Taichung mayor apologizes to Paper Windmill Theatre after canceled shows

Mayor Lu Shiow-yen expresses regret over misunderstanding about show organization

Paper Windmill Theatre had canceled their charity performance in Taichung due to "political involvement”. (CNA photo)

Paper Windmill Theatre had canceled their charity performance in Taichung due to "political involvement”. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Paper Windmill Theatre has canceled charity performances in Taichung due to "political involvement," drawing an apology from Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen, who said she hopes to set things right.

In a Facebook post, Lu wrote that Paper Windmill Theatre is most welcome in Taichung and that the government would strive to clear up the misunderstanding over the incident. She apologized to the theater and added that the government would not shy away from its responsibility in handling the issue, reported the Liberty Times on Monday (Aug. 5).

Lee Yung-feng (李永豐), the founder and director of the Paper Windmill Theatre, announced on Monday that the free shows originally planned to take place this weekend in Taichung had been canceled because the local government had been unnecessarily "hard on them," reported CNA. Lee wrote in a Facebook post:

"For 12 years, we put on free shows for children. Excluding donations, the theater spent nearly NT$50 million (US$15.8 million) on these shows! Our only wish is to provide Taiwanese children with an artistic vision and a happy night ... The local government was hard on us, so we would rather cancel our show there! Why should we spend money to be treated so harshly! So annoying!"

The cancelation came after the school that was to host the performance said that higher authorities would not allow it to be held there, reported the Liberty Times. Wu Huang-sheng, the commissioner of Taichung City's Information Bureau, explained that when an elected representative, who helped secure the venue for the theater, is named as a co-organizer of this kind of event, it tends to cause concern for the school and the parents, especially during an election season.

Paper Windmill Theatre said that since the Taichung City government had doubts about the political affiliation of the group, it would not be allowed to use a local school as its performing site; after difficult negotiations, however, the school agreed to rent out its sports field for NT$12,000. This was the first time the theater had been asked by a public institution to pay for its charity show, reported UDN.

Taichung City's Department of Education said that according to current regulations, it could not be a co-organizer for performing groups that receive no grants from the government, and the group would therefore be charged a venue fee. The department claimed the incident was a misunderstanding and emphasized that they welcomed Paper Windmill Theatre to Taichung, according to UDN.

New Power Party Legislator Hung Tzu-yung (洪慈庸) said that Paper Windmill Theatre selflessly made immense contributions to society at a time when few resources are available for art. She added that she did not believe "politics is politics, art is art" but that it is a pity the government deprived the children of an opportunity to experience beauty and art, according to the Liberty Times.

The canceled shows were originally planned at Nanyang Elementary School on Aug. 10 and Yong An Elementary School on Aug. 11.