Montreal and Taipei: Sister Cities in the Arts

Montreal is a city that reeks of art.  Signs of a throbbing, swollen artistic community are manifest: performace spaces, artists’ lofts, happenings, experimental dance parties, school presentations, impromptu cabarets, and a healthy buffet of summer festivals.

Taipei is a kindred spirit living on the other side of the world, but in that Billy Eliott sort of way – the arts scene in Taipei has enourmous potential and enthusiasm, but it is wasting away in an usupportive environment and totally ignorant of what it is missing.

I meet so many college graduates who have gone against tradition and their parents wishes in order to study classical arts – the interesting thing is that they tell me that supporting modern Taiwanese art is their strategy towards introducing classical Chinese culture to the world.  The theory is that a culture that produces interesting work today has an interesting historical context.

There are some major exceptions.  I don’t see Canadian New Circus as being rooted in traditional Canadian culture, but then again, my collegue would tell me that a country as young as Canada or the USA can’t really claim to have a ‘traditional culture.’  Perhaps it is their hodgepodgymishmash of cultures that serves as a functional substitute.

Anyways, the young Taiwanese view of the arts as a way of entering into the conciousness of the rest of the world is a refreshing one.  Compared to Japan’s curmudgeonygrumpiness with respect to the arts, I feel like I am breathing fresh air in Taipei’s polluted, soupy summer.

It will change.  I feel like we are on a cusp of something great.  I hope it will all work out in the end.

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