Debating China's Art Gallery Development
    2013-06-04 17:18:16       Web Editor: Liu Kun

The National Art Museum of China celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2013.[]


Hello and welcome to "In the Spotlight," a show featuring arts, culture and showbiz from right hereChina. I'm your host Wang Lu, sitting in for Jules Page.
First up on today's show, we'll take a look at the development of art galleries and museums in China. The National Art Museum of China celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and curators are discussing the future of China's cultural sector.
And we'll examine the new Chinese phenomenon of live music festivals. One or two decades ago, rock and electronic music was only enjoyed by a few. But now these genres of music have gone relatively mainstream. Today we look closer at music festivals in China.
Also, great news for "Transformers" fans. We have an exclusive interview with Marc Ganis, one of the producers of the movie's fourth installment. We'll be asking what's new in this film and how China plays a part.
So, plenty of entertaining and informative stories up ahead on "In the Spotlight". Stay Tuned.

Art galleries and museums have been growing across China in recent years. Public art galleries funded by the government has been established one after another and private ones also aspire to entertain and educate.
Shen Ting finds out what's behind this massive art movement in China.

At the ceremony celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National Art Museum of China, its curator Fan Di'an says although art galleries and museums have blossomed in recent years, the development of such agencies in the country is still vastly imbalanced.
"Firstly, the overall amount of public cultural facilities is still not enough. Also, the development of such facilities is imbalanced between the east and the west, and between villages and cities."
Fan also points out that problems also exist in the design and planning of art galleries and museums.
"We've also noticed that the functional design of some cultural facilities lack professional directions. For example the design of art galleries needs to take a warehouse, the height of floors, lighting, and public spaces like an information center and caf¨¦ into consideration. Besides, art galleries need to strengthen their software construction, like planning, its relations with local art and its consideration of modern art trends and so on."
For private non-profit art galleries that are different from public ones like the National Art Museum of China, the challenges in running and management are unique.
Gao Peng is deputy director of Today Art Museum in Beijing, China's first private, non-profit art gallery that focuses on contemporary art. He explains that urgent problems for them are problems involve finding sponsors and getting public understanding.
"First is the budget. Because we are not government funded, so we need to think about how to run the museum and where the sponsor comes from. The second problem is what the public thinks about contemporary art. Because before many people understood classical art but for the contemporary level, we need to do a lot of educational programs to help people understand 'Oh, that is contemporary art.'"
Art galleries and museums are a relatively new phenomenon in China. The National Art Museum of China, one of the country's earliest, as mentioned before, only celebrates its 50th birthday this year.
Curators of both public and private galleries feel the need to borrow experiences from countries with more mature mechanisms.
Gao Peng studied art gallery management in the UK last year. He compares the differences between Europe and China.
"Two parts are totally different. The first is about government funding. In Europe, not all but some very good private museums can get government funding. The second is about taxes. In London, if some patrons give some money to some private museums and cultural programs, they get some tax payback. But in China they do not. If the patrons get some tax payback, that means they will have more confidence to give more money for private museums."
Fan Di'an expresses the same concern as Gao regarding tax deductions. Plus, Fan says what art galleries in China should learn from their western counterparts is to put visitors first and create more visitor-friendly environments.
Gao on the other hand has noticed that running private art galleries in China has a promising market potential.
"In Europe the government is cutting budgets, so for galleries there it's not easy. Now some international brands are focusing on Asia, especially China, because Chinese are becoming richer and more people have enough money to buy some luxury brands. So we have more chances to communicate with some international brands and get some international sponsors and events."
While the industry is busy establishing new galleries, Gao wants to remain steady.
"You need to have a special area you want to focus on. For us, we focus on contemporary art and our mission is to promote Chinese contemporary art and to introduce international contemporary art to China. But now some private museums or galleries include traditional, contemporary, modern, post-modernˇ­ The public will misunderstand what they really want to talk about."
Another task for the new generation of private gallery owners, as Gao says, is that different from traditional curators who only have to handle connections with the government, the new generation is pressed to grow up and know how to communicate with sponsors and how to run a gallery as a cultural organization.
For CRI, this is Shen Ting.

Beijing has been heating up recently with a string of live music festivals, featuring acts from all around the world. Rock and electronic music festivals were pretty much unheard of a decade ago, but both their scale and audience outreach have enjoyed a meteoric rise in recent years.
Lucy Du has more on the thriving music scene in Beijing.

