Cultural work receives political impetus
A guideline promotes the development of traditional arts
On August 15, the General Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, China’s Cabinet, issued a national guideline focusing on cultural development during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25) , with the aim of promoting socialist culture and making China a country firmly rooted in culture and art.
“China’s culture and art sectors should be people-focused and uphold high standards,” the guideline said.
On August 17, the CPC Central Committee’s working group for cultural system reform and development released a statement explaining the guideline and its meaning.
“The document in 15 chapters and three sections focuses on a wide range of issues, including a more civilized and healthy cyberspace environment, the creation of literary and artistic works, as well as in-depth studies and the protection of cultural heritage” , the statement said. , adding that culture is the soul of a country and the key to national governance strategy.
“Development will eventually satisfy people’s growing need for culture in their lives,” he said. “Their strength will thus be strengthened.”
The importance of such efforts had been realized even before the guideline. In recent years, works of art centered on traditional Chinese culture, especially theater productions, have been highlighted at several key central conferences.
The document also stressed the importance of strengthening the influence of traditional culture and strengthening national identity and pride.
On September 15, the 13th China Art Festival concluded with a ceremony held in Xiong’an New Area in Hebei Province.
Fifteen theatrical productions put on by performing arts troupes across the country stood out among hundreds of applicants to win the Wenhua Prize, the nation’s top performing arts award. The productions reflected the importance of traditional culture and were well received by the audience.
One of the winners was Poetic Dance: The Journey of a Legendary Landscape Painting, inspired by a well-known Song Dynasty (960-1279) painting by Wang Ximeng titled A Panorama of Rivers and Mountains.
Choreographed by Zhou Liya and Han Zhen, the dance drama, produced by the China Oriental Performing Arts Group, has screened more than 150 times in 28 cities since its premiere in Beijing last year, making it a nationwide phenomenon.
“We received many messages from the audience saying that they were deeply touched by the show, not only because of the beautiful dance moves, costumes and sets, but also because they love the traditional culture,” said said Jing Xiaoyong, head of the China Oriental Performing Arts Group, founded in the 1950s. create more stage productions featuring stories from traditional culture.
The play Teacher Guimei, created by the Yunnan Drama Theater, also received the Wenhua Prize. Directed by playwrights Wang Baoshe and Chang Hao, the show premiered in Kunming, Yunnan province last June, starring award-winning actress Li Hongmei in the lead role.
It is based on the life of Zhang Guimei, born in 1957 in Heilongjiang province.
After graduating from Lijiang Normal School, Zhang moved with her husband to Dali in Yunnan, where they both worked as teachers. After her husband’s death in 1996, Zhang moved to Huaping County in Lijiang, where she taught at Huaping Girls’ High School and ran a children’s home.
Zhang has little savings, having donated more than one million yuan ($143,480) to the school over the past three decades. She still teaches at school and lives in her dorm with female students.
Following in his footsteps, many of the school’s graduates chose to work in remote areas.
Last year, Zhang was one of the recipients of the July 1 Medal, the highest honor given to CPC members, given for outstanding contributions to education in mountainous areas.
“The company’s creative team spent 12 years preparing the play,” said Ma Jie, chairman of Yunnan Drama Theater. “Team members often traveled to visit Zhang, interview him and observe his life with the students.”
Ma added that “one of the best ways to create stage productions is to observe real life and inspire audiences with real stories.”
Amateur productions were also shown at the 13th China Art Festival and competed for the Qunxing Prize.
The performances were in line with the directive’s encouragement to further support cultural facilities and activities in grassroots communities.
“Cultural resources will also play a key role in revitalizing rural areas, and farmers are encouraged to organize their own art troupes, poetry festivals and exhibitions,” he said.
For the first time, this year’s Qunxing Prize was awarded to choirs and public square dancers.
A square dance called Together For A Shared Future was one of the winners of Qunxing this year. According to a Beijing Daily report, the routine has proven popular with dance enthusiasts, and more than 3,300 cultural centers across the country have performed the dance, which has been learned by around 60 million people.
“Square dancing has become a daily entertainment for many people. Combining music and dance, it is a fun cultural activity for people to enjoy while enjoying art,” said Wang Weibo, director of the Beijing Municipal Cultural Center.
One of the strengths of the new guideline is the development of cultural and artistic creativity and production involving a wide range of art forms such as literature, theatre, film, television, music, dance and the fine arts. Art institutions are encouraged to create works of art by expanding their online audience.
Traditional Chinese operas, such as Peking Opera, Kunqu Opera and Yuju Opera, have been revived through online streaming performances.
“Online platforms have become a second stage for traditional Chinese art forms, and as the guideline says, a new audience has been created through online platforms,” said Zhao Yafei, from the Cultural Exchange Center. overseas from Beijing.
In 2020, the center launched a series of online programs as part of a collective effort titled Culture Tour of Peking Opera, which invited Peking Opera artists and experts to participate in programs combining performance, master classes and tourism.
For example, Sun Ying, an intangible cultural heritage inheritor and a veteran craftsman working with the Beijing Play Equipment Factory, took an online tour of the facilities on August 8.
The factory produced the costumes worn by the great masters of Peking opera, including Mei Lanfang (1894-1961), Ma Lianliang (1901-66) and Cheng Yanqiu (1904-58).
According to Zhao, the online tour was seen by more than 2 million people, who learned about the masters of opera and how their costumes were created.
The Peking Opera Cultural Tour was launched to mark the 230th anniversary of the birth of Peking Opera, or jingju, which was recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010.