Visitors examine products inspired by cultural heritage on Sunday at an expo coinciding with the 12th China Art Festival in Shanghai. The festival opened on Monday.GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY
There’s a genre to please every art lover – from dance and stage drama to folk opera – at the 12th China Art Festival, which officially opened on Monday in Shanghai.
More than 1,200 works of calligraphy, photography and paintings are also on display at the festival, which runs for more than two weeks.
This is the first time Shanghai has hosted the event, the largest and most important national celebration of art and culture organized by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which has taken place every three years since it was launched in Beijing in 1987.
The festival aims to present the country’s latest developments in art, theater and culture through exhibitions and stage shows by both professional performance groups and grassroots communities.
Two awards – the Wenhua (Splendor) Award for professional stage performances and the Qunxing (Galaxy) Award, the country’s top prize for amateur artistic works – will be presented at the end of the festival.
As a highlight of the event, 51 performing arts productions, including folk operas, children’s plays, dance theater shows, musicals and concerts, will undertake 102 performances in 19 theaters.
“As it is a festival, it is important to bring performances, artworks and cultural products to the people,” said Yu Xiufen, head of Shanghai’s culture and tourism bureau. “We will also host more than 60 charity performances, taking artists to neighborhoods, public areas and schools.”
Sixty percent of the tickets for the shows, which cost up to 380 yuan, are mid to low price, Yu said.
Marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the festival is a mix of reinterpreted classics and new creations inspired by true stories to showcase the nation’s ancient heritage and modern, contemporary life, the organizers said.
The opening show presented at the Shanghai Grand Theatre on Monday, The Eternal Wave by Shanghai Dance Theatre, typifies those sentiments.
As one of the three stage productions from the host city to compete for the Wenhua Award, the play is based on the true life of revolutionary martyr Li Bai. It tells the story of a communist underground telegraph operator working in grave danger who is shot on the eve of Shanghai’s liberation.
Determined to create a revolutionary-themed production for contemporary generations, Shanghai Dance Theatre made new explorations in the choreography, narrative and aesthetic presentation, said the theater’s director, Chen Feihua.
Since its trial performance in December, The Eternal Wave has had more than 20 performances across the country, winning high praise from audiences and academics.
The diverse offerings of the festival also include a ballet inspired by paintings in the Mogao grottoes of Dunhuang and the back story of China’s first domestically manufactured aircraft.
A total of 84 public performing art shows, selected from 790 projects from over China by local cultural and tourism administrations, also competed for the Qunxing Awards from May 16 to 19 in the categories of dance, music, theater and quyi – traditional Chinese folk performances combining theater with talk show and ballad singing.
The competition was live streamed on cloud platforms supported by local cultural administrations, and total views are expected to reach 10 million.
Also part of the festival is an expo of cultural and creative merchandise for performing arts, which takes place at the Shanghai Exhibition Center from May 19 to 22.
The festival also includes an exhibition of award-winning paintings, calligraphy, seal making and photographic works from across the country, which opened at the China Art Museum in Shanghai on Monday.
The exhibition, which will run until Aug 14, has almost 1,000 pieces on display.
The festival will end on June 2 when the 16th Wenhua Award is presented to 10 winners.