The fifth annual Intro Music Festival came to town over the weekend, taking over the industrial jungle of the disused Capital Steel Factory in Beijing's Shijingshan.
The event boasted 80 acts from a myriad of genres from Techno-House to Breakbeat, and everything in between.
The market for live music festivals has been expanding rapidly in recent years, reflecting a diversification of cultural taste of audiences in China's major cities.
DJ Ouyang is a techno-house artist with a two decade long career in the Beijing live music industry.
"I think people who come to music festivals are becoming increasingly diverse. Initially it was only people who were already exposed to electronic music, now there are people who bring their children and come here to enjoy the atmosphere and the surroundings. I think this is such a successful transition - it is bringing music to a wider audience. To bring new music to an old setting is a succesful integration of the two."
As a market in its infant stages of development, the music festival movement is spearheaded by a tough bunch of organizers and artists who are refusing to shy away from doing something different.
Michael Ohlsson is the founder of the Antidote collective and an organizer of MIDI festival, one of Beijing's largest and oldest. Ohlsson sees a wealth of opportunities for today's generation of Chinese artists.
"There's a lot of musicians and djs and electronic artists in China and i think alot of them are discouraged by the opportunities that they have. but actually there's fantastic opportunities out there if they're dedicated. you can tour the world, I think a lot of the young people think that they don't have the opportunities that they have in the Europe or the States but actually its better. It's exciting. When there's an exciting new band/producer, people get really really excited about it and they really put a lot of respect and energy behind it."
DJ Mickey Zhang is one of the home-grown acts who have carved out a stellar career from his passion for music. Since debuting in 1999, Zhang's innovative work has alerted the ears of international audiences, taking him across Europe and Japan.
"For a music festival like this to happen in China is really special. From a certain perspective, the government may not be totally supportive but for them to allow it to happen is a good sign. Perhaps the Chinese government is slowly realising that for people to pursue their individual ways of living is very important. The government should create more opportunities to allow each individual to choose. I think the government is starting to do that, to give a way to allow people to more freely choose their mode of living. Before the thought was unfathomable, but this happened."
Late last year, Beijing announced a ?1.4 billion investment into a ten-year project to expand "China Music Valley" in the Pingu area of the city. The future blazes bright for China's musical community.
For CRI, I'm Lucy Du.

June 1st marked the annual Children's Day and with it came many events designed for kids. One in particular was held at Beijing's Xiaoke Theater and attracted around 100 families.
"Jazz and children", a charity concert organized by the Beijing Nine-gates Jazz Festival, helps donate pianos to rural schools in China's northwestern Shanxi province. One particular highlight of the concert was a 13 year-old pianist who dazzled the audience with his performance.
Zhang Ru takes us to the 'Jazz and Children' charity concert for more.

The 90 minute concert included world famous jazz from the likes of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Thirteen-year old pianist A Bu and his band the A Bu Trio filled Xiaoke Theater with emotion.
A Bu may seem shy off stage, but he produces a powerful sound on the piano.
And he loves jazz.
"Jazz is the kind of music where you can use you imagination while you play. It's about telling others about what's going on in your heart."
Jazz musician Huang Yong, also the initiator of Beijing Ninegates Jazz Festival, is the man behind the charity event. He says jazz is like a child.
"Children don't like to be told what to do. They follow their instincts. Jazz musicians are the same. Jazz is improvised. It doesn't follow any rules."
Huang Yong said the idea of the concert came from a desire to do something for children.
"I have a child. She is healthy and happy and we have nothing to worry about materially. I have been devoted to jazz for many years but I suddenly realized I have done nothing memorable for children. I looked at my daughter and thought I should change this. "
Huang Yong was touched by the enthusiasm and generosity he received when talking to people about his idea.
"We consulted the Shanxi Provincial Charity Federation and the Education Bureau of Shanxi Province. They helped us a lot. I did a lot of research online and received lots of help from everyone I contacted, like the company that provided musical equipment, the delivery company helping to transport the pianos and Xiaoke that let us play in their theater for free."
Young pianist A Bu says he hopes the concert inspires other kids to take up music.
"Charity is about helping people in need. I hope children in rural Shanxi can really start to learn about music and enjoy themselves at the same time."
Organiser Huang Yong, however, has less lofty expectations.
"My wish is simple. I just hope children can get a chance to learn about music, literature and art. That's all. When they reach our age and feel life is beautiful, that's enough for me."
The concert raised over 40 thousand Yuan, which will go towards buying electrical pianos for schools in rural Shanxi.
Huang Yong said he was touched by the love and support generated by the concert. He also revealed there would be another one in a few years.
For CRI, this is Zhang Ru.

If a novelist writes about a noble family, keeping track of its love-and-hate relationships, major ups and downs, as well as trivial twists and turns, the book is almost assured of commercial success. Chinese female author Wang Anyi's latest work "Tian Xiang" or "Heavenly Fragrance" has all these elements. Beyond that, it vividly depicts a grand historical and cultural picture of 17th century China, which has won it overwhelming critical acclaim.
Xiangwei gives us her review of 'Tian Xiang' by Wang Anyi.

