It is still cool in the early spring, but the sun in southern Taiwan is very warm, and on the sunlight-filled afternoon of March 14, the 9th ART TAINAN came to an exciting close at Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel Tainan. The four-day long fair brought the messages of spring to the ancient capital – Tainan that has been rapidly developing in recent years. ART TAINAN had been held in Tayih Landis Hotel Tainan for years, however, due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the well-known long-standing Tayih Landis Hotel Tainan had closed its doors. Nevertheless, the light of art has not been extinguished. This year, ART TAINAN has been relocated to Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel Tainan near Tainan Train Station and National Cheng Kung University.  This is even more convenient for visitors to visit the fair from afar. Every room provides a splendid view of Tainan’s scenery between the artworks, realizing the aesthetics of an artistic lifestyle. People can let art nurture their hearts and souls, and respond to this time that is filled with uncertainties.

At the ART TAINAN 2021 opening ceremony

At the ART TAINAN 2021 opening ceremony

Nine long years to raise the ART TAINAN brand

Taiwan Art Gallery Association (TAGA for short) sees the continuing improvement of the quality of art scene, promotion of art education and establishment of reasonable market order as its major responsibility, and has worked for nine long years in Tainan to try and create Tainan’s benchmark exhibition for contemporary art, the results of which is starting to show. Originally ART TAINAN was transformed from the former Fu-Cheng Art Fair, which was first launched in 2012. In 2013, with the mission statement as a born “Tainanese”, the then Chairperson Oliver Chang pushed for the change of the name to ART TAINAN, which more appropriately fits the brand image of contemporary aesthetics.

The founder of Chimei Corporation, Wenlong Shi, visiting ART TAINAN2012

The founder of Chimei Corporation, Wenlong Shi, visiting ART TAINAN2012

Then Tainan Mayor William Chingte Lai visiting ART TAINAN 2012

Then Tainan Mayor William Chingte Lai visiting ART TAINAN 2012

In 2013, then Chairperson Oliver Chang (in orange shirt in the center) officially named the fair as ART TAINAN, and is seen viewing the first NEXT ART TAINAN award with Director-general Tseshan Yeh of Cultural Affairs Bureau, Tainan City Government, and then Tainan Mayor William Chingte Lai.

In 2013, then Chairperson Oliver Chang (in orange shirt in the center) officially named the fair as ART TAINAN, and is seen viewing the first NEXT ART TAINAN award with Director-general Tseshan Yeh of Cultural Affairs Bureau, Tainan City Government, and then Tainan Mayor William Chingte Lai.

The success of ART TAINAN can clearly be seen in the constant growth in number of visitors, attending exhibitors, ticket sales and other related data over the years. The total number of visitors at ART TAINAN has passed 40,000, and in 2021 has generated over 65 million NTD in terms of spending and benefits in the tourism sector. Based on TAGA’s statistics, the watershed moment in terms of visitor numbers was in 2016, reaching an average of 8000 visitors each year, and reached the record high of 8500 visitors in 2021. ART TANAN has become an important platform to promote contemporary art in Tainan, and also reached record number in attending exhibitors, with 56 exhibitors in 2021 which was an almost 30% growth compared to the previous year. Even during the pandemic, there were two overseas galleries attending the fair for the first time, which showed the art industry  is not only confident in the Tainan art market, but that overseas galleries are paying close attention to the market. The result of nine years’ hard work can also be reflected in ticket sales, with on-site ticket sales growing by 100%, and 200% for online sales in 2021. The growth of ticket sales also demonstrates the results of art education promotion and the lift of art level by ART TAINAN.

ART TAINAN 2016 was the watershed for number of visitors, exceeding previous numbers by 3000 visitors.

ART TAINAN 2016 was the watershed for number of visitors, exceeding previous numbers by 3000 visitors.

Large number of officials in attendance at the lively opening ceremony press conference for ART TAINAN 2021

Large number of officials in attendance at the lively opening ceremony press conference for ART TAINAN 2021

The key to success – a united front between the industry, government and academia

ART TAINAN’s success was not achieved in the blink of an eye. It was an aggregation of various elements, with everyone working together over the years, taking one step at a time to reach the present time. Since 2013, TAGA, as the organizer of ART TAINAN, has set “establishment of market order, allow young artists easier access to the market through the professionalism of galleries and the art fair platform” as goals, been collaborating  with Tainan City Government’s Cultural Affairs Bureau to create the NEXT ART TAINAN award, and been providing   parallel tracks in academia and the industry to sow the seeds for contemporary art, to overturn old impressions of the ancient capital of Tainan. The NEXT ART TAINAN award is aimed at nurturing young Taiwan artists below 40 years of age, and after 9 years of labor, the award has become a platform where the voices of the young, rising stars of art can be heard. It is considered one of the most popular art awards in Taiwan, and the winning artists display their works at ART TAINAN; after the fair, local galleries will continue to provide exposure by holding a month-long themed exhibition, so as to continue the enthusiasm and conversational topic for contemporary art in Tainan.

