The National Culture and Arts Foundation was founded in 1996 with the stated aim of creating a healthier environment in Taiwan for the development of culture and the arts. The NCAF also presents awards as part of its mission to seek to raise the bar for culture and the arts. The organization assists with the holding of art/cultural events, sponsors the work of arts/cultural organizations, awards grants to art/culture workers, and carries out the provisions of the Culture and Arts Reward Act.
The Council for Cultural Affairs, acting in accordance with The National Culture and Arts Foundation Founding Provisions remitted NT$6 billion to the NCAF as its initial capital. The NCAF has received other funding from private individuals and groups. The NCAF is led by a Board of Directors, who oversee the Fund’s operations as well as its budget, and is also served by a Board of Supervisors, who keep tabs on the Fund’s financial condition, to ensure that funds are being used in the most effective manner possible. Membership of these boards consists of individuals from the art world, scholars, experts, and government officials selected by the Ministry of Culture (successor organization to the Council for Cultural Affairs) and approved of by the Premier.
The NCAF provides grants, funding, and other assistance to individuals and non-profit organizations involved in literature, the visual arts, music, dance, traditional and contemporary theater, cultural heritage preservation, audio/video arts, and arts environment and development. The foundation also encourages the creation of innovative, groundbreaking, and experimental works that inform and reflect the zeitgeist.
The Foundation’s work is composed of four elements, namely, “research and development,” “grants,” “awards,” and “resource development.” The NCAF implements related policies and plans under the leadership of its chairman and at the direction of the Board of Directors. Those involved in R&D are focused primarily on creating links to relevant government departments and private concerns in the hope of garnering support from them in cash or kind. Those processing grants work to create an environment that nurtures the balanced development of culture and the arts, while those concerned with awards seek candidates displaying excellence throughout their oeuvre for the National Award for Arts. NCAF associates working on resource development solicit corporate sponsorship for art/cultural projects and provide artists, and the public at large, with information on what’s going on in the art world.
In sum, the NCAF works to maximize use of limited resources to create an environment that nurtures the arts and improves the quality of art being done in the Republic of China.
The Research and Development Department of the NCAF performs a variety of services for the organization, including developing new funding measures, forward-looking policies, and working toward the establishment of a think tank. In the main, the unit works on these areas:
．Organizational development and policy drafting
Plan out short-, medium-, and long-term policy goals for the NCAF in line with its statutory purposes, and work within the bounds of current cultural policy, legal amendments, the social environment, and trends in culture/the arts to revise the organization’s direction and approaches.
．Surveys on culture/the arts and research on funding policy
Analyze funding cases, determine the real-time needs of the culture/art world, and grasp trends forming among national cultural agencies and art/culture funding systems worldwide to determine how to improve the domestic funding system and craft a more effective funding policy.
．Strategies that will enliven the cultural environment
The NCAF supports a forward-looking artistic environment by developing innovative, effective programs that build value based on an analysis of trends, and by constructing a comprehensive support system for the development of culture and the arts. These efforts include helping culture workers form social enterprises, and helping corporations employ cultural creativity to improve their competitiveness and create new value in conjunction with those in the cultural sphere.
Research and development for the NCAF involves collaboration among government, industry, and academia. The collective efforts of government departments, academics, private organizations, artists, and cultural workers have paid off in a myriad of achievements. These include many successfully funded cases, as well as theme and survey research projects. Other examples include innovative partnerships between Taiwan’s modern artists, corporations, and cultural creators and between Taiwan’s modern artists and corporations or social groups, as well as research and reporting on the state of affairs of culture and the arts and trends shaping them. This accumulated knowledge has resulted in the formulation of innovative strategies that serve the sustained operation of the NCAF. It is also beneficial to the NCAF in its work to distribute grants and publish research results, and helps nurture development of culture and the arts.
The NCAF has striven to employ subsides in a way that reflects the arts and cultural milieu of Taiwan. The NCAF makes the best use of its limited funds in accordance with the arm’s length principle, while respecting the development needs of the arts community. The NCAF holds annual symposia for arts practitioners to apprise them of the latest funding application procedures as well as recent evolutions in the arts. It has also established an online platform providing information on grants for the arts.
The NCAF accepts applications for regular grants twice annually. Grants are awarded for literature, the visual arts, music, dance, traditional and contemporary theater, cultural heritage preservation, audio/video arts, and arts environment and development. The NCAF supports innovative and forward-looking arts productions and presentations, international cultural exchanges, and specialized lectures and research on the arts.