Wang Anyi is one of the most acknowledged and award-winning female writers in China. She is prolific as well. Her hometown, Shanghai is her always her muse. Wang's most famous work "The Song of Everlasting Sorrow" traces the life story of a Shanghainese girl from the 1940s all the way to the 1980s, and has become a must read for people who seek a peek into the everyday life of modern Shanghai.
Echoing that, Wang published "Tian Xiang" or "Heavenly Fragrance" in 2011, which depicts Shanghai in the late 17th Century when it was a small fishing port.
Li Jingze, a Chinese literary critic, compares the relationship of Wang and Shanghai to that of Balzac and Paris.
"What we can learn about a city from a novelist is more than what we can get from history books, map collections and archives. A novelist gives us more details about everyday life. Their description enlivens the place. And that makes the novelist important."
"Tian Xiang" is the name of a prosperous garden of a noble family living in a Shanghai suburb in the late Ming Dynasty. The name comes from the flowers growing in the garden, but later becomes the brand of the embroideries produced by the versatile hostesses of the garden.
Zhang Qinghua, a professor with Beijing Normal University, believes Wang's deep understanding of the embroidery's importance to ancient Chinese women that blesses her with 400 pages of all-round descriptions of their marriages, lives and thoughts.
"A lady in ancient China could not step out of her own loft until getting married. The loft was called the 'embroidery building.' When she became old enough to get married, sometimes she throws an 'embroidery ball' to pick her husband."
The novel also touches upon a whole array of different items deeply rooted in Chinese culture, including poetry, calligraphy, folk operas, gardens, architecture, clothes and cuisine, which cost Wang many years of research.
Li says the novel is a rich inspiration to today's readers.
"It tells stories of the late Ming Dynasty. It seems that it has nothing to do with our daily lives. But after reading through it you will feel the close bond between people and items. A lot of books are about the intermingled relationships among people. This one is an exception. Looking at how ancient people treated certain things, we can examine a more elegant way to treat each other and ourselves."
Beyond that, "Tian Xiang" looks back and observes the early historical, geographical, and commercial clues that makes Shanghai stand out today as a metropolitan city, which in Li's mind makes it an even greater work.
"A great work always contains two sides. One side is close to everyday people. They find the storyline interesting. They appreciate the intelligence of the women of southern China. Another side must focus on the larger world in which the characters live. At the same time, it also enables the literary critics to appreciate it."
Although "Tian Xiang" is a rather new work, published in 2011, it's already won the Red Mansion Award and also under translation. Hopefully, it will be soon available in English.
For CRI, this is Xiangwei.

Since the debut of the first "Transformers" movie in 2007, the franchise has become a box office hit.
Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon, grossed 165-million-US-dollars in China and over 1.1 billion-dollars worldwide.
Now Transformers fans in China are awaiting the release of the fourth installment of the franchise which is set to feature many 'Chinese elements'.
Siqi has more.

China and U.S. movie makers have announced the start of a cooperation regarding the production of "Transformers 4" in China.
The film will feature an array of Chinese actors and actresses, including Li Bingbing, who has just appeared in another Hollywood blockbuster Resident Evil 5.
Jiafix Enterprises is one driving force bringing the new arrangement to fruition.
Its president and co-founder Marc Ganis told CRI the new Transformers would not be just a throwing that has a Chinese face in it, but would feature many Chinese elements.
"Li Bingbing is in this movie because she's a wonderfully talented actress but the role that she's playing is an integral role and it is a Chinese character that could only be a Chinese character."
The film which is partly set in China will feature five or six locations throughout the country.
Ganis says China locations will make a strong appearance and have a strong connection to the plot:
"When I talk about just one place, again it's integral to the movie. There have been some wonderful movies out there recently. There are scenes that are in Shanghai or in another great city here. But they could have been in other great international cities like Rome or Moscow or Berlin and they chose to do it in a Chinese city. In this movie, these events could only be taking place in China."
Mr. Ganis says Chinese brands will be natural features in the movie:
"Uniquely, this film is not about way into the future, is not about way into the past. So that there is an opportunity for great Chinese brands to be viewed by 200 million people worldwide who are going to watch this movie when it comes out in 2014. And then hundreds of millions more are going to watch it on television, on DVDs or over the internet."
Ganis also says this cooperation not only benefit China, but also brings two cultures together.
"Actually I think it's a gain to the film, also. One of the great things about movies is that over the last 20 years, movies as an art form has been able to bring cultures together, and has been the best way to show one culture or one country what takes place in another country or another culture."
"Transformers 4" is set to open in summer 2014.
For CRI, this is Siqi.

And with that, we have come to the end of this edition of "In the Spotlight".
If you have any comments or suggestions, you can email us at You can also log on to our website at to learn more about today's topics or catch up on any of our previous editions.
I'm Wang Lu. Thanks for listening.


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