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Theater troupe on final leg of countryside tour for children

2011/09/10 20:33:36

Taipei, Sept. 10 (CNA) A local theater troupe that is operating a tour to bring art to children in Taiwan's 319 townships will complete their performances in the last five townships by the end of this year.

The Paper Windmill Theatre, which operates the tour called "First Mile, Kid's Smile: Arts for Children in 319 Townships," is scheduled to put on theatrical performances for local children at its final destinations from Oct. 8 to Dec. 3.

Lee Yung-feng, founder of the theater troupe, told CNA Wednesday that the tour -- a collaborative effort of many people -- is an unprecedented achievement. It has not used any government resources and was fully funded by the public, he said.

The tour was initiated five years ago by writers, artists, professors, doctors, and people in the film and media industry, with the goal to give less advantaged children in the countryside a chance to see and be inspired by art.

So far, it has staged 371 theatrical performances in 314 townships, relying on donations from the public. As of Sept. 8, a total of 24,000 individuals and corporations donated over NT$196 million (US$6.74 million) to support the tour.

Lee said he once turned down a NT$200 million donation offer from a corporation.

"Small donations are what we want," he said.

The donations his troupe have accepted range from NT$10 to NT$100,000.

Many of the donations were made by people who saw the performances and wanted children in the next township to be able to enjoy it as well, said Lee.

He said his troupe will take a break after they complete the tour, and will not rush into a second tour.

"We want to do what will help the children and benefit them," said Lee, adding that it is more important to spread the message of the tour than to promote a second tour.

The Paper Windmill Theatre is scheduled to launch a photo collection next year that captures the smiles that children had on their faces when they were watching the performances.

(By Sabine Cheng and Christie Chen)