Project grants are geared toward funding those areas of culture and the arts whose development is deemed urgent or significant.
The NCAF offers strategic project grants noted for having specific goals, a limited number of recipients, and high levels of funding. Recipients are provided with ample funding and time in which to complete their works, and are able to tap into a broad range of expertise and resources in creating and presenting their pieces.
C. Projects for International Arts Networks Development
Since 2015, the National Culture and Arts Foundation has worked with experienced art professionals to build up several international-networking platforms for performing arts, visual arts, literature, and documentary. Through integrating resources, co-working and sharing, NCAF expects to assist talented and emerging artists and art groups to take part on the world stage, and to foster the arts development of Taiwan.
．Pursuit of Excellence in Performing Arts
Goals: Help performing arts groups and artists elevate production quality through a project that begins with an open call for proposals. With high levels of funding, an extensive production period, and other support being made available, recipients are expected to present quality works that will inspire the overall improvement of the performing arts.
This program was begun in 2003, and has been implemented by the NCAF with the help of the National Securities and Financial Group (NSFG) Foundation. This was the first grant program the NCAF oversaw that brought together the arts and the private sector. Through 2012, the program had provided grants to 25 productions, arranged for troupes to perform on larger stages than they had previously appeared on, and helped several groups launch internationally. For 2012-2015, comprising the fourth stage of this program, not only will high-quality productions be supported, but a broader variety of grants will be issued to encourage troupes to map out a three-year development plan based on their own objectives and fortes.
．Young Stars, New Vision
Goals: To provide resources and a channel by which recent graduates and young practitioners of the performing arts may share their creativity beyond campus, the NCAF has established a program that offers promising candidates rehearsal space, consultations, idea exchanges, and presentation opportunities, so as to help them further develop their professional skills. The program is open to proposals from diverse art forms, including dance, individual performances, multimedia applications, cross-disciplinary works, original script writing, and adaptations of classics. The emerging artists supported under this program are thus empowered to realize their ideas on stage. Since its launch in 2008, the program has supported 36young artists, who have created 52 works. Many of them have gone on to have their works performed at well-regarded arts venues, such as the Venice Biennale, the World Dance Alliance Global Summit, and the Seoul Fringe Festival.
．Glove Puppetry Production and Presentation
Goals: To encourage glove puppetry troupes to engage in cross-disciplinary performances by inviting outside playwrights and directors on board to create new works suitable for presenting at temple fairs, with the goal of reviving this traditional art form. For each round of funding, three troupes are selected based on their proposed scripts and production teams and tasked with producing and presenting new works. Selected troupes have also bolstered their administrative and marketing capabilities with guidance from the NCAF.
Funding for this program comes from Ting Hsin International Group and Wei Chuan Food Corp. and is now in its second round. To date, six troupes have received funding to put on six shows.
．Overseas Arts Travel
Goals: Encourage young artists to expand their horizons and enhance their professionalism through gaining experience overseas. This, in turn, will increase their artistic capabilities, and infuse new life into Taiwan’s artistic innovation and competitiveness.
Funded by Kuang Chuan Dairy Co., Ltd., the program encourages young artists pursuing their dreams in the performing arts, visual arts, literature, and audio/video production to go abroad to attend international arts events, visit arts groups, and learn new techniques. Held for the first time in 2013, the project supported 15 artists’ trips abroad. Upon their return, grant recipients visited schools, communities, independent bookstores, and other arts and cultural venues to share what they had learned.
．Performing Arts Critics
Goals: To stimulate critical discourse on the performing arts in Taiwan and to cultivate new performing arts critics, the NCAF encourages critical writing by offering funds and an online platform for sharing criticisms. The grants encourage critics to continue writing over the long term, in hopes of propelling the maturation of the performing arts sector.
The program, launched in 2014, funded 10 arts writers, both young and seasoned, who penned commentaries on music, dance, theater, and cross-disciplinary performances.
．Novel Writing and Publishing
Goals: To encourage writers to craft new novels, enliven novel publishing in Taiwan, and generate extensive commentaries, the program provides living expenses to writers, and assists with publishing and promoting their works. Since the program’s implementation in 2003, 39 projects have been selected, and 22 novels published. Among these, 11 have won domestic or international awards for literature. For the years 2013 to 2015, the program is being co-funded by Pegatron Corp.
．Learning through Arts — Arts Education
Goals: Support arts groups’ collaboration with schoolteachers on developing creative curriculum that will encourage children to learn about and experience the arts, and ultimately inspire their creativity.
