Notes on the TACPS Cultural Petition to the 2024 Presidential Election

Notes on the TACPS Cultural Petition to the 2024 Presidential Election

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Notes on the TACPS Cultural Petition to the 2024 Presidential Election

On October 30, 2023, the Taiwan Association of Cultural Policy Studies (TACPS, 臺灣文化政策研究學會) released a cultural petition ahead of the 2024 Taiwanese elections. Produced in conjunction with the Foundation for Future Generations (青平台), the petition advocates for the implementation of five core strategies to advance Taiwan’s cultural sustainability and democratic governance within cultural policies. For Taiwanese policymakers, the petition is a vital road map for strengthening Taiwan’s cultural and creative industries and supporting Taiwanese creators; for researchers, the petition gives insight into the current state of Taiwan’s cultural ecosystem and the core issues of importance. 

Democratic Governance of Cultural Policy

To better understand the aims of this petition, it is helpful to place it into the context of Taiwan’s history of cultural policy decisions. “TACPS Cultural Petition to the 2024 Presidential Election: The Sustainability of Culture and Democratic Governance in Taiwan(hereafter referred to as the “2023 Petition”) is the culmination of four expert forums held in September 2023. The forums consisted of buy-in from many different attendees, “[converging] opinions from practitioners, academics and professionals in the areas of arts, culture, public policy, societal studies, economy, enterprises, heritage studies, architecture, design, urban planning, communication, technology, community regenerations, and labor conditions.” Similar to trends discussed in a previous GTB article on museum curation, Taiwan’s cultural policy practices—especially in comparison to those under martial law in Taiwan, which only lifted in 1987—have become more bottom-up and have allowed for more public participation. The 2023 Petition also praises Taiwan’s current “civil-activated model of participatory cultural governance, and cultural democracy” as being distinctive in Asia.

Beginning in 2000, conferences have been used as a way to consolidate opinions and influence official government policy. Scholars Tsai Hui-ju and Lin Yu-peng credit three international conferences held in Taiwan from 2000-2002 as “key moments for disseminating discourses relating to creative economies from Britain to Taiwan.” [1] While the first two conferences were organized by the British Council and non-governmental actors in Taiwan, the last of these three conferences—held following the announcement of Taipei’s Challenge 2008: National Development Plan (挑戰2008:國家發展重點計畫)—was co-organized by Taiwan’s Council for Cultural Affairs (CCA, 文化建設委員會). [2]

After 2002, the next cultural congress held by the government in order to consolidate public opinions regarding cultural policy occurred in 2017. Held under the Tsai Administration, the 2017 National Cultural Congress (2017全國文化會) aimed to address six main areas: cultural democracy, cultural creativity, cultural vitality, cultural viability, cultural tolerance, and cultural transcendence. While one motivation for holding the 2017 National Cultural Congress was to update Taiwan’s cultural policy to reflect advancements brought about by the internet, then-Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君) also expressed an intention to “reverse” previous administrations’ emphasis on economic development and the importance of creating policies from the bottom-up, in order to highlight the “democratization of culture.” Additionally, it was the first National Cultural Congress that was not invitation-only, and was open to public participation.

Following the 2017 National Cultural Congress, the government introduced the  文化基本法) in order to solidify continued democratic governance of culture. Among other things, the Act stipulates that the government must hold a National Cultural Congress every four years in order to “collect the opinions of all sectors, and map out national cultural development.” That same year, the Ministry of Culture also introduced the Regeneration of Historical Sites Policy (再造歷史現場), an initiative that addresses the “restoration, repurposing, [and] operational management” of historical sites while also considering the cultural significance and public memory linked with them. In 2019, the Ministry of Culture proposed the Culture Technology Policy Agenda (文化科技施政綱領), with the aim of using technology to enhance participation in and dissemination of culture.

Despite stated intentions to hold a National Cultural Congress every four years, the 2021 National Cultural Congress was delayed until 2022 due to the impact of COVID-19. Taking place over two days, the congress was also accompanied by four expert forums. Then-Minister of Culture Lee Yung-te (李永得) discussed some of his key takeaways upon the completion of the event, focusing mainly on the issue of “cultural sovereignty” in an age of digital streaming. [3] In addition to having forums on cultural digital communication and cultural technology, the congress demonstrated a strong interest in the integration and impact of technology. In contrast to the 2017 congress’ emphasis on democratic governance, Lee’s comments focus more on necessary structural changes such as talent cultivation and the government budget—although his comments on the lengthy process of collecting public input shows that democratic governance is still a vital part of the cultural policy. However, no new white paper was produced following the 2021-2022 National Cultural Congress. [4]

2023 Core Issues and Summary of Recommendations

Framing the entire petition under the theme of cultural sustainability, the 2023 Petition looks at cultural sustainability in five core areas: 1) democratic governance; 2) cultural economy and value cycle; 3) cultural assets and spatial redevelopment; 4) technology and communication;  and 5) conditions of artistic labor and local economy.

