“As in the case with all of Red Room’s events, the ‘Art of Kua’ was intimate and meaningful, with multiple layers of purpose” ~ Julia Kao
9 years have passed since friends and family first gathered at Aveda Learning Kitchen to share their thoughts about life, embrace their love for beautiful contributions and open their hearts in a homely atmosphere over a glass of wine. What began with “Stage Time and Wine” has since evolved in many ways over the last 9 years. Red Room has broadened it’s horizons, and encourages and supports growth and exchange of values through visual arts, performance and family friendly events.
On the occasion of Red Room’s 9th anniversary on the 24th of November 2018, Red Roomers commemorated the core essence of their work by setting up a living room salon-style event “The Art of Kua”. Although Red Room has been engaged with intercultural community building and cultural exploration ever since 2009, Taiwan itself has to overcome great obstacles before acceptance and esteem towards cultural exploration can be completely ensured. “The Art of Kua” refers to the desire of challenging contemporary values by enriching, exploring and internationalizing Taiwanese culture in different aspects.
Arriving in Taiwan just a few days before the event took place, and soon after, entering the Red Room space has definitely gave me a feeling of warmth and acceptance within a joyful and loving community. It is most certainly an open listening place where people embrace their love for the performing arts. I can remember listening for the very first time to the speeches and anecdotes of seven different curators, who came along to acknowledge a topical issue and share their perspectives on cultural exploration. Each of the engaged speakers have created an environment where people across the generations are encouraged to take action and make Taiwan a more accessible place for both local and foreign communities.
“The inner ability to reinvent lies within each of us, and it is awakened by involvement” ~ 季勳
Social impact platforms and various labs emerging in Taiwan’s community landscape encourage global community building by offering the chance to make beautiful contributions in a space filled with creative energy and positivity. People like you and me are empowered to impact others by getting involved and taking responsibility for ourselves. Being the founder of 棧戀棧練 (woodsart upcycling) lab based in Taiwan, 季勳 has experienced the growth and cultural enrichment first hand. Her social events create a sustainable, nature and arts-based environment, which attracts people across the generations. Respective labs in Taiwan do not only offer to let off steam with ideas, but there is also a great chance to give something back to the community you have chosen to be part of.
“Listening to the speakers during that night really gives you an idea of how to impact the people surrounding you, and that you can learn from each of them” ~ Romona Guan
Romona Guan has established a social impact platform called share4impact, engaging potential change makers within a global community. In order to be involved, you simply have to “be yourself, treat everyone equally and with love, and above all, take responsibility for your learning”, says Romona, when I asked her if she followed certain guidelines when it comes to setting up an event. The pay-by-value system does not only offer a borderless environment, but it also creates a podium for those, who are willing to share their values offline just like “eye to eye, heart to heart”.
“Through comparing and contrasting differences, we can select the qualities and ways of doing from the other that we admire, and shed the routines that we decide no longer serve us in our newly made ideas of where we want to go.”
Being surrounded by listeners from both Taiwanese and international cultures on that bilingually held event, I was able to perceive the desire for mutual understanding and bridging gaps where it was needed. Emerging labs, cultural facilities and innovation centers in foreign countries allow insights into the actual practice of cultural experimentation. Instead of waiting for the desired changes in Taiwan, the artistic community takes matters into their own hands. To “Intimidate and push boundaries of other artists in Taiwan”, is Julia Kao’s mission being the curator of Oomph, a creative movement and art space.
“The demand is for social innovation is there, and there are movements aiming to push the boundaries of what’s possible, despite many limitations – be it cultural, political, or financial.”
Being part of a thriving community such as Red Room does not only offer me the opportunity to connect to people within a creative ecosystem, but it also challenges my intercultural understanding when it comes to working in a multilingual sector. It is not only the listening culture and the cultural growth and experiences, but also the borderless working environment that attracts people to come to Red Room as volunteers. We all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves, and we want to contribute to something meaningful, not only within our own private surroundings, but also when it comes to work and business. One of the top goals speaking of internationalization is making Taiwan a more accessible place for foreigners, says speaker David Chang, who is one of the founders of the Crossroads platform supporting entrepreneurs of foreign residency within Taiwan. By creating a more open governmental framework, equal opportunities in both work and finances could be generated to make sure that foreign residents can stay and settle in Taiwan.
The greatest of all challenges is to preserve the feeling of warmth and belonging when conserving traditions. Being part of a global community like Red Room comes with reinvention of ourselves and how we perceive the world. As we come together to talk about our identity here in Taiwan, we do not only discover our similarities, but also different perceptions of how live up to long-perceived traditions and how to displace the ones that has come off our way of thinking . The desire for change is a constant, therefore the greatest of all challenges is to preserve the feeling of warmth and belonging when conserving traditions.
Seeing how people from across the world have decided to come to Taiwan, whether it’s only temporary or to settle, working side by side to enable an environment of listening and learning, a beautiful space was set up. And it is not only the creative energy and intimate gatherings that attracts people coming to the Red Room space. It is a place of intercultural understanding, a place where each of us can easily integrate into the community, even though you are still newbie just like me.