The Chinese capital has conferred for the first time the honorary titles of "Beijing Arts and Crafts Masters" and "Beijing Folk Arts Masters" on 140 artists, the Beijing Municipal Economic Committee has announced.
The city has developed comprehensive categories of highly skilled arts and crafts with distinctive local features going back more than 900 years, a committee source said.
However, with increasing market competition in recent years, some traditional arts and crafts have been lost or endangered, and talented personnel have been decreasing.
To solve the problem, the municipal government has launched a preservation campaign involving the authentication and conferring of titles of masters on artists and crafts people.
The Beijing Arts and Crafts Group and the Beijing Arts and Crafts Association had appraised 152 arts and crafts masters and 12 folk arts masters in five groups between 1986 and 2002, the source said, adding that 24 of them have passed away.
The municipal government has set up a special fund to preserve and develop the traditional arts and crafts with an annual sum of 3 million yuan (US$360,000).
The masters are allowed to draw allowances of up to 800 yuan (US$96) every month for training apprentices, in a bid to promote the development and education of talented personnel, the source said.
Meanwhile, the masters are expected to become shareholders of the relevant arts and crafts enterprises by fixing prices for their skills and techniques.
The source said the city would build 100 studios for arts and crafts masters by 2005, with a total floor space of 35,000 square meters in Chongwenmen District.
(Xinhua News Agency March 11, 2003)