Tainan City mayor Weiche Huang, honorary chairperson Huidong Chen and board member Xianfa Su of Tainan Art Museum, along with TAGA Chairperson Oliver Chang taking a look at NEXT ART TAINAN winners at ART TAINAN 2021

Tainan City mayor Weiche Huang, honorary chairperson Huidong Chen and board member Xianfa Su of Tainan Art Museum, along with TAGA Chairperson Oliver Chang taking a look at NEXT ART TAINAN winners at ART TAINAN 2021.

Close industry-government collaboration: TAGA chairperson Oliver Zhang (right) and TAGA secretary-general Wenmei Yiu at the ART TAINAN 2021 exhibitor dinner and NEXT ART TAINAN award ceremony.

Close industry-government collaboration: TAGA chairperson Oliver Zhang (right) and TAGA secretary-general Wenmei Yiu at the ART TAINAN 2021 exhibitor dinner and NEXT ART TAINAN award ceremony.

The number of submissions for NEXT ART TAINAN has also increased over the years; over 380 submissions were received in 2020, and the number exceeded 400 in 2021, with 426 submissions in total, setting a new record. The collaboration between ART TAINAN and the Tainan City Government has also become increasingly regular with time, with closer interaction being fostered, such as VART TAINAN, a virtual reality online art fair that was first launched in 2020, where Tainan City Mayor Weiche Huang and Director-General Tseshan Yeh of Cultural Affairs Bureau, Tainan City Government both donated their time to record relaxing promotional clips that introduced the format of VARTTAINAN through social network media. In 2021, the Mayor also recorded a clip especially to promote ART TAINAN and NEXT ART TAINAN. At the same time, Director-General Yeh together with TAGA Chairperson Oliver Chang utilized an approachable, humorous script to present the other side of the earnest collaboration between the government and the industry.

TAGA Chairperson OliverChang and Director-General Tseshan Yeh of Cultural Affairs Bureau, Tainan City Government both appeared in a humor-filled clip that promoted ART TAINAN and NEXT ART TAINAN award on social network media

TAGA Chairperson OliverChang and Director-General Tseshan Yeh of Cultural Affairs Bureau, Tainan City Government both appeared in a humor-filled clip that promoted ART TAINAN and NEXT ART TAINAN award on social network media.

The promotion of art education is one of the unseen elements that led to the success of ART TAINAN. Over the 9 years, ART TAINAN has played a vital role on the promotion of contemporary art education in Tainan. Visitors not only come to know the artists recommended by the various art galleries by attending the art fair, but they also attend the art lectures  held during the fair to enrich their knowledge on art collection. For instance, ART TAINAN 2018 expanded to hold the lecture on “Preservation and restoration of artworks”, in order to promote the practical aspects of art collection, and help collectors garner knowledge on preservation of artwork.

The lecture on “Preservation and restoration of artworks” at ART TAINAN 2018.

The lecture on “Preservation and restoration of artworks” at ART TAINAN 2018.

ART TAINAN 2021 guests visiting the Art Conservation and Scientific Research Center at Tainan Art Museum.

ART TAINAN 2021 guests visiting the Art Conservation and Scientific Research Center at Tainan Art Museum.

Looking at 2021, ART TAINAN had collaborated with the Art Conservation and Scientific Research Center at Tainan Art Museum where distinguished guests were invited to visit. The Center also offered keynote lectures to share with the public professional knowledge on art restoration as well as collection and preservation thereof. The annual “Art administration talent training and application program”, is also a key program that integrates local education institutions to assist aspiring young people who are willing to enter the art industry to accumulate practical experience. In 2021, the “Education course linkup program” allowed class supervising teachers to lead students to attend art lectures, and after the course, to physically visit ART TAINAN, where the fair carried out art education, further nurturing talents for the industry, and promoting art for all.

ART TAINAN 2021 lectures integrate “Education course linkup program” to promote art education for all.

