Taiwan's Arts Administration Training

The training of arts/cultural administrators in Taiwan is related to the development of Taiwan’s arts/cultural administration and the centralized system of the government. In this top-down system, the government has long played a leading role in the development of arts/cultural policies and enterprises. The Constitution of the Republic of China (Taiwan), established in 1946, Chapter 13, Section Five: Education and Culture, Article 164, 165 and 166 describes the basic principles for promoting arts/cultural enterprises. Article 164 says that:

Funds earmarked for education, science, and culture shall be, in respect of the Central government, not less than 15% of the total national budget; in respect of the Provincial government, not less than 25% of the total Municipal or County budget. Educational and cultural foundations established in accordance with law, and their property shall be protected (the Council of Cultural Affairs, 1995, p. 22-23).
Both central and local governments have been given authority over the major/large arts institutions. Moreover, the responsibility for promoting arts activities as well as training professional staff is also held by governmental agencies.

The first stage of the development of a modern cultural policy for Taiwan relates to the years 1949-1975—from the year that the government of the Republic of China fled to Taiwan to the death of Chiang Kai-shek, its first president. During these years the cultural/arts activities were used as propagandas to enhance the struggle of “against Chinese Communists,” and as tools of social education to educate citizens and to stabilize the society (The Council of Cultural Affairs, 1998). The duties of cultural affairs were assigned to several branches of the government: the Ministry of Education and the Government Information Office in the Central government, the Ministry of National Defense, and the fourth division of Kaomintang (KMT) regime, the only political party at that time. The government controlled most arts/cultural facilities, includes several Social Education Halls (established in1953), National Museum of History (established in 1956), the National Taiwan Arts Education Institute (established in 1957), the National Museum of Natural Science (established in 1958), National Palace Museum (established in 1965), and the National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall (established in 1972). Additionally, the government also held the authority to appoint administrators to manage those public arts/cultural organizations.

In the public sector, civil servants functioned as arts managers. Because of the education mission of those public cultural organizations and the fact that their supervisory agencies were the Ministry of Education (National) or the Department of Education (city/county government), most cultural administrators had backgrounds in education, history, or literature. Before they were assigned as curators or arts/cultural administrators, most of them had experience in political or educational administration. Their duties evolved from those related to political concerns to educational concerns, and finally to artistic/cultural considerations.

In the private sector, arts were family businesses and were “managed” by leaders of those families, who worked to keep sound relations with temples and the government. During this period, 1949-1975, private traditional arts managers tended to be trained from their work experience and often had an arts background. Actors, musicians, and production crews of Taiwanese opera or puppetry companies were often from the same family. Usually the oldest male was the boss, artistic director and general manager of the organization. Their sons or daughters grew up, worked, and learned in the companies virtually from childhood. There was a teacher and disciple relationship in those companies. Modern performing arts organizations, such as Cloud Gate Dance Theater was an exception. Hwai-Min Lin used his private resources to establish his dance company. He has academic training in the arts, literature and dance background, but learned to manage his organization through work. As his companies grew, he was forced to deal with more complex situations, and paid more attentions to managerial side of his organization.

The Council of Cultural Affairs (CCA), established in 1981, is the first organization responsible for arts and cultural affairs under the Central government. The establishment of this council also accelerated the demand for training arts/cultural administrators. The mission of CCA is to plan, promote, coordinate and evaluate programs pertaining to the Cultural affairs of the Republic of China (The Council of Cultural Affairs, 1999). In the first decade, the CCA focused on four areas: preserving cultural heritage, promoting various arts activities, developing local cultural centers, and analyzing issues in cultural development (The Council of Cultural Affairs, 1991). Each area involved private participation and localization at different levels. The CCA’s accomplishments were in the areas of advocating the Preserving Cultural Heritage Act, increasing arts audiences, establishing local cultural centers, and suggesting as well as organizing a long-term plan for Taiwan’s cultural development.

In its second decade, the CCA gradually changed its role. While initially the CCA had produced many cultural activities to educate and encourage residents to enjoy arts, in its second decade, the CCA assisted, supported, and sponsored cultural activities rather than directly producing them. The concept of community was emphasized, the significance of local cultural centers/councils was increased, the concept of training volunteers as well as arts administrators was highlighted, more cultural related regulations were set, more international exchange was encouraged, the National Arts and Cultural Foundation was established, and cultural related web pages were built.

