CPPCC member suggests art colleges save art troupes

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, March 4, 2021
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An opera troupe performs in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province, on Jan. 28, 2021. [Photo/VCG]

A political advisor said in her proposal to the fourth session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) that the country's art universities and colleges should try to revive and protect local endangered art troupes.

Liu Yuening, a member of the CPPCC National Committee and professor at the Central Conservatory of Music, explained how she is worried for art troupes nationwide following the COVID-19 pandemic.

"As a front-line worker who has been teaching and performing in professional art academies for more than three decades, I am concerned about the troupes' survival after they were hit by the coronavirus outbreak," Liu said. "I know clearly that, if there is a problem with their living conditions, be it as a professional artist or a professional art school, it will be difficult to guarantee the quality of their artistic creations."

Before the pandemic hit, the development model for China's art troupes largely came from central funding and box office takings. As the Chinese government tried to reform the nation's art troupe system, some troupes had explored and innovated for several years to strengthen their own viabilities in the market and create a solid fanbase. But that was not enough. 

Except for those troupes in first-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou that can continue to make a profit, most troupes in China, especially traditional local opera troupes still face the threat of bankruptcy and closure. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many theaters were forced to shut down, making the situation even harder. 

"The closure of performance venues has made the living conditions for these troupes even worse. It has also presented great challenges to the inheritance and protection of the Chinese traditional cultural heritage carried by these troupes, so urgent support from relevant national authorities is much needed," she said. 

Liu believes that faced with the current COVID-19 situation, the performance market is unable to return to normal in the short term and therefore the Chinese government should continue to promote the construction of national cultural soft power through the use of art academies to incorporate endangered traditional art troupes in situ. It is hoped that this will allow China's grassroots artistic creative forces to reintegrate and revitalize to preserve their existing stock of artistic productivity, thereby enabling the forces of Chinese artistic creation to develop for the better.

In her proposal, the professor suggested a joint program between the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Ministry of Education to first determine which local art troupes are in serious need and then put them under the administration of local art academies, universities, and colleges.

Those art troupes that are taken over by higher education institutions can be transformed into Chinese cultural heritage and innovative art practice bases. Backed by the universities' production-study-research art research and innovative practice centers, the troupes can be given full play to the practical experience of new and old artists from the front line. This hopefully will not only motivate teachers and art students in schools to learn more about the art form but also lead them to embrace the market and create market-oriented performing art works. Eventually, this should revitalize the creative vitality of higher art education, enhance the stage experience of students in school, and play a role in helping teaching and learning.

Liu added that art troupe staff and actors can be hired by education institutions so that veteran artists can serve as mentors for graduate students and head special research programs while young artists can teach undergraduate courses, organize, and guide students' practical activities.  

The new session of China's top political advisory body will begin in Beijing on March 4.

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