"Small but Beautiful and Exquisite" Developing Route Excavates Cultural Energy

Released on:2019-04-03


Deliberately elaborating the cultural band map

In the recently announced Shanghai Magnolia Stage Performance Award, Elena Lemzer became the only foreign winner for the performance "Mother Courage and Her Children" of Shanghai Jing'an Modern Drama Valley. In 2018, Shanghai Jing'an Modern Drama Valley brought 36 high-quality performances of 17 plays from 8 countries, with an average ticket issuance rate of 94.33%, attracting about 31,000 visits from audience to the theater. This year, the drama valley is to set a new high, and 80% of and 100% of 19 plays from 11 countries will premiere in China and Shanghai respectively. "Jing'an Modern Drama Valley is the only district-level project among the top ten cultural brand activities in Shanghai." The relevant official of Jing'an District Bureau of Culture and Tourism said frankly that Jing'an, which is based on the small but beautiful and exquisite development route and adhering to the linkage between the government and the market, can also create its own large cultural brand even without the "large cultural landmark" in the traditional sense.

Intensively cultivating and building a three-dimensional cultural network

As the core area of Shanghai, Jing'an District has exerted an obvious "dock" effect, and has a naturally strong ability to attract foreign high-quality cultural projects; and at the same time, Jing'an District has been emphasizing the "source" and fully excavating its own ability on cultural content creation. In these two days, two documentaries "Shaanxi North Road" and "Jiangning Road" have evoked the memories of countless Shanghai people of a city and a period of time. How were the two "extremely Shanghai-style" documentaries created? Recently, Jing'an District Bureau of Culture and Tourism released a guide for the declaration of special funds for cultural development in Jing'an District in 2019, and "Shaanxi North Road" and "Jiangning Road" were the top two projects on the list of special funds in 2018.

The culture of "Road" has always been a focus of Jing'an District. Not long ago, a project themed "Passing by Jing'an" also attracted much attention. The choice to tell the story of "Road" fits perfectly with the cultural brand positioning of Jing'an District. Specifically, on the one hand, Jing'an District plans to build a strong cultural area with the "most international and Shanghai style". On the other hand, Jing'an District has chosen the development route of intensive cultivation for specific cultural projects because the ultra-large cultural landmark is not planned to settle here.

In Jing'an District, you can stop and enjoy a performance at the Jazz Festival in the Jing'an Park on Nanjing West Road after listening to the "Network Novels Forum" presided over by writer Chen Cun in the charming Shaanxi North Road. Also, you can watch a traditional cultural play delivered by the public cultural project to the community at the door; and when going out, you can buy a ticket to Jing'an Modern Drama Valley and watch an international drama at an inexpensive price. This is a three-dimensional cultural network built by Jing'an District through the linkage between the government and the market.

Tempering the true and great brand through small efforts with time

Jing'an District Bureau of Culture and Tourism has always been an institution with high aspirations on the cultural content creation. "A lot of cultural activities came from ideas at the beginning, and then we talked about them and felt particularly appropriate. With the supporting policy of Jing'an District, they were eventually made into cultural brands," said the person in charge of Jing'an District Bureau of Culture and Tourism. The "Network Novels Forum" of Shaanxi North Road was created by famous writer Chen Cun and the staff of the Bureau of Culture and Tourism through a small talk, "It was officially promoted after finding a supporting policy of special funds for cultural development. The forum is held once a month and has been held for three years, with more than 100,000 online hits each time. It has become a cultural brand."

The district special funds of cultural development do not pursue "large-scale and complete" projects. Taking the performing arts projects as an example, the project in a certain scale now is also based on the supporting of government, developed by mobilizing various resources, and established from a small scale step by step. "The strategy of Jing'an is to take the "small but beautiful and exquisite developing route first." This person in charge told the reporter that in the name of Jing'an Modern Drama Valley, the word "Valley" has a natural gathering effect, connecting various dotted distribution theaters such as Daning Theatre, Yihai Theatre, Majestic Theater, STA Theatre, Jing Theatre and Shanghai Centre Theatre into a line. The Jazz Festival, held in May each year, has been held for 12 years. After receiving the continuous support from the district government, it has changed from a small public welfare activity at the beginning to an event with public welfare and market in synchronization. "The festival runs for three days, with three performances, each in the morning, afternoon and evening respectively, and three major sections including one for commercial performances in the theaters, one for free open performances in Jing'an Park, which is radiating to the Nanjing West Road meanwhile, and one for public welfare training that will be extended to the whole year. Through 12 years of efforts, like Jing'an Modern Drama Valley, the Jazz Festival now has a great influence in the city."

“Being close to the real life” doesn’t mean low-quality or fraud

In the process of building the Asian Performance Center in Shanghai, the theatre gathering effect in Huangpu District is obvious, the development of Xuhui River Bank has its own characteristics, and Jing'an also has its advantages. Recently, the District Cultural Bureau invited cultural celebrities in Jing'an to hold a symposium, including nearly 200 people, such as composer Chen Gang and writer Zhao Lihong. “Cultural events and activities are initiated and driven by people. Giving full play to the personal advantages of cultural celebrities can drive and lead the development of Jing'an culture and create more cultural brands.”

"This year's declaration of support fund emphasizes the premiere and the first exhibition, pays attention to the quality of the content itself, and also shows Jing'an's willingness to give artists more opportunities to explore and try." Recently, Jing'an District Bureau of Culture and Tourism released the 2019 Guide of Special Fund Declaration for Jing'an District Cultural Development. At the same time, the distribution and collection of public cultural projects kicked off. Two principals concerned publicized to cultural subjects and answered their questions on the site. "The supporting responsibility of the government is providing a platform instead of taking charge of all tasks, while the cultural administrations shall play their greater role in motivating various social forces of the district to have them gathered and unleash their energy."

The standard will never be lowered despite that various parties are sincerely invited to participate in. As principal of Jing'an District Bureau of Culture and Tourism revealed, the cultural fund will focus on supporting mainstream projects of public welfare, which means those projects are closely associated with the people. However, Jing'an District has arranged expert review. "Being close to the real life doesn’t mean low-quality or fraud." Each year, cultural funds provide aid for nearly fifty projects with a declaration passing rate of only 1/3. If project still cannot be well developed after funding, Jing'an District Bureau of Culture and Tourism will adopt rigorous supervision measures. What was found by the reporter in documents is that there was an organization funded but put on record since it was fined RMB 50 for tax issues by Jing'an District Tax Bureau.

"No matter the task is to participate in the building of the Asian Performance Center or to distribute public culture to communities, we introduce all of these policies based on one consistent goal, that is serving our citizens and popularizing the cultural brand." Principal of Jing'an District Bureau of Culture and Tourism expressed, "We are looking forward to taking the lead to adopt measures with characteristics of Jing'an District in Shanghai."