The next significant development in the Taiwanese arts/cultural industry has occurred in the last 20years, especially after the termination of Martial Law in 1987. More freedom of expression, arts activities, private arts organizations, and the establishment of private arts/cultural foundations—all are signs of a growing involvement by the private sector. The control of cultural enterprises has gradually shifted from the Central government to local governments or to the private sector. The demand for training arts administrators now comes not only from the government, but also from the rapidly changing world of Taiwan’s arts administration.

Reviewing of Taiwan’s development in the area of arts administration, one finds that viewing arts administration as a profession is a relatively recent phenomenon. The concept of formal training of arts administrators is also a new notion in Taiwan. The following paragraphs will focus on training courses, including single/short-term courses and university-based arts administration programs which have developed to meet the changing needs of Taiwan’s cultural institutions.

The training of arts administrators and curators in the visual arts was the first area to develop as a result of the preparation, planning, and rebuilding of the National Palace Museum (NPM) in Taipei, 1965 (NPM, 1999). Training for performing arts administrators was not emphasized until the ‘80s. The development of arts administrators in the area of performing arts was related to the establishment of the Council of Cultural Affairs (1981) and the beginning of construction of the Cultural Facility in 1977 (Kuo, 1992).
The first graduate museum study program was established at the National Taiwan Normal University in 1957. It was a program supported by the National Palace Museum, the National Museum of History, and the National Library. The Chinese Cultural University also had a museum studies graduate program in its history department in 1968 (Sue, 2001). Those programs emphasized preservation, registration, and cataloguing of historical objects, but did not consider the managerial perspectives of museums.
The Examination Yuan (Branch) created the test of “Library and Museum Administrative Program” in the National Examination in 1962. Public museum professionals have been civil servants since that time (Sue, 2001). Yet few people passed the examination or had training from universities. Most staff members depended for training on their experiences. The test for “Culture Administration” in the National Examination was set later, around 1981. The purpose of the examination was to select sound administrators to operate public arts/cultural organizations. People were required to have knowledge of art/cultural history to pass the examination. People passing the examination might be assigned to city or county cultural centers or museums. Most positions were with public arts organizations and, after being hired, the administrator received anywhere from several weeks to 3 months of training (depending on the organization) before starting to work.

The success of the Shin-Shiang Arts Agency, the first private arts booking company and held the first International Arts Festival in Taiwan, in the beginning of the 1980s encouraged students with arts or business backgrounds to study arts administration abroad, especially in the United States. After graduation, these students returned to Taiwan, bringing new concepts and business/managerial skills to Taiwan’s arts organizations. Yet the training that the students received in foreign countries was seldom specifically related to Taiwan’s social-cultural values, regulations, funding system, or corporation situation. Students had to adapt and transfer what they learned after they came back to Taiwan. Also, the cost of getting arts administration training in foreign countries was usually very expensive.

A less expensive and time consuming method for developing skills could be found through workshops sponsored since 1984 by the Council of Cultural Affairs. These workshops were designed to train staff of cultural centers including librarians, museum staff members, and staff of theater (The Council of Cultural Affairs, 1991). Most courses focused on the technical aspects of productions or the artistic side of exhibitions. Very few courses were concerned with the managerial tasks of cultural centers. These training courses changed after 1988. Artistic programming, education and promotion, the development of volunteers, and audience research through surveys began to appear as the topics of workshops (The Council of Cultural Affairs, 2000).

The first course in arts administration in Taiwan—Arts Management--was taught in 1987 by Kung-Shan (Scott) Ling at the National Institute of the Arts. It was a required course for all undergraduates. The president of the university, Yo-Yu Bao, believed that students with background in the arts were better prepared for careers in arts administration than others; therefore, he encouraged students developing their administrative senstiblities through a basic arts administration course (Ling, 2000). Ling has a bachelor’s degree in social education, with an emphasis in library science. He obtained his master’s degree in history from the Chinese Cultural University, with a specialty in the registration of historical objects. He passed the National Examination for cultural administrators in 1986. His course was particularly focused on issues related to museums/visual arts administration. The course included the basic concepts of planning, personnel management, financial management, cultural regulations, cultural polices, and structures of cultural ministry from various countries.

