Top-level art festival opens amid effort to boost cultural sector reform

08:18, May 11, 2010      

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China opened its largest national art festival, an influential platform for Chinese performers to showcase their latest creations, in southern Guangdong Province Monday.

Beijing Opera artists Yu Kuizhi (L, center), Li Shengsu (C, center) and Meng Guanglu (R, center) perform during the opening ceremony of the 9th China Art Festival in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, May 10, 2010. The 9th China Art Festival kicked off in Guangzhou Monday. (Xinhua/Lu Hanxin)

The ninth China Art Festival, held in the provincial capital, was co-hosted by the Ministry of Culture and the Guangdong Provincial government.

Li Changchun, a Standing Committee member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said in a congratulatory letter that the festival would be "an art pageant of the people" and should contribute to the prosperity of socialist cultural development.

Li said that the festival, which was initiated in 1987, had become an important platform for artists to showcase their talent and had played an active role in promoting Chinese cultural and art development.

He hoped that it would attract more public participation and promote the creation of more outstanding cultural and art works.

State Councilor Liu Yandong announced the opening of the festival.

The art festival will feature 65 dramas from across the country that will compete for the "Wenhua" prize, the highest performance art award in China, a spokesman of the festival's organizing committee said.

More than 150 outdoor shows and exhibitions would also be held in urban squares and villages for the public, the spokesman said.

A trade fair of performance art, which organizers hope will become a regular feature, will be held during the two-week event. The last China Art Festival was held in 2007 in central China's Wuhan city.

Prof. Zhou Xiaozheng of Beijing-based Renmin University of China said performances showcased in the festival covered drama, opera, musicals and acrobatics, among others, which also include those listed as the country' s cultural heritage.

According to the organizer, the lowest price of the performance tickets is 20 yuan (2.94 U.S. dollars), and the number of low-price seats must be no less than 15 percent.

The festival opens as China steps up efforts to boost the reform of the cultural sector and transform most state-owned art troupes to market-oriented ones.

Statistics show 123 state-owned art troupes have been transferred to enterprises, which has boosted creativity and market awareness.

Wang Liesheng, a research fellow with the China Art Academy affiliated to the Ministry of Culture, told Xinhua that reform of the cultural sector will deepen during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015).

Minister of Culture Cai Wu said last week that by 2012 all state-owned art troupes should complete the market-based reform."To develop and invigorate the nation, China not only needs economic power, but cultural power as well," he said.
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