From the Mayor of Tainan City—Using Art to Consolidate Hope
The annual Tainan Arts Festival first launched in 2012. In 2019, the festival welcomed in a series of new changes and formats. Perhaps one of the biggest changes was the invitation of independent curators to oversee the festival’s themes, commissions, and performance groups. By using the city’s urban spaces and historical sites as the foundation for experimental art creations, the festival went on to establish a more intimate dialogue with citizens and communities, in the end creating an urban art festival that could trigger historical, cultural, and emotional connections.
The Tainan Arts Festival stands apart from other art festivals in that it benefits from being held in a cultural mecca, with artistic explorations, discoveries, and creations available on almost every city corner. The theme of 2020’s festival is Encounter—Here and Now and focuses on the power of art to assemble and connect. It invites Taiwan’s top performing art groups to bring their work and creativity to Tainan and to engage in a variety of “encounters” with the public. Similarly, artist-in-residence creations look to help inspire creativity in communities and to nourish the connection between art and public life.
Tainan Arts Festival 2020 features a total of 13 performances, two work-in-progress productions, one touring exhibition, and five open-air workshops and seminars. A wide variety of performance types are also present: promenade theatre, site-specific, classic/traditional, technology assisted, community curation, etc. While viewing these performances or participating in these events, the public will have abundant opportunities to roam and expose themselves to Tainan’s urban geography, through which they may recollect the past, or look ahead to the future; or they are free to engage in fruitful dialogues, grounded in the experience of the moment, with local inhabitants or travelers from Taiwan or abroad; or perhaps they may choose to enter the fantastical space of theatrical productions and join content creators on a journey full of imagination, yet one grounded in real-world questions.
Most of the first half of 2020 was overshadowed by the pandemic and nearly all performances in Taiwan were either postponed or cancelled. As we enter the second half of 2020, for the Tainan Arts Festival to put together such a multifaceted festival in terms of content and themes is a truly impressive feat. Among the turmoil and uncertainty of the times, we still believe that art has the power to bring people together. By using creativity to respond to our current situation, in the midst of these “encounters” we can rediscover the power of hope. I warmly invite everyone to join us at Tainan Arts Festival 2020 and find their own “encounters” with art and our city.
HUANG Wei-che, Tainan City Mayor