The ‘Taiwanese Heritage’ or TH event is a cultural diplomacy initiative that aims to improve Taiwan’s prominence and standing in Los Angeles. Cultural diplomacy utilizes cultural assets as an agent of influence in the global arena and as a means of promoting mutual understanding between cultures (Ross, 2002). The main goal of the TH event is to leverage on the country’s cultural assets to create a favorable image of Taiwan in the American public. The island’s international recognition is limited by China’s domineering control, hence, the need for soft power to improve its standing in the US (Hsiao & Yang, 2009). The goals that the Consulate of Taiwan would want to achieve through this cultural diplomacy event include:
- To improve the place of Taiwanese culture in the world by projecting a coherent national cultural event
- To raise awareness of Taiwan’s international recognition and prominence on the world stage
- To achieve a global presence by creating an attractive image of the national culture in Los Angeles
- To identify opportunities for cultural cooperation and exchange that would attract young Americans to learn about the Taiwanese culture
- To disseminate the Taiwanese culture through various methods to increase the visibility of the Taiwanese culture in America
The TH event will be held for a whole week between May 2 and 6, 2016, and will be adequately evaluated to inform future initiatives. In addition, the event will involve a range of activities to market the different cultural resources that Taiwan has to offer and meet the aforementioned objectives. The rationale for the choice of a range of activities is to present a complete and coherent image of Taiwan to the attendees. The main features of the event will include:
- A presentation of the Taiwanese cultural products to the American public through art expos, cultural festivals, music, and performance
- Involvement of Taiwanese cultural professionals and Diaspora community in the activities
- Partnerships with American cultural institutions to showcase the Taiwanese culture to a larger audience
The prime objective of the event is to raise awareness of Taiwan’s international recognition in the United States. In addition, the TH event will create cultural awareness and promote cultural dialogue. The event will involve a series of activities designed to disseminate Taiwan’s cultural products and engage the American participants. The initiative is part of the ‘cultural diplomacy’ efforts of the Consulate of Taiwan in Los Angeles. It will target not only opinion leaders in the US, i.e., policymakers and journalists but also the American public primarily in Los Angeles. The event coordinator will be drawn from the Consulate office.
The one-week conference will promote the Taiwanese culture during the first week of May 2016. The theme of the conference will be ‘Experience Taiwan’s Rich Culture’. It will feature various activities, including art expos, music performance, festivities (gastro diplomacy), and keynote speeches. The event will focus on ideas and practices pertinent to the Taiwanese culture in the global context. In the face of socioeconomic disputes with China, Taiwan the cultural diplomacy event will help redefine the country’s image internationally (Rockower, 2011). The event will bring together Taiwan’s cultural experts who will help attendees to understand the country’s history and culture.
Proposed Event Program
10:00 A.M. – Opening of the Conference
The opening session will feature remarks by:
- the event coordinator;
- the ambassador;
- local leaders (the mayor) of Los Angeles;
- Taiwan’s Minister of culture;
- Representatives of Taiwanese cultural associations.
The purpose of this session is to encourage the American audience to play an active role in the discussions and cultural activities. The event organizer will take this opportunity to emphasize the need for Taiwan to have a clear foreign policy through cultural diplomacy.
- 12:00 P.M. – Introduction of the Various Aspects of Taiwan’s culture
The session will introduce to the attendees the aspects of Taiwan’s geography, history, political and social climate, and development policy. The rationale is to create awareness of Taiwan’s culture in the audience. It is important that Taiwan is recognized internationally as a nation-state (Rockower, 2011). Greater awareness of the Taiwanese culture is required as a way of fostering international relations.
- 1:00-2:00 PM – Lunch Break.
- 2:00-4:00 PM – Debate.
- 10:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. – Roundtable Discussions.
The discussions will feature culture and trade, development agenda, and foreign policy. In addition, the features that define the Taiwanese culture will be addressed during these discussions. As Nye (2004) writes, each culture has “distinct clichés that make external recognition easier” (p. 51). For this reason, the methods a nation uses to disseminate its culture are important because they determine its public image.
- 1:00-2:00 PM – Lunch Break.
- 2:00-4:00 PM – Roundtable Discussions.
- 5:00 – End of Sessions.
