Shandong Special: Art fest preparations on schedule, in full swing
After hosting this year's art gala, the Shandong Culture and Art Center in Jinan will be a venue for regular art activities. Ju Chuanjiang / China Daily
The 10th China Art Festival organizing committee announced recently that preparations have gone smoothly for the upcoming national art gala, which is scheduled to kick off in October in Shandong province.
"Preparations involving the collection and creation of art work, performance rehearsals - including rehearsals for the opening and closing ceremonies - as well as venue construction are all well under way," said Xu Xianghong, head of the Shandong Department of Culture and deputy secretary-general of the festival's organizing committee.
"We are confident we can host a successful event that will further promote the development of grassroots culture and enhance the influence of Chinese arts in the international community," said Xu.
As one of the nation's top art galas, the event is sponsored by the Ministry of Culture.
It has been held every two or three years since 1987. Late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping wrote an inscription for the title of the event.
This year's festival will feature more than 20 kinds of events, including a national competition for more than 80 newly created plays, showings of excellent dramas from overseas and exhibitions of China's intangible cultural heritage items.
There will also be professional contests for various types of art forms, including Chinese opera, singing, dance, acrobatics, painting, calligraphy, and quyi - a folk art that combines singing and storytelling.
"Most of these performances and competitions will be staged in all the 17 cities of the province to enable as many people as possible to enjoy and benefit from the event," said Xu, who stressed that the event would be a gala "by the people, for the people and of the people".
To fulfill this goal, so far this year more than 10,000 art performances and 52,000 cultural activities have been held in schools, villages, residential communities as well as public squares in urban and rural areas across the province.
A total of 280 million yuan ($45.7 million) has been allocated by the provincial government to support the creation of art during the past three years. The move has helped the province create more than 1,100 grassroots cultural projects and 62 excellent musicals, dramas as well as other plays.
Among them, 39 have been selected to be shown and compete for top prizes at the upcoming art festival, which places Shandong the first among all the participating provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions.
The province also plans to pour as much as 9.8 billion yuan this year into the construction of new culture and art facilities.
Chen Zhong, deputy chief of the venue construction department for the festival, said construction of all the 13 new venues for the festival is now nearing completion and they can be operational by next month.
One of the projects is the 5.65-billion-yuan Shandong Culture and Art Center, the festival's main venue.
Located in the provincial capital Jinan and covering an area of 32 hectares, the complex features a theater, a gallery, a museum, a cinema, shopping malls, as well as facilities for the creative industry.
Chen said the provincial and local governments will organize regular art activities at these venues and keep most of them open to the public for free after the festival.