Cultural Sustainability and Democratic Governance

As noted in the previous section, the petitions’ first set of recommendations relates to democratic governance, which reflects a growing trend within Taiwan’s approach to cultural policy. The fact that democratic governance features prominently in the petition, just as it had during the 2017 congress, also makes sense as members of TACPS and the Foundation for Future Generations were key stakeholders in the 2017 National Cultural Congress. [5] The petition outlines several recommendations for protecting and enhancing public participation, including: enforcing evaluation mechanisms, adopting an evidence-based allocation of resources, centering governance on the cultural life cycle, restructuring cultural organizations, and establishing a National Cultural Policy Research Center. Although the Cultural Fundamental Act stipulates that a National Cultural Congress must be held every four years, there is still “no clear setup for the adoption of civilian opinions expressed during the Congress,” therefore more will need to be done to guarantee citizen participation and improve current processes. [6]

Sustainability of Cultural Economy and Value Cycle

Under the petition’s section regarding cultural economy and value cycle, the 2023 Petition calls for developing a sustainable cultural economy. Viewing cultural and creative industries through more of a economic lens, the petition recommends that the government adopt measures in several areas, including: treating culture as a public good; formulating a development strategy for medium, small, and micro industries; introducing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards in cultural strategies, and establishing a cultural impact evaluation system; cultivating cultural and creative talents; and supporting the inclusion of community civil organizations.

Cultural Assets and Spatial Redevelopment for Sustainability

Building upon the 2017 Regeneration of Historical Sites Policy, the 2023 Petition prioritizes government management of cultural assets by: prioritizing cultural asset preservation in land planning; ensuring that publicly-owned cultural assets are part of a national utilization plan; establishing sustainable development strategies to facilitate private sectors and administrative corporations to oversee this development; enhancing accessibility and ease of cultural asset donations; sustaining initiatives for privately-owned historic structures and enhancing associated regulatory limitations; instituting guidelines for cultural asset restoration and maintenance; broadening cultural asset education and its integration from a grassroots level; supporting the growth of fundamental research on cultural assets; and cultivating cultural asset professionals, who are provided with job security. Overall, the recommendations show an interest in aiding education, management, and professional growth associated with cultural assets—with a particular focus on private-public partnerships and job creation.

Cultural Technology and Cultural Communication Sustainability

Again, these recommendations build upon previous policy. The petition notes some of the shortcomings of the 2019 Culture Technology Policy Agenda, particularly in regards to shortcomings in developing infrastructure, difficulties that occur from Taiwan’s digital initiatives being spread between the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Digital Affairs, and the National Communications Commission, and a lack of coordination between the cultural and technology industries. To address these challenges, the petition advocates for: stable public infrastructure that cultural technology and communication can use as a foundation; a platform for cross-ministry collaboration; a platform for bridging the gap between technology and art; cultivating interdisciplinary talents; and using cultural technology for advancing public services and citizen engagement.

Improving Conditions of Artistic Labor and Local Economic Sustainability

This last section of the 2023 Petition addresses challenges of cultivating talent. The petition critiques the current “festivalization” of cultural policies—i.e. the tendency of festivals to be the platforms through which art and performances may gain exposure and legitimacy—as neglecting the well-being of artists, and cautions that art that is contract-driven can result in works that are repetitive and hinders the growth of art that requires longer production times. To combat these issues, the petition highlights the importance of networks that involve both the government and citizen organizations, restructuring of art centers’ operational models, and connecting local arts and culture with the regional economy. In short, the section both notes the drawbacks of having art being too profit-driven, while also pointing out that artists require more stability.


The petition represents several balancing acts that future cultural policy will have to navigate. Of these, possibly the most pressing one is related to balancing culture as an economic resource, versus as a creative one. Developing a sustainable cultural ecosystem is a long-term investment. While it is easier to focus on the issue from an economic perspective, in terms of both justifying it to the voters and quantifying the returns, this also can have negative effects on artistic innovation and creativity. Adding to this issue is the lack of continuity that could occur in the event of a change in power: particularly due to some partisan disagreements related to the definition of Taiwanese culture, and the fact that the process of democratically-governed culture policies gained momentum under the Tsai Administration. While Taiwan has made commendable progress in making the formation of cultural policy a bottom-up process, it will be important to solidify these advancements through the implementation of protective laws and clear implementation processes.

The main point: Regardless of which party comes to power after the elections, the new administration should continue Taiwan’s bottom-up method of cultural policy creation, while also focusing on core issues that have been raised through these public forums—especially relating to resource allocation, talent cultivation, and technology—to create a healthy cultural ecosystem that also has the capability to represent Taiwan on a global scale.

[1] Hui-ju Tsai and Yu-peng Lin, “Neoliberalised Development of Cultural Policies in Taiwan and a case of the Taiwanese Film Industry in a Creative Industries Model,” in The Routledge Handbook of Global Cultural Policy, eds. Victoria Durrer, Toby Miller, and Dave O’Brien (London: Routledge, 2017), 450.

[2] Ibid, 452.

[3] Cultural sovereignty refers to the act of using culture to assert claims of sovereignty, often done in the process of reclaiming cultural heritage following decolonization.

[4] Information provided to the author in an email correspondence with TACPS Executive Director Jerry Liu.

[5] TACPS Executive Director Jerry Liu (who was also a guest in our event titled “Assessing Taiwan’s Soft Power: Cultural Policy and its Implications Abroad”) was a co-organizer of the 2017 National Cultural Congress, and co-authored a paper assessing the 2017 congress. Additionally, the chairman of Foundation for Future Generations is Cheng Li-chun—the same minister of culture who had presided over the 2017 National Cultural Congress.

[6] Information provided to the author in an email correspondence with TACPS Executive Director Jerry Liu.