A gathering for good causes at Taiwan Fest

Project leads to acts of charity performed across the globe | Photo courtesy of BeWithU

As the month of September approaches, Vancouver being the diversified city that it is, is offering wondrous cultural activities for Canadians to connect with their roots. For Taiwan Fest (Sept. 2–4) it is a special occasion to reconnect with the essence of Asian heritage.

Eddy Kuo, executive assistant of Taiwan Fest, says the festival had, initially, a rather small focus.

“The concept originally started in Vancouver in 1990, under the title of music night of Taiwanese composers,” he says.

Then, it became “Taiwanese cultural music festival”, showcasing cultural heritage and other aspects. Recently, Kuo says the music night rebranded itself into “Taiwan Fest” for a succinct description.

Social good

Aside from cultural activities, Taiwan Fest also serves as a platform for charitable acts with the organization of the BeWithU project. The project has been running for 20 years. Charlie Wu, managing director of the project, explains the logistics behind this project.

“Our organization is non-profit. This is an initiative to make everything charitable, but it’s not a charity,” says Wu. “We work with charities with causes. So by using our platform with Taiwan Fest or events like this, we are able to bring people together.”

Wu’s team has collaborated with a lot of sponsors and partners ̶ and many causes ̶ to take actions together.

“So the concept is really to [use] our event as a platform,” says Wu. “However, rather than people indulging in their own thing at the event, we’re trying to bring influence to each other. For example, [a] fan base can be called upon, using their love for the artist and transfer their love to another cause. At the same time, sponsors [may] actually want to reach a particular demographic that matches the artist fan base.”

Wu adds it is finding the synergy in participating parties that brings success to the platform altogether.

“I think this world needs a lot more co-operations,” says Wu. “A lot of causes [do] their own thing, their own events ̶ fund raise and recruit volunteers ̶ so they had to do everything on their own. And the artists work on music or whatever to inspire their fan base.

“There’s gotta be a better way to channel that inspiration and passion beyond just the love of works of the artists. So channeling that [passion] into causes would be something really great.”

A culture of compassion

Taiwan Fest plays an important role in bringing all the good causes together in one place. Wu reveals the mega band May Day, from Taiwan, will be taking part in the upcoming concert this November ̶ to call upon their fans for the good causes. Wu stresses the role of compassion culture in Taiwanese culture today and how his team can incorporate it in the festival.

“People can enjoy music and films through, but we don’t wanna forget there are people in need in this world. And while we’re doing it, the programming leaves room for us to do social good for others,” he says.

BeWithU has recently nurtured various charities: a program that finds matches for people who are in need of bone marrow transplants; a program where one can collect second- hand shoes to send over to Kenya; a group of young people who kick-started a project to make disposable sanitary pads for girls in Africa this year; and a program called “Proud to be hyphenated” in which Canadians are proud of their identities regardless of skin colour.

“There is so much going on in the world: discrimination [and] racism in our society. We want to reverse the trend, we want people to see everyone here in Canada as Canadians rather [than] looking at their skin colour ̶  and then thinking they might be from another place,” says Wu.

For more information, please visit www.taiwanfest.ca.