Premier Su Tseng-chang on Thursday attended the 39th National Cultural Award ceremony to honor and affirm the contributions of Chen Hsi-huang and Ju Tzong-ching to the culture of Taiwan. The two legendary performers have long entertained audiences with the consummate mastery of their art, and enriched Taiwan culture by passing on this invaluable heritage, the premier said. The government is also playing a part in fueling cultural development, increasing the Ministry of Culture's (MOC) budget from NT$20 billion (US$677.5 million) to over NT$40 billion (US$1.4 billion) to make the sector shine.
Culture forms a nation's roots, and a country's culture reflects its standing and refinement, said Premier Su. The National Cultural Award represents the highest honor, bestowed by the government with the greatest sincerity on this year's two extraordinary recipients: traditional Taiwanese puppet master Chen Hsi-huang and percussion virtuoso Ju Tzong-ching. Both men are held in the highest esteem in their fields, and have devoted their lifetimes to enriching the nation's life through their command of the cultural arts. They have also passed on to generations of students their carefully preserved traditions and art, thereby enlivening culture and perpetuating spectacle.
The MOC indicated that the National Cultural Award is the nation's top honor for cultural achievement. Since its inception in 1981, awards have been conferred on 39 occasions, with 85 laureates honored for contributions in such areas as literature, the fine arts, scholarship, education and religion.