity of Products in 3 Areas
 
Peng expects to leverage his company’s abundant experience in art exhibitions to help local shops at the incubation base to find new opportunities, attract new customers, and sell their creative products.
 
With a total of 25 spaces, the Monga-Longshan Cultural & Creative B2 is divided into 3 areas – cultural and creative products, exhibition space of art and history, and cultural and creative services.

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Photo by LRM
Taipei Ching Ho Kuang Lion Dance Troupe is committed to promoting the culture
of Taiwan’s traditional temple fairs.

 
Nearly 22 local artists and designers, as well as small-sized cultural and creative companies started their operations in the first area of cultural and creative products.
 
Taiwan’s fashion designer Wu Liang-i, for example, has devoted all her energies to the research and development of Taiwanese costume. As a costume designer of the Ming Hwa Yuan Taiwanese Opera Company, she specializes in the combination of Oriental myths and Western fashion to create a series of works with a touch of Taiwanese culture.
 
In 2012, Wu incorporated the cultural elements of Hakka, Taiwan’s indigenous peoples, Taiwanese opera, and Taiwan’s traditional puppet theater into her creations. Last year, her wedding dresses, titled “Jin Xiu,” have successfully integrated Taiwanese traditional embroidery and Western-style design. Local beliefs in Mazu (Taiwanese Goddess of the Sea), Guan Yin (the Goddess of Mercy), and Nüwa (the Mother Goddess of Chinese mythology) are reflected in her innovative bridal gowns.
 
The designer’s shop at the Monga-Longshan Cultural & Creative B2 aims to share the ideas behind her production with international visitors and attract domestic young customers to appreciate the beauty of Taiwan’s traditional art and culture.

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Photo by LRM
Peng Tsai-hsun (right), Director of Waley Art, is commissioned by Taipei City's
Department of Cultural Affairs to take charge of the Monga-Longshan Cultural & Creative B2.

 
Sun Tsui-feng, the famous leading actress of the Ming Hwa Yuan Taiwanese Opera Company, set up a shop at the incubation base in June 2017. The aim of her first cultural and creative store is to showcase a wide range of the costumes, helmets, and hair ornaments that she wore in her Taiwanese opera performances.
 
Her store not only sells audio-video and customized products, but also provides a wide variety of experience programs, such as introduction to Taiwanese opera, makeup and costumes, Taiwanese opera figures, Taiwanese opera singing, and martial arts. These programs are designed to give participants a chance to experience Taiwanese opera with a cultural twist.
 
The number of visitors to the incubation base has doubled since Sun’s shop opened last year. Over the past year, the Monga-Longshan Cultural & Creative B2 has become an emerging sightseeing destination and cultural/creative base in Taipei’s Wanhua District.
 
Taipei Ching Ho Kuang Lion Dance Troupe, formerly known as Qingshan Temple Lion Dance Troupe, was founded by Wang Tou-chi in 1977 when he was the vice chairman of Monga Qingshan Temple. The temple, dedicated to the Lord of Green Mountains – also known as Ling An Tsun Wang – was designated as a grade-three national historic monument in 1985.
 
Wang Ching-ling and his elder brother Wang Ching-chung now are the backbone of Taipei Ching Ho Kuang Lion Dance Troupe. They learned their lion dancing skills from their grandfather, Wang Tou-chi.
 
The Wang brothers not only strived to ensure that the troupe’s traditions are passed down to future generations, but also helped bring the troupe to a global audience through performances in China, Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines. Their efforts led to the Ching Ho Kuang becoming the only overseas troupe to participate in the Japan National Lion Dance Carnival in 2011.
 
In August 2017, the troupe set up a shop at the incubation base to give participants a deep insight into the culture of Taiwan’s traditional temple fairs by providing a wide range of experience programs, including drum playing, lion dancing and facial makeup.
 
Four New Stores
 
Apart from Taiwan’s traditional art and culture, four new stores opened by young artists and designers in May 2018 will be a great addition to the incubation base. They include SEE Model & Performance Group, ArtiCollect, Karat Fingerboarding, and Fluxx Project.
 
“We plan to provide a host of backstage experience and DIY programs such as hair accessories and hat ornaments,” said Chih-siang, executive director of SEE Model & Performance Group. “Just as foreign tourists wear kimonos in Kyoto, visitors to the Monga-Longshan Cultural & Creative B2 will also have an opportunity to dress in traditional clothing of Taiwanese opera to take pictures in the future.”
 
ArtiCollect, founded by creative director and designer Sandy Yen in 2016, is a New Taipei City-based company centering on bamboo products. Graduating from Musashino Art University in western Tokyo, Yen has devoted all her energies to the application of bamboo in the design of jewelry, earrings and necklaces, as well as cultural and creative products.

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Photo by LRM
ArtiCollect is a New Taipei City-based company using bamboo for the design
of cultural and creative products.

 
Clark Lin founded his online shop “Karat Fingerboarding” in 2014. Fingerboarding is a sport where a player uses his fingers to manipulate a teeny skateboard. Like skateboarding, fingerboarding is recognized as a subculture in many countries, among them Taiwan.
 
In an effort to promote this finger sport, Lin decided to set up a store at the Monga-Longshan Cultural & Creative B2 to sell mini skateboards and fingerboarding-related products, thereby attracting young people in the Ximending shopping district.
 
Hong Yu-hao, Director of Fluxx Project, is a Wanhua-born digital artist. He held a photo exhibition, tilted “Bangka – River Terrain,” at the incubation base by using a drone to take photos of Xichang Street, also known as Herb Lane. His digital images aim to present the past, present and future of Taipei’s Wanhua area.

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Photo by LRM
Fingerboarding has become an emerging sport among Taiwanese youngsters.