Day 3: Dissemination of Culture
The dissemination will involve a range of methodologies. The rationale for this decision is to accord the attendees an opportunity to interact with as many diverse cultural resources as possible.
- 10:00-1.00 AM – Art Expo.
The exhibitions will feature Taiwan’s history, artifacts, and ancient antiquities. The main events during the two days include:
- 1:00-2:00 PM – Lunch break.
- 2:00-4:00 PM – Art Expo featuring paintings and drawings of Taiwanese artists will be presented.
- 5:00 – End of Sessions.
Day 4: Cultural Dissemination
- 10:00-1:00 AM – Music/cinematic Arts.
The performances will feature traditional Taiwanese dancers and singers. The attendees will be encouraged to participate in the live performances to promote cultural interaction and dialogue.
- 1:00-2:00 PM – Lunch break.
- 2:00-4:00 PM – The afternoon session will also involve cultural dances and performances. The session will also project Taiwan as an excellent tourist destination. It will feature ‘representations’ of traditional festivals and ancient non-Chinese music.
- 5:00 PM – End of Sessions.
Day 5: Cultural Dissemination
- 10:00-1:00 AM – Culinary Art.
The participants will be taught the Taiwanese culinary art. They will also experience Taiwan’s traditional food, spices, and seasonings.
- 1:00-2:00 PM – Lunch break.
- 2:00-4:00 PM – The presentation of the culinary art will continue in the afternoon.
- 4:00-5:00 PM – Vote of thanks and conclusion of the event.
- 5:00 PM – End of Sessions.
The human resource will be involved in cultural diplomacy activities to attain the objectives stated above. The multidisciplinary staff will be drawn from the Diaspora community, Taiwanese artists, singers, collectors, American media, and cultural specialists as well as from the Consulate in Los Angeles. The key staff and their roles are given below.
He or she will source for resources and venue/institution that will host the weeklong event. The coordinator will also promote the event through local media to ensure high attendance rates. The organizer will come from the Consulate of Taiwan in Los Angeles.
A delegate of Culture
The individual will come from the Taiwanese Ministry of culture. As a person experienced in Taiwan’s cultural policies, he or she will play a role in designing the program to create awareness of the culture among the American attendees.
Talented Taiwanese artists renowned domestically for great paintings, drawings, and other artwork will take part in the expo. Their works will be displayed to the American audience during the event.
Taiwanese singers of traditional and contemporary music will perform live for the audience. The aim is to entertain the attendees and encourage cultural exchange through song and dance.
Cultural cooperation can be achieved through culinary art. The attendees will be able to experience Taiwanese cuisine prepared by professional chefs from Taiwan. In addition, the interactive nature of the event will allow the participants to learn the culinary practices of Taiwan.
Representatives of the Diaspora community
Taiwan’s citizens living abroad act as ambassadors of the country on the international stage. They help shape the image of Taiwan’s culture abroad. Therefore, the Diaspora community will be engaged in developing coherent cultural products for the event.
Taiwanese diplomats experienced in cultural cooperation and international relations will serve an advisory role in the initiative. They will be drawn from the Consulate office in Los Angeles.
The involvement of film professionals will ensure the cultural products reach the wider American public in Los Angeles. In addition, extensive publicity through the American media will help achieve a high level of awareness of Taiwan’s culture in the U.S. within a short time.
The event will be held in Lost Angeles’ iconic Egyptian Theatre between the 2nd and 7th of May. The theatre is located in Hollywood in the LA metropolis. The venue is renowned for hosting cultural festivals from different cultures across the world. The rationale for choosing the theatre for the cultural diplomacy event is to reach wider audiences. It has a capacity of 616 people and a well-refurbished cultural infrastructure ideal for holding exhibitions and performances.
Scope of the Work
The cultural diplomacy event will exhibit Taiwan’s cultural products ranging from music to culinary practices. Therefore, it will be an effective tool for elevating the island’s position and recognition in America. As Finn (2003) writes, cultural diplomacy encompasses wide-ranging activities, including the “exchange of ideas, values, traditions, and other aspects of cultural identity” used to improve cultural relations and cooperation in the world stage (p. 16). The event will serve to project Taiwan’s unique case and create a positive image of the country in the American public.