Administration and Management of the Arts, the second course of arts administration at the undergraduate level, was offered by Nei-Doun Kuo in 1987/88 in the music department at the Chinese Cultural University. Kuo, who owns a computer music company, holds a bachelor degree in music, a master degree in Chinese history, and attended business management courses for a while in the United States. As an artist, Kuo recognized that the survival of arts organizations is challenged by limited resources. In his class and in his publications, he described the funding system for arts in Taiwan, and provided step-by-step guidelines to teach artists how to apply for funding. Planning and organization were emphasized. The concept of arts as product was introduced. Special governmental regulations related to arts administration were mentioned, and practical cases were discussed. The appendices of his book also included a brief introduction to arts administration programs in the United States (Kuo, 1992). After Kuo published his book in 1992, it became the most useful reference book for preparing for the National Examination, especially for performing arts administrators. Under the influence of Kuo, some students started to operate their own arts organizations using his publication as a basic guide. Other students became interested in studying arts administration in the United States.

In 1992, the CCA began a program to encourage administrators of the public cultural organizations to study abroad (the Council of Cultural Affairs, 1999). The purpose was to gain knowledge and to increase professional skills by learning from foreign countries. Applicants were required to propose a research project. If selected, the CCA provided funding for applicants to live and research for 3-6 months. Since 1992, 35 Taiwanese public arts administrators have studied abroad in countries such as the United States, Japan, and Britain. The research projects covered a variety of issues, such as cultural policies, the operation of city/county cultural centers, museum education, museum volunteers, and exhibition.
In 1994, a workshop called Facility and Equipment Management of Cultural Centers” was held by the CCA. Courses in this workshop dealt with subjects including the process of buying new equipment, financial management, budgets, safety, maintenance, sanitary problems in the centers, and constructional regulations (the Council of Cultural Affairs, 2000). The training was significantly different with the former courses, which only focused on technical and artistic sides. A series of Workshops and Conferences of Performing Arts Administrators were held by the CCA from 1995 to 1996 (Den, 1997). At these workshops, the CCA invited arts administrators and experts in this field to lecture to the participants. The topics included the environment of arts industry, marketing, regulations, and case studies. The purpose was to share experiences, introduce strategies from foreign countries, and build professional knowledge in this field. Many participants thought the training was useful. There were probably many similar workshops held by various organizations during this period, but information /documentation is not complete.

In 1999, funding became available for arts administrators not connected to government controlled institutions to study overseas. The National Culture and Arts Foundation (NCAF), a public foundation established in 1994 and monitored by the CCA, began making grants for arts activities and organizations. Private arts administrators who have had full-time positions in arts organizations for at least three years are eligible to apply for funding to support the study of arts administration in the United States for 3-6 months. This opportunity includes pratical work experience with arts organizations in the United States (NCAF, 1999). The Foundation has recognized the need to educate arts administrators, and to supports practical experience which helps arts administrators to learn in intensive settings.

Also in 1999, the Taiwan Museum of Art and the National Arts Institution started certificate programs which assist arts administrators (in-service) to continue their professional training and education. The demand for those short-term programs is considerable, given the facts that competition for entering university-based programs is intense, and arts administrators currently in the field need immediate training to assistant them to deal with new challenges. These short-term programs do not award degrees, and if degrees are required for promotions, arts administrators will still need to seek university-based training.

Graduate programs of arts administration in universities have been promoted only since the middle of the 1990s. The b> of 1997 included arts administration education as a category of arts education. This act had the effect of accelerating the establishment of graduate arts administration programs in Taiwan. Taiwan has five arts administration/museum study programs at the graduate level; they are Museum Study at the Tainan National College of Arts, Graduate Institute of Aesthetics and Art Management at the Nanhua University, Visual Arts Administration at the Yuan-Ze University, Arts Management at the Taipei National University of the Arts, and Institute of Arts Management at the National Sun Yat-sen University.

Tainan National College of Arts established the first museology program in Taiwan in 1996. The school is located at Tainan county’s Kuantain Township, in the southwest area of Taiwan. The museology program employs four full-time faculty members, three part-time faculty members, and accepts 15 students each academic year (TNCA, 2001). The mission of this program is to cultivate museum professionals who will promote Taiwan’s museum industry and development. The program is designed to help students to understand the role that museums play in Taiwan’s society and trends in museum development in the global environment. (TNCA, 2001). Students are required to finish 39 credit hours including six credits of thesis research in two to four years. Students must pass the English proficiency test, take an internship course, pass the qualify examination, pass the subject tests, and successfully defend their thesis to obtain their degrees. The program is designed to meet the needs of both in-service museum training and the training of new administrators (TNCA, 2001).

