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Foreign artists help indigenous village raise money for center

2011/11/19 20:41:23

Taipei, Nov. 19 (CNA) Foreign artists successfully raised enough money Saturday for a long-needed community center in an indigenous village in Hsinchu County after holding an auction of artworks by children from the village in Taipei.

The group of artists successfully raised the NT$2.1 million (US$69,444) needed to convert an idle building in Chingchuan Village into a community center where villagers can meet, learn traditional arts and crafts, and take part in educational activities.

"This community center could be the start of a rebirth for the village," Father Barry, who has been the village priest for over 35 years, said in a statement. "Its renovation could provide a new source of pride and self-help action for the villagers."

The auction showcased abstract artworks, tribal murals and thirty bamboo-framed photos by Atayal children from the village, along with traditional Atayal arts and crafts. Some of the murals sold for between NT$40,000 and NT$70,000 each.

Co-leaders of the project Malinda Schultz and Sean Kaiteri, said that around 30 foreign artists, photographers, writers, documentary specialists and volunteers came together to make the auction possible.

As part of the project, Atayal children were given cameras and taught basic photography and then spent two weeks taking pictures of their families, friends, homes and village.

Bisu, 14, who took a photo of a bridge near his home, said he was excited at the prospect of having a community activity center.

An art workshop was also held to teach the children abstract art, sketching and tribal art.

"Part of the motivation for the project is to raise awareness," Schultz said, noting that some Taiwanese she encountered did not appear to have a deep understanding of indigenous culture in Taiwan.

Schultz, who has lived in Taiwan for more than three years, said she first visited Chingchuan Village to learn more about Austronesian culture. But she was inspired by the villagers to launch the fundraising project.

After discussing the idea with Father Barry, Schultz decided to raise funds for a community center that local people have wanted for four years.

Roma Mehta, one of the project's volunteers, felt that the event would help raise awareness of those making a difference in the world.

"When people come together selflessly in support of something they believe in, there is no limit to what can be achieved," Mehta was quoted as saying in a statement.

(By Christie Chen)
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