Chinese artists seek secret to global success


JINAN, Oct. 19 — As China hosts an international arts festival in its eastern province of Shandong, experts from home and abroad are weighing in on the key for Chinese performers to gain international success.
The 10th China Arts Festival, which runs from Oct. 11 to Oct. 26, is bringing nearly 2,000 performances, including orchestra concerts, dance shows, musicals and operas from home and abroad to Shandong. But the focus of many at the event has been on how China can develop a domestic cultural industry that remains weak when considered alongside the country’s status as the world’s second-largest economy.
“Chinese artists should be more passionate and cultivate works that strike a chord in the hearts of overseas audiences,” said Yannick Rieu, a Canadian composer and saxophonist who has delighted audiences with his shows at the festival.