Betsy Lan was previously working as the curator of Taipei Fringe Festival, which is a place for the young artists to perform and to be seen. EARS interviewed Betsy on the latest developments in the performing arts scene in Taiwan.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Betsy Lan. I come from Taipei and I represent Taipei Fringe Festival. Taipei Fringe Festival started in 2008 and we are still a very young festival. We are a platform developed specifically for young and new artists. Basically Taipei Fringe is run by the government, the Taipei City Government provides free venues. We pay the rental fee for the artist and the artist can choose the venue they like and the time they like to perform. The spaces we curate are very diverse. Essentially we encourage artists to do site specific works. We also try to use this platform to promote new artists because most of them have just graduated and starting their careers. When they come to the festival, their work will be seen by the professionals and their peers. The young artists can grow in the festival and if they are lucky, they can be picked up by other producers throughout the country.

Where do your artists come from?

As we are still very young as a festival, the artists are mainly from Taiwan. But we also have a handful of international groups and artists from all around the world. They are mainly from other parts of Asia, from Hong Kong, Macao and Singapore, but we also have a few artists from Europe and North America.

What is the history of the festival?

The Taipei City Government runs two arts festivals during the summer. One is Taipei Children’s Art Festival and the other one is Taipei Arts Festival. They are targeted to different audiences: Taipei Children’s Art Festival is for families and Taipei Arts Festival is for more mature theater audience and professionals. The government felt that there was a need to create a platform for the young artists and that’s why Taipei Fringe Festival was created.

How do you see the government’s role in the performing arts field in Taiwan?

Right now the government plays a very important role in providing funding and resources for the arts community. There are not enough private funders in Taiwan. Besides providing money, the arts festivals like these which are run by the government, are also trying to create platforms for artists to be seen.

We try to build a festival that would extend the young artists' careers and make them become better artists.

What kind of response has the Taipei Fringe gotten from the audience?

I think the festival has done quite successfully in the past two years establishing itself as a place to see young artists. We have been lucky to have a lot of young artists coming to the festival every year. They feel it’s an important platform to be a part of and we also try very hard to do program exchanges. For example we have worked with Macao Fringe Festival for the past years to send our award winners to the Macao Fringe to perform. So that way they can organize a tour show and  make the Fringe festival as one of their stops and tour to other places as well. We don’t want it to be only a one time festival for them, it should be a festival that would extend their artistic careers and help them became better artists.

As we are now in EARS on Shanghai and EARS is all about building collaboration between Europe and Asia, do you have some aspirations in that field?

Yes, definitely. In Taiwan there are several European countries that are big arts promoters, Germany and France for example. They do a lot of funding and bring artists from Europe to Taiwan. Coming to EARS is interesting, as this is a very new forum. I’m very curious how it will build connections. I think it’s very important as Asia is the place where everything is happening at the moment. We want to reach out but I think that the rest of the world also wants to reach out to us. So I think this kind of a platform or forum is important for all people involved.

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