Rural art gallery promotes integrated development of culture, tourism in E China's Zhejiang

(People's Daily Online) 13:32, June 11, 2024

While inheriting rural culture, a rural art gallery in Yudong village, east China's Zhejiang Province also boosts the integrated development of culture and tourism, contributing to rural vitalization in an all-round way.

The art gallery has six art masters' studios, where famous artists come to engage with villagers every year.

Yudong, located in Gouxi town, Kecheng district of Quzhou city, is famous for its farmer paintings. The development of paintings in the village dates back to the 1970s. Back then, the local cultural center started to organize painting training, and several residents from the village began to learn the skill, including Zheng Genliang.

Photo shows a farmer painting about Yudong village, Quzhou city, east China's Zhejiang Province. (Photo/Zheng Limin)

Zheng then could earn an extra of tens of thousands of yuan (1 yuan is equal to $0.14) from wall paintings annually.

Realizing that paintings could increase their incomes, more and more villagers mastered the skill and made a better living through it.

Yudong also strived to create better conditions for the villagers to create art.

In 2015, Yudong came up with the idea of building an art gallery, which was backed by the township and district governments.

Five years later, a rural art gallery covering a construction area of 4,200 square meters was inaugurated in Yudong.

Most of the works displayed in the art gallery are created by villagers, with the subjects of the paintings ranging from agricultural production to things that emerged in recent years, like shared dining halls, shared laundries, and rural music concerts. The vibrant colors and compositions of the paintings reflect the changing rural lifestyle.

"While spreading local culture, the art gallery also provides a space for exchanges between local creators and visiting tourists and artists," said Yu Xiaoqin, Party chief of Yudong.

Students visit the rural art gallery in Yudong village, Quzhou city, east China's Zhejiang Province against the backdrop of wall paintings. (Photo/Li Dong)

Today, Yudong is home to one member of the China Artists Association and 10 members of the Zhejiang Artists Association. Paintings drawn by Yudong's farmer-turned-painters are exhibited in museums in cities, including Beijing.

"The art gallery is an important window to showcase local culture and has always been open to the public free of charge. We welcome friends from all over the country," said Yu Bin, a guide at the art gallery.

The art gallery in Yudong has attracted more and more tourists, thanks to its rising fame. Taking this as an opportunity, the village has further developed rural tourism.

A tourism company was established in Yudong in 2019 to tap into the village's tourism resources. Today, it is also in charge of the art gallery's operations, as well as the development of relevant cultural and creative products, educational tours and other cultural and tourism programs.

A wide array of cultural and creative products featuring elements of farmer paintings, including wallets, umbrellas, and ceramics, are displayed at an exhibition area of the art gallery.

In addition to independent design, Yudong has collaborated with institutions like the China Academy of Art to develop nearly 100 types of cultural and creative products, helping increase the villagers' incomes.

Li Dong, head of the tourism company, said the company handed over more than 400,000 yuan in operating income to the village collective in 2023. So far this year, the village has received 42 educational tour groups. During peak periods, around 10,000 students visit the village each month.

Last year, the output value of Yudong's farmer painting-related industries reached nearly 30 million yuan, and the village received 500,000 tourist visits.

"We will continue exploring the development of the art gallery, developing rural tourism, and promoting the integrated development of culture and tourism," said Yu Xiaoqin.

"Thanks to the art gallery, the artistic atmosphere in our village has become stronger. We often visit the art gallery to enjoy exhibitions in our free time," said Yu Chunliang, a 71-year-old villager who has engaged in farmer paintings for over 30 years.

Under his influence, his daughter Yu Yunmei began to draw farmer paintings more than 10 years ago. Now, several of her paintings are exhibited in the art gallery. She also earns from drawing wall paintings and prize money by taking part in painting competitions, and has three apprentices.

Since December 2023, the rural art gallery has been organizing a public welfare activity for tourists once every weekend. It also launched a new initiative of creating and exhibiting farmer paintings on tablet computers.

Art contributes to the rural development of villages in Zhejiang. As of the end of December 2023, Zhejiang had established a total of 692 rural museums, including exhibition halls, cultural centers, and many rural art galleries like the one in Yudong village.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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