The Graduate Institute of Aesthetics and Art Management located at Nanhua University was built in 1997, and started to recruit students in 1998. The institute is located at Chiayi County’s Dalin Township, south west of Taiwan. The program accepts 15 students each year (NHU, 2001). The institute is located in the College of Art, and collaborates extensively with other disciplines, including the colleges of liberal arts, social sciences, and management. The goal of the institute is to “cultivate students who will be highly proficient in aesthetics and the management of cultural and artistic affairs, and to develop art and cultural affairs managers who will be imbued with both a traditional spirit of the humanities and a modern attitude toward management” (NHU, 2001). Students are required to take 32 credit hours in order to graduate.

The Graduate Program for Visual Arts Administration at the Yuan-Ze University was established in 1999. Yuan-Ze University is located at Taoyuan Hsien, Chung-Li county, north of Taiwan, one hour by car from Taipei City. The program accepts 10 students each year, and has two full-time faculty members as well as four part-time faculty members (YZU, 2001). The program stresses “the balance between an understanding of the visual arts, the ideas and forces affecting them, and the development of keen management, marketing and financial skills” (YZU, 2001). Students are required to take 56 credit hours in order to graduate. Knowledge of art history is required and emphasized in this program. In 1999, the university established a Humanities and Arts Center, which provides practical opportunities for students to plan the exhibitions and artistic programs in this center.

The Graduate School of Arts Management at the Taipei National University of the Arts began to recruit students in 2000. The Taipei National University of the Arts is located at Taipei city, in the northern part of Taiwan. The university is approximately 30 minutes from downtown Taipei. This program has two full-time faculty members, five part-time faculty members, and accepts 15 students each year (the National Institute of the Arts, 2000). The program is the first program in the country to emphasize performing arts management, including the disciplines of dance, theater, music, and traditional arts. The mission of the program is to prepare advanced arts administrators in the performing arts. Most of the students have arts administration or arts related work experience before they enter the program. The faculty members of the program are key leaders in the performing arts field and most of them have practical experience in operating arts organizations. The program also established a partnership with the College of Business at the National Chengchi University. The marketing and management courses are provided by the National Chengchi University (the Taipei National University of the Arts, 2002). Students are required to take 36 credit hours to graduate.

The Institute of Arts Management Graduate Program at the National Sun Yat-sen University began to recruit students in April 2001. The university is located in the south of Taiwan, 20 minutes from Kaohsiung City. The program accepts 15 students each year (NSYSU, 2002). The university has one full-time faculty member and four part-time faculty members. The program emphasizes management of the performing arts and plans to make use of the resources of Kaohsiung to become the major training centers for arts administrators in the south area of Taiwan. Students are required to take 36 credit hours plus an addition six credits of thesis to graduate (NSYSU, 2002). The program has multi-discipline curriculum combining courses provided by the College of Management with an emphasis on internship experiences which provide students with practical work in arts organizations which may be either domestic or foreign.
In conclusion, it is clear that the professionalization of arts/culture administrators has been associated with the development of Central government in Taiwan. The establishment of graduate programs to train much needed professionals is the result of the Arts Education Act of 1997. Through this brief review of the history of the development of arts administration in Taiwan, several training formats can be found. These include learning through experience, learning through preparing for the National Examination, workshops/conferences/seminars, studying overseas (short-term), foreign university-based arts administration programs (including undergraduate and graduate programs), domestic university-based undergraduate/single course, and domestic university-based graduate programs. With the growth of arts institutes and enterprises, the need for professional arts/cultural administrators is emphasized and professional training is also required. Arts/cultural administrators in Taiwan today typically have arts related background and many have received formal arts administration training in other foreign countries. Taiwan’s arts administration training is transferring from self-trained to academic trained arts administrators. All curriculum and preparation of arts/cultural administration will assist administrators whether experienced or inexperienced to meet new challenges in the 21st first century, and to handle limited resources effectively, efficiently, and entrepreneurially.


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Author/Source: A report by our reporter from Taipei/Taiwan, Mrs. Shang-Ying Chen
Management Topic: Job & Training
Cultural Area: General
Submitted by editor-in-chief on Sep 23, 2002