ART TAINAN 2021 lectures integrate “Education course linkup program” to promote art education for all.

The “Art administration talent training and application program” further nurtures talents in the visual art industry.

The “Art administration talent training and application program” further nurtures talents in the visual art industry.

Carefully nurturing the exquisite collector categories

TAGA particularly focuses on providing services to local collectors. When faced with Tainan that has a rich history and culture and has bred groups of low-key collectors with strong collecting power, ART TAINAN launched “First Art – My first art collection”, where professional art galleries put out suitable artworks as the first piece of artwork to start a collection, breaking the traditional impression that art collection is out of reach. This concept was further upgraded in 2018 to “Knock knock, ART!”, which further extended on the concept of the first art collection piece, and focused on potential new collectors by providing compact, collectible artworks with market potential, in order to widen the previously narrow threshold for art collection.

On the eve of ART TAINAN 2021, a VIP preview event was held at Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel Tainan’s presidential suite as collaboration with brand wineries with the theme of “storytellers”. The high-end setting displayed works from three artists with inextricable ties to Tainan, and the VIP event customized the experience by categorizing attending collectors as new collectors, female collectors, or experienced collectors, so that the collectors could warm up for ART TAINAN as they tasted wines and appreciated the feast of artworks.

ART TAINAN’s promotion of “First Art – My first art collection”, breaking the perception that art collection is out of reach.

ART TAINAN’s promotion of “First Art – My first art collection”, breaking the perception that art collection is out of reach.

“Knock knock, ART!”, broadening the narrow threshold of knowledge on art collection.

“Knock knock, ART!”, broadening the narrow threshold of knowledge on art collection.

Moreover, on the operational front of expanding collector numbers, Chiehlin Chung, the new chairperson of Yizai Club, an organization formed by companies in the Tainan area listed on the stock market, was especially invited to the opening ceremony. The Chairperson also hopes that entrepreneurs working hard at their business are able to develop an eye and interest for art appreciation during their spare time. Other new collector categorization strategies have also successfully generated different groups’ interest in art collection. According to statistics, more than 30% of the exhibitors have indicated that the art collectors are no longer limited to the familiar faces of the past, and contact with more than 70% of the new collectors is via ART TAINAN. This also meets TAGA’s initial ideal, where careful and exquisite services provided to the collectors helps to facilitate the development of the industry, and break new grounds for the visual art sector.

The pre-fair VIP preview event was collaboration between brand wineries and the attending galleries.

The pre-fair VIP preview event was collaboration between brand wineries and the attending galleries.

The new Chairperson of Yizai Club, Chiehlin Chung, visiting ART TAINAN 2021.

The new Chairperson of Yizai Club, Chiehlin Chung, visiting ART TAINAN 2021.

Nine years to transform the ancient capital of cultural and new city of art

A painting, a video, an installation, a three-dimensional sculpture; in the bed room, bathroom, living room; all provide the audience with more space and conversation for the imagination. No art is superior to another; there is only the flow of thoughts that conversations and exchanges bring. Everyone has the freedom to interpret the artwork in their own way. ART TAINAN’s format as a hotel-based fair continues to draw people to walk into the environment of a hotel, to carry out a conversation with art amidst a visual feast. Director-General Tseshan Yeh of Cultural Affairs Bureau, Tainan City Government said ART TAINAN began in the early years when Tainan county and Tainan city merged, and in the past Tainan has always been seen as a traditional city, but the TAGA-organized ART TAINAN brought contemporary artwork to the city, and so the history of the fair has also turned to a significant page in the contemporary art history of Tainan – ART TAINAN has been involved in the gradual transformation of Tainan from an ancient city of culture to a new city of art.

After 9 years of constant evolution, the works on display at ART TANAN 2021 have also gradually transitioned from the   classic works in the early years to contemporary video art, concept art, and composite medium creations. The expression of diverse mediums has also become items favored by collectors, including the currently trending fashion art, as well as works from young local artists in Tainan. These results are the sparks generated by the collision and excitation between the industry, the government, academia and the collectors, with the art fair that focuses on localization at the core. With continuous efforts over the long period of time, the initial spark has finally been lit, to create the beacon for local art industry in Tainan.

ART TAINAN 2021 put diverse works on display, and live streamed events through social media.

ART TAINAN 2021 put diverse works on display, and live streamed events through social media.

The video art work on display at ART TAINAN 2021.

The video art work on display at ART TAINAN 2021.

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