Migrant workers' children delight in art center

By Zhang Fang
0 CommentsPrint E-mail China.org.cn, February 1, 2010
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"How does Beijing look in your eyes? This painting is what she looks like to an artist." Zhang Chuan pointed at a painting and explained it to the children who were all focusing on her.

This special guided tour at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) on Jan 31, was attended by 35 students invited from a primary school for children of migrant workers, giving them their first time to look at the contemporary art.

"I have to find a way to help them understand the meaning of each art production. They may not understand all, but I hope they can have a look and experience the art forms," said Zhang Chuan, the project coordinator from UCCA.

"The children of migrant workers usually don't have many chances to go to a museum or an art exhibition center, because their parents don't have time or can't afford the tickets. But they deserve the opportunity," said Zhang.

Students from Dongba Experimental Primary School listening to the explanation in UCCA on Jan.31 2010.[China.org.cn]

Students from Dongba Experimental Primary School listening to the explanation in UCCA on Jan.31 2010.[China.org.cn]

The art center launched "Rainbow Journey" project in May 2009, its aim is to provide children of migrant workers an opportunity to experience art.

"We invite children every two months to show them the latest exhibition in UCCA," said Zhang. "We also invite artists to teach the children in the workshop following the tour."

As the fourth event in this project, UCCA has doubled the number of participants with the cooperation of CAI, a nonprofit organization that provides arts and supports education to migrant children.

"We are really glad that we can work together, because CAI has more sources of migrant children and thereby we can benefits more," said Zhang.

Zhang also said the children are clever and creative, and the most important thing is they enjoy themselves.

Liu Yu, a 12-year-old girl from Sichuan Province, was concentrating on painting flowers in the workshop under the theme of "Our Life in the City." She said "I hope the city can be more beautiful and colorful, because it's polluted very badly."

"I'm very happy to be here. In the winter holiday, I don't really have things to do except homework." she added.

Judy Shen, the founder of CAI, said they have focused on migrant children for years. The 35 different-age students are the lucky ones picked from Dongba Experimental Primary School, in Beijing's Chaoyang District, which has a long-term cooperation with CAI.

"Because of the financial limitations, students only can receive the basic education in a migrant children school. Visiting an exhibition center is a great method to increase their imagination and curiosity as well as to be more interactive with each other," she said.

Guo Chunrong, headmaster of the school, said "It is a really rare chance for our students to visit here and learn about painting in a professional place."

As one of the most vulnerable groups of children in China, Shen said there are more than 400, 000 children of migrant workers living in Beijing currently, which is the highest number among other cities.

"But the figure is quite conservative and many of migrant children don't have access to the same education as other children in the city." Shen added.

According to Xinhua, there are more than 200 schools in Beijing for migrant workers' children and only 60 of them are recognized by the government.

Shen said since most of them are private schools, they charge each student around 600-800 yuan every term to maintain the operation and "it's not that easy for a migrant family."

However, "the tuitions fees are barely enough for running a school," said Guo. "We don't really have extra money to organize extra activities for the students and only can rely on the help from other groups."

"The help from CAI covers our deficiency and gives students opportunities to access to the activities like sports and paintings. They sponsor us equipments and teachers and now we have football classes every Thursday afternoon. The coaches are very professional and most of them are foreigners. There is no way to do this on our own." Guo said.

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