This program has been sponsored by the Simbalion Company since its inception in 2003. In 2011, Win Sing Corp. signed on as a co-sponsor. Under this program, arts troupes are encouraged to bring tailored courses to schools and train teachers in their instruction to infuse school time with energy and innovation. Through 2014, 48 arts groups had received grants and implemented 58 plans, with 90 elementary and middle schools benefiting from this program.
．Production Grants to Independent Curators in Visual Arts
Goals: To advance the development and integration of art theory and creation and exhibition, the NCAF helps independent curators collaborate with presenters and hold themed exhibitions that highlight a wide variety of contemporary art topics. Selected curators have gained practical experience by planning out and executing high quality exhibitions.
Since 2004, an open request has been held to select curators with creative proposals. In 2012, to encourage curators to engage in curatorial practice abroad and expand their international connections, the program was held in conjunction with Hong Kong’s 1a space gallery and Tokyo WonderSite. Thanks to these partnerships, grant recipients were able to travel overseas to conduct curatorial research and exchanges. Spring Foundation and F.C.H. Investment Corp. have been co-sponsors since 2012. Through 2014, the project has provided grants to 32 curators carrying out 34 exhibitions both in Taiwan and abroad.
．Curator's Incubator Program at Museums
Goals: Foster promising curators for the visual arts and provide opportunities for them to expand their horizons while improving the quality of domestic exhibitions.
For the years 2010 through 2013, this project was held in conjunction with Hong-Gah Museum of Chew’s Culture Foundation. This program taps into the wealth of expertise to be found at museums to further train curators. Nine curators have been presented grants to hold nine exhibitions. Starting in 2013, the Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei and the Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts have also participated, giving curators more spaces to realize their ideas. Funding is provided to up to three curators every two years. In addition to grants, recipients also enjoy internships at these museums and are admitted to workshops that help them develop their curatorial skills.
Goals: To encourage the filming of original, experimental documentaries that are timely, have lasting value, and tackle social issues, and to increase the visibility of quality productions that show excellence in both aesthetic sense and production technique, the program stems from 2003’s Audiovisual Media Program. After collaboration with Public Television Service Taiwan was launched in 2010, it became a permanent program. Since its inception, this program has provided grants to 34 directors who have produced 40 documentaries, many of which have participated in documentary film exhibits like the Nyon International Documentary Film Festival in Switzerland, the Yufuyin Cinema Festival in Japan, the Taipei Film Festival, the Taiwan International Documentary Film Festival, and the South Taiwan Film Festival. Many have also won accolades at the Taipei Film Festival, Golden Bell Awards, and Golden Harvest Awards.
．Taiwanese Opera Production and Presentation
Goals: Since 2003, the NCAF has been promoting the writing of new scripts, musical arrangement, cultivation of directors, and productions of Taiwanese opera that are suitable for temple fairs. For each round of funding, three of the highest quality scripts and performing troupes are selected. Grants allow for the creation and performance of new works, with the NCAF providing assistance in the areas of administration and marketing.
Seven rounds of funding have been held over 10 years, 21 new Taiwanese operas have been produced. These productions are innovative but remain true to their roots as temple fair theater, and have been performed over 200 times all around Taiwan. Since 2011, the program has received sponsorship from Integrate Investment Corp.
．Online Performing Arts Review
This online platform was founded in 2011 with the sponsorship of the NSFG Foundation and Reliable Source Industrial Corp. The platform provides up-to-date, extensive commentaries on the performing arts written by both young and seasoned critics, as well as reviews submitted by the public. To date, over 1,200 articles have appeared on the website, which has been visited over 35 million times.
．Tung Ho Steel Artists in Residence
Goals: Forge tighter connections between artists and businesses, improve the domestic environment for the arts, and encourage creativity. Provide artists expressing themselves in steel with an abundance of resources and explore new avenues for cooperation between the arts community and businesses.
Started in 2008 in conjunction with Tung Ho Steel Enterprise Corp., this was the first NCAF project under which grants came in kind instead of as a monetary package. This artist in residence program gave participants access to work space, materials, and tools provided by Tung Ho. Technicians were also on hand to help artists realize their creations, which were then exhibited in place. Through 2011, six artists had participated in this program, and 220 works had been created using some 146.6 tons of steel, or the equivalent of 146 cars.
．Technology and Arts Creation Presentation
Goals: In light of a trend toward working with technology as an artistic medium, provide artists employing new technologies access to sufficient resources and encourage the exhibition of their works.
