Shanghai night school enriches locals' cultural life

(People's Daily Online) 17:34, August 04, 2021

Photo shows people attending a class at an art school in Shanghai. (Photo/Weibo account of xinmin.cn)

A night school for art that opened in 2016 in Shanghai has become a centre where young and middle-aged nine-to-fivers go to enrich their lives.

As a nonprofit art training program, the school targets people aged 18 to 55 who have to work during the day, according to Wu Penghong, curator of the mass art center in Shanghai, who is also the head of the night school.

The school syllabus lists 46 classes, ranging from dance, music and traditional culture, to lifestyle and fashion. Since 2016, the school has provided 135 classes, and recruited nearly 3,500 people, 90 percent of whom were born in the 1980s and 1990s.

Last November, 26 courses at the school which opened for the autumn term were fully booked shortly after they were made available for online application.

To satisfy people's rising demand for art education, this year, the school opened four branch schools in Jing'an, Xuhui, Changning and Hongkou districts of Shanghai, recruiting a total of 1,200 people for the five schools.

"The number of people recruited for the 2021 spring term has hit a record high, which means our school has gained more recognition," said Wu, who added that this also reflects working people's high demand for nighttime public cultural services.

For the autumn term of 2021, the school plans to open 86 courses and recruit 2,000 people.

The school has invited industry professionals to teach the students. Xu Yangyang, a fine arts teacher at the school, is also the curator of the Basel Art Space based in Shanghai. Courses on coffee are provided by Chen Feiting, a former judge of the China competition area of the World Barista Championship.

"We have invited a teacher from the Shanghai Theatre Academy to teach acting, and a chef from a five-star hotel to teach cooking. More institutes have expressed willingness to cooperate with us," said Wu.

Photo shows people attending a class at an art school in Shanghai. (Photo/Xinhua)

The school charges the students 500 yuan for 12 classes, and each class lasts 1.5 hours. "For a very long time, the market was dominated by art education for children and students, or for senior citizens. Art education for middle-aged adults is not widespread and the costs are high," said Yang Lingzhi, who is responsible for the night school project, adding that the situation has changed and night schools for art are becoming popular these days.

Yang said that the school continues to offer more fashionable and innovative new courses to attract young people. In addition to the light and shadow art course, Han costume dance, cross talk and short video making courses have also been launched.

Guo Weihong is an engineer who has learnt to play hulusi, a free-reed wind instrument, and guqin, a traditional Chinese musical instrument at the night school. Now, he is learning to play African drum there. "I have a good time here and the classes have really relieved my pressure," the man said.

"We hope that art centers become places people love and can afford to come to," said Ye Xiaoying, head of the school's Changning branch.

"Besides working with professional institutes, we also pay attention to the demands of citizens while developing the courses," said Yang.

(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Liang Jun)