"The most important task for the Council for Cultural Affairs is to restore people's enthusiasm for cultural activities," according to new CCA Chairman Chiu Kun-liang.
Chiu noted that, paradoxically, since the government has begun putting more emphasis on culture, the people's interest and "investment" in cultural activities seems to have lessened, probably because they think that it is the government's responsibility to invest in such activities.
Chiu said that finding a way to arouse people's enthusiasm for culture and to encourage spontaneous participation and investment in cultural activities would be the biggest challenge for the CAA in the future. The fact that cultural affairs could easily become embroiled in wars of ideology may be the biggest obstacle to the task at hand, he added.
Chiu noted that culture is a way of life or an attitude to life and because everyone has different opinions about life, it is difficult to do a good job of developing cultural activities.
Notwithstanding the difficulty of the task, Chiu seems ready and willing to give it his best shot, an attitude that has drawn praise from CAA Vice Chairman Wu Jin-fa (吳錦發). Noting that it takes time for the results of developing cultural projects to become apparent, Wu said that he admired Chiu's willingness and courage to serve as CAA chairman.
Chiu was born on February 13, 1949 in Yilan County and earned a Ph.D. in literature at the Seventh University of Paris.
He has been president of Taipei National University of the Arts since 1997 and has been serving as chairman of the board of the National Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) Cultural Center, including National Theater Hall and National Concert Hall, since last year.
Chiu is known to be straightforward, creative and decisive. He also makes friends easily with people from all walks of life and always has a lot of inspirational ideas, said one of his friends, Ju Tzong-chung, a professor at TNUA Music Department and artistic director of the Ju Percussion Group Foundation.
Chiu, sometimes called the "Greek Prince" because of his good looks and reputation as a knowledgeable scholar, is known as a person who likes to do things his own way. Some of his friends have therefore expressed surprise at his decision to serve as CCA chairman, which automatically makes him a member of the Cabinet.
The 57-year-old Chiu said that in fact, this was not part of his career or life plan.
Chiu said that originally he had planned to do some research and to write after he retired from his post as president of TNUA this July. Therefore, when Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) first called to offer him the CCA post, he refused without thinking, he said. But after receiving several phone calls from Su, Chiu said, he was swayed by the new premier's sincere attitude.
Chiu said he had been asked several times in recent years to administer the CCA, but had refused because it was not part of his plans to serve as an official in the central government. He added that it had been easy to reject the offers at the time, but was much harder to do so this time because of Su's warm-hearted approach. Chiu related that he was persuaded by Su's invitation to join the "struggle for Taiwan."
Although Chiu has been president of the TNUA for nine years and is an experienced administrator, he is still worried that his decision to serve as the CAA chairman would prove to be a mistake.
He said he is not worried about pressure from the Legislature, but is concerned that his decisions could get him into trouble and cause problems for President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).