Arts and crafts to paint picture of prosperity

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Visitors examine Red Sun, an artwork from Tibet, during a 17-day exhibition at Chengdu International Finance Square in Sichuan province earlier this month. Gade, the artist, made the piece from strings of prayer beads to illustrate the region's culture.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Editor's note: This is the sixth in a series of stories about the Tibet autonomous region, focusing on the area's history, poverty alleviation measures and the cultural and business sectors.

Earlier this month, a 17-day exhibition of Tibetan art and culture held at Chengdu International Finance Square in Sichuan province attracted nearly 200,000 visitors.

About 30 works were displayed during the exhibition, which was organized by Tihho, a business in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet autonomous region, that promotes the area's arts and culture, and CIFS. The show, which offered visitors free access to paintings and other treasures, was aimed at deepening popular understanding of Tibet and its culture.

Fang Kun, one of Tihho's founders, began promoting Tibetan art and culture five years ago. He and three friends sited their headquarters in Lhasa, not only because they would be near Tibetan artists and their work but also because they were confident about the region's dynamic business environment.

"We wanted to become a bridge for cultural exchanges between Tibet and other areas," Fang said.

Last year, Xu Yingtao, from Heilongjiang province, also opened a company in Lhasa to help the regional government and local businesses promote Tibetan art and culture.

Xu described Tibet as a fledgling market, compared with the mature infrastructure in Southwest China's wealthy provinces, "but with many job opportunities and business possibilities", which is good news for startups.

A report published in November by the Tibet branch of the Communist Youth League of China and Tibet University noted that the region's business environment has flourished as a result of the efforts of startups in recent years.

By April 2017, a total of 11,036 small and micro businesses had registered in Lhasa, accounting for 67 percent of companies in the city, bringing greater dynamism to the local economy, the report said.

The businesses covered several sectors, with those related to catering, culture and retailing ranked highest.

However, the report also noted a number of factors that could affect startups, including the small number of ethnic Tibetan entrepreneurs and a lack of regulation in some sectors.

In response, local authorities have taken steps to encourage residents to start their own businesses, such as providing subsidies and simplifying procedures for dealing with government departments.

Thubthan Khedrub, a Tibet University professor who helped write the report, welcomed the measures, but said they do not go far enough. He suggested the government should offer more financial support, especially for younger entrepreneurs, and provide more training for entrepreneurs to improve Lhasa's business environment.

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