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China to showcase cultural heritage at biggest U.S. folklife festival

(Xinhua)

08:21, May 16, 2012

WASHINGTON, May 15 (Xinhua) -- China on Tuesday signed a deal to showcase its rich and colorful intangible cultural heritage at the 2014 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the largest annual outdoors cultural event held in the U.S. capital, to promote China-U.S. cultural exchanges and friendship.

On behalf of China's Ministry of Culture, Li Dongwen, minister counselor and head of the Office of Cultural Affairs at the Chinese Embassy in the U.S., signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Daniel Sheehy, director of Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage of the Smithsonian Institution, sponsor of the Festival.

Under the deal, China will send about 200 practitioners of intangible cultural heritage to the festival held at the National Mall of the U.S. in Washington, D.C. for ten days during summer 2014. The two sides agreed to form a joint group to work out the details on China's participation in the festival.

Li said he was very pleased to sign the deal with the Smithsonian Institution, as it will for the first time provide a rare opportunity for China to demonstrate the achievements in the protection of its intangible cultural heritage.

"This will provide an opportunity to enable the Americans, and people from the rest of world as well, to learn about China's culture and its protection of the intangible cultural heritage," Li said, adding China will focus on exhibiting its traditional performing arts at the festival.

Calling China's presence in the festival as a "great combination," Sheehy said this will enable the American people to experience Chinese traditions, lifestyles and cultures firsthand.

"I've been to China two times in my professional life. And one thing that I learned very early on was that China is blessed with an enormous array of diverse cultures, many regions, many traditions, great history, deeply rooted traditions with fine practitioners," Sheehy told Xinhua in an interview.

He added that his center will work closely with the Chinese side to take on the "enormous challenge" on creating the content of the festival in order to present "the breadth and depth of China in one festival over a ten-day period in Washington, D.C."

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, initiated in 1967, is an international exposition of living cultural heritage annually produced outdoors on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Over the years, it has brought more than 23,000 musicians, artists, performers, craftsmen, storytellers and others to demonstrate the knowledge, skills and aesthetics that embody the creative vitality of different cultural traditions.

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