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The lucre of culture: Banks to make presence in the cultural market

(China Daily)

08:05, September 17, 2012

Visitors at a small outdoor market walk past paintings for sale in Beijing on Sept 8. (Photo/China Daily)

Culture is a lot more than just pretty pictures hanging on a wall, a ballet dancer gliding across a stage or a visit to a museum. Culture is also money, and in the cases of cities like London, Paris and New York, very big money indeed. Aware of the strong economic pulling power of culture, Beijing, with more than 3,000 years of history and a rich cultural heritage, is trying to shape itself into a world cultural metropolis on par with other renowned cultural centers.

Those efforts are being reinforced at a national level, where in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) the country's cultural and creative industry receives particular attention, and the sector has become one of the economy's most vigorous in recent years.

Beijing recorded the slowest economic growth among China's provincial-level jurisdictions in the first six months of the year and, surveying alternative areas for growth, has been looking to culture as one of the key industries.

"Encouraging Beijing's cultural and creative industry to develop is key to adjust the city's economic structure and change the way we grow," says Li Jiansheng, director of the institute of culture of Beijing Academy of Social Sciences.

"Culture is not only energy-efficient, but will also largely promote consumption and boost many related industries."

The vitality of Beijing's cultural and creative industry has already spurred local economic growth, particularly since the Olympics in 2008, he says.

"When you compare Beijing's cultural and creative industry with that of other big Chinese cities, looking at the value added and what that is as a proportion of GDP, Beijing is the leader," Li says.

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