The event will focus on three aspects of Taiwan’s cultural diplomacy, namely, culture, food, and tourism. The activities will aim to improve the island’s cultural and diplomatic prospects at a time when relations with the People’s Republic of China are strained.
- Tourism – the island is endowed with a number of tourist attractions. Between 2010 and 2012, the number of visitors to Taiwan rose from five million to seven million (Gilboa, 2002). The visitors included foreigners and Chinese tourists, indicating that Taiwan’s allure lies in its unique cultural products.Therefore, the event organized in Los Angeles will feature ‘representations’ of Taiwanese culture unique to the island. Most traditional festivals held on the island are banned in Mainland China. The ceremonies unique to Taiwan include the “celebration of Confucius’ birth and the Burning of Wang Yeh’s Boat” (Rockower, 2011, p. 36). In addition, the event will feature representations of Chinese cultural products that are no longer practiced in the People’s Republic of China. One such product is the Yayue, a historical Chinese musical performance (Rockower, 2011).
- Cultural music – Taiwanese artists dominate the music industry in China. The popular music artists that sing in Mandarin include A-Mei, Tsai, and Chou (Rockower, 2011). In addition, the Wu Tian band is also popular in China and Asia. The Los Angeles event will feature musical performances from these popular stars. Their involvement will serve to not only entertain the attendees but also expose them to the Mandarin culture and language through their songs and lyrics. By listening to music performances by the actors, the American public will familiarize themselves with the island’s culture.
- Gastro diplomacy – this approach will aim to win the hearts of the attendees through Taiwanese cuisines. Through gastro diplomacy, the American participants will be able to distinguish the cuisines unique to Taiwan from those available in mainland China. The food prepared by Taiwanese chefs will be served during the food festivals. The Taiwanese food served will include “bubble tea, stinky tofu, beef noodle soup, and iced sea-salt lattes” (Booth, 2010, para. 7). Gastro diplomacy is an effective tool for strengthening cross-cultural ties between the US and Taiwan. In this regard, popular Taiwanese cuisines will be presented during the event to build a positive image of the country in the US.
The budget will cover the activities and functions described above. It will help support cultural presentations during the 5-day event.
Budget for the ‘Taiwanese Heritage’ Event
|Items||Description||Cost Estimates ($)|
|616-capacity Egyptian theater, LA||500|
|Site staff||Staff compensation||1000|
|Equipment||Cultural artifacts, cookeries, and other items||1000|
|Chairs||616 seats for five days||800|
|Graphics work||Ads to be placed in LA media||200|
|Photocopying and Printing||Copies of the program||250|
|Media Ads||Radio and Television||200|
|Staff compensation||Chefs, ushers, and servers||800|
|Performers||Artists, singers, and dancers||1000|
|Speakers||Event organizer, Diaspora representative, American producer, and diplomat||1000|
|Travel||Traveling allowance for speakers||500|
|Telephone||Calls made to staff and guests||200|
|Stationery supplies||Pens and writing papers||400|
The evaluation outcomes will indicate the success of the event in meeting the set objectives. It will involve the assessment of various measurable indicators. The tangible results achieved by the event will give an indication of the success of the five-day event. In this regard, the evaluation will use three measurable elements of the event.
- The event elements – the indicators will include the size of the audience, demographic characteristics, participants’ residences, the attending rate, and customer satisfaction with the event, food, and artifacts/performances.
- Organizational elements – will involve the measurement of the amount of human resources utilized, the expenditure ($10,000), and the satisfaction levels of the performers, speakers, and diplomats.
- Contextual elements – will involve the measurement of the participants’ perceptions, the number of local partners engaged, the media coverage, and the outcome of the function.
Event evaluation aims to measure every aspect of the initiative, including staffing requirements, after the event (Getz, 2000). Therefore, it helps identify missed opportunities as well as results that can be integrated into subsequent cultural diplomacy events. The evaluation will use three approaches to assess the event, namely, quantitative, qualitative, and financial. The quantitative method will involve the analysis of attendance rates, customer satisfaction data, and participant demographic data, among others.
The qualitative approach will involve the analysis of verbatim responses from the attendees, speakers, and performers. It will help measure their attitudes and satisfaction with the event’s activities. In contrast, the financial approach will evaluate the numerical data related to expenditure. The expenditure will be monitored to ensure efficiency and avoid overspending.