The Qiu Zaixing Cultural Foundation, the Acer Foundation, and the Lite-on Cultural Foundation are all program sponsors. The NCAF and Hong-gah Museum, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, and Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts co-hosted this traveling exhibition. Further sponsorship for promotional activities was provided by Shiseido Taiwan and Integrate Investment Corp. Three exhibitions were held between 2004 and 2008, with 17 works presented.
The National Culture and Arts Foundation began awarding the National Award for Arts in 1997 to reward artists who have displayed excellence throughout their oeuvre in the areas of literature, fine art, music, theater, dance, architecture, or film. The Award is held in esteem among the domestic art community, and is the nation’s highest award for the arts.
A variety of activities lead up to the award ceremony for the National Award for Arts and the publication of a volume on winners’ works. These connect artists with the general public, and inform people about the artists’ accomplishments, both personal and professional. Among these efforts, a campus artist residency program is held and work is done to bring the arts back into schools. Meanwhile, a series of lectures by the artists is held in conjunction with National Chiao Tung University, allowing students, teachers, and the public to get a better understanding of the motivation and inspiration that drives these artists to excel.
The NCAF takes a twofold approach to developing new sources of funding through corporate sponsorship. These aim to increase society’s support for artists, while ensuring sufficient resources to support the arts.
I. Arts and Business Partnerships
The NCAF acts as a matchmaker bringing the resources of the private sector together with the creativity of Taiwan’s talented artists. Since 2003, it has employed targeted donations as its major fundraising tactic. The NCAF first brainstorms projects, then holds auditions for artists interested in participating in them, and seeks corporate sponsorship of them. The Friends of NCAF program has broadened the corporate funding base, and means that those in the arts world enjoy better service, and a number of projects have been carried off successfully under this framework.
．Friends of NCAF
Established in February 2004, the Friends of NCAF program encourages professional communication and matching corporate resources with artistic ventures. Creative partnerships are then established based on both parties’ needs. In February 2013, Friends of the NCAF in Central Taiwan was established to better coordinate cooperation with enterprises in that region.
The NCAF moreover holds a variety of regular activities that allow Friends of the NCAF to experience art firsthand. Among these are symposia and luncheons where partnership opportunities are explored.
The NCAF drafts grants for all manner of performing and visual art. Some cover production costs, including Projects include the Pursuit of Excellence in Performing Arts, Novel Writing and Publishing, Production Grants to Independent Curators in Visual Arts, Taiwanese Opera Production and Presentation, Glove Puppetry Production and Presentation; some focus on promoting completed works, such as Pop Up; others cultivate artist potential, such as the Curator’s Incubator Program at Museums, and the Overseas Arts Travel; while still others involve garnering in-kind support from the private sector, such as Learning through Arts—Arts Education and the Tung Ho Steel Artists in Residence Program.
．NCAF Co-branded Credit Card
The NCAF has teamed up with Taihsin International Bank to offer customers a co-branded card. For every transaction made with the card, 0.2 percent of the purchase price goes to the NCAF, which uses it to increase the grants it makes to arts/cultural groups. Cardholders, meanwhile, enjoy discounts on tickets to performances by a number of art/cultural groups.
II. Art News
The NCAF publishes information on its policies and services on the Web and other media, while also publicizing the work of artists around the country.
．NCAF Website (http://www.ncafroc.org.tw/)
On the NCAF website, the organization posts information related to its services and accomplishments. The website is also the interface for groups to apply for grants. Here, the arts community can also post their performance schedules and personnel want ads. The NCAF also utilizes Youtube, Facebook and other social media to broadcast messages to the largest audience possible.
．NCAF e-Magazine (http://www.ncafroc.org.tw/mag/)
The Friends of NCAF sponsors publication of the e-magazine “NCAF Online,” whose first publication was in July 2012. Cover stories are tied to the current activities of the NCAF, and features include “Meeting of Creative Stars,” “Recommended,” “Checking In Overseas,” “Journey with the Arts,” “Corporate-Arts Partnerships,” “Spotlight On…,” and “International Hotspots.” The NCAF Report, meanwhile, covers the organization’s activities.
．Art and Business Website (http://www.anb.org.tw )
The Friends of the NCAF sponsored the establishment of the Art and Business website. The site is an online platform for information about corporate partnerships with the arts, which is shared through feature stories, columns, and a database. In-depth reportage and analysis shines light on trends affecting partnerships.