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Who is my boss? Exploring the role of an emerging artist in a capital of culture and creativity

Authors: Kristina Karvelyte*, Ming Chuan University
Topics: Urban Geography, Asia, Social Geography
Keywords: culture-led regeneration, urban cultural policy, emerging artists, cultural labour, Taipei
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper looks at the ways in which emerging artists in Taipei understand, experience and reflect on their relationship with the government amid culture-led urban regeneration. In light of the so-called ‘cultural turn’ (Zukin, 1995) in urban development, the pledge of support for emerging artists has become a common theme featured in the cultural policy agenda of many cities across the globe, all pursuing the title(s) of ‘cultural city’ and/or ‘creative city’. As a result, emerging artists now have more opportunities to develop, grow, and present their work. However, these opportunities are unlikely to come with no strings attached. In Taipei – the city, which once proudly declared itself the ‘Capital of Chinese culture and creativity’ – government institutions are main funding sources, contractors and employers of most local artists (Wang, 2003; Chiu and Lin, 2014). Drawing on interviews with performing and visual artists, cultural intermediaries, and policy makers in Taipei, this study unveils covert exploitation of emerging artists for political purposes. In addition, it also exposes the limitations inadvertently imposed on their freedom of expression and creativity through certain funding guidelines and assessment standards. A critical inquiry into the ways in which artists are affected by the increased policymakers’ interest in culture, provides new insights into the impact and implications of culture-led regeneration on the actual cultural development of cities.

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