Another event evaluation approach is the critical ‘three Ss’ method that evaluates a program’s significance, success, and sustainability (Getz, 2000). This method will be used to assess whether the outcomes of the event correspond to the ideals of the objectives set (significance). In addition, the implementation of the proposal will be evaluated to determine if it meets the anticipated outcome (success). Lastly, the impact of the event on the American public will be measured using questionnaires to inform future action plans.
The Taiwanese Heritage program is a five-day cultural diplomacy event scheduled to take place in the Egyptian Theater, Los Angeles, in the first week of May. Its main aim is to promote Taiwan’s image and recognition in the United States. The event will involve a range of activities, including musical performances, art exhibitions, keynote addresses, culinary art, and cultural discussions, among others. It will involve diplomats from the Consulate of Taiwan in Los Angeles, the Diaspora community, Taiwanese artists, and American media/producers. The details of the event, including the program, activities, and budget are given above. In addition, the evaluation approaches that will be used to assess the event are described.
How the Event will Shape or Reshape Taiwan’s Image in the US
Taiwan suffers from isolation because of China’s political interests in the island (Rockower, 2011). It is not formally recognized by the United States or any industrial power. It has only diplomatic or consular offices in 57 countries. The isolation necessitates the need for cultural diplomacy events to raise Taiwan’s global profile. The cultural event organized in Los Angeles will involve soft power to project a favorable image of Taiwan in the US.
It will shape the image of Taiwan in two ways. First, it will use Taiwanese art, music, and cuisines to project the country as a creative and attractive place. The rationale for involving Taiwanese stars and performers in the event is to disseminate cultural products unique to Taiwan. This approach will enable the attendees to distinguish the Taiwanese culture from that of Mainland China.
Second, the event will enhance the attendees’ knowledge and understanding of the Taiwanese culture. Many Americans have a limited understanding of, or experience in, Taiwan. The event will provide the American audience an opportunity to learn about various aspects of the island’s society and experience Taiwanese culture through the presentations. Therefore, the approach will inform the American audience about the alluring elements of the culture, including cuisines, to raise Taiwan’s profile.
The Event’s Objective
As aforementioned, the objective of the TH event is to use cultural diplomacy to raise Taiwan’s profile in international affairs. The event will bring together various cultural stakeholders who will develop coherent cultural products for the American audience. The event will aim to enhance Taiwan’s global presence and visibility through soft power. In addition, it will provide opportunities for mutual cultural cooperation between the US and Taiwan.
The Type of Cultural Event Program
The Taiwanese cultural products will be disseminated in various forms. Art exhibitions will feature Taiwanese art and artists, drawings, paintings, and artifacts. The art expo will also include tourism destinations on the island. The event will also involve live performances by Taiwanese artists and dancers. Cultural festivals will be another form of cultural product that will be presented to the attendees. Participants will be able to sample the Taiwanese cuisines during the festivals. The event will also have a forum where participants and organizers will interact to facilitate cultural exchanges.
Kinds of Cultural Diplomacy that will be in Use
The event will use two kinds of cultural diplomacy, namely, art and gastro diplomacy. The island’s popular artists, including singers, bands, actors, and performers, will present cultural items in Mandarin to the attendees. In addition, traditional artifacts, paintings, and drawings will be displayed to the audience during the event. Gastro diplomacy will also be used in the event to raise Taiwan’s image in the US. The attendees will sample traditional dishes, such as beef noodle soup, prepared by Taiwanese chefs.
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Gilboa, E. (2002). Global Communication and Foreign Policy. Journal of Communication, 52(4), 731-748.
Hsiao, H. H. & Yang, A. (2009). Soft Power Politics in the Asia Pacific: Chinese and Japanese Quest for Regional Leadership. The Asia Pacific Journal, 6(1), 171-182.
Nye, J. (2004). Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics. New York, NY: Public Affairs.
Rockower, P. S. (2011). Projecting Taiwan: Taiwan’s Public Diplomacy Outreach. Issues & Studies, 47(1), 34-45.
Ross, C. (2002). Public Diplomacy Comes of Age. The Washington Quarterly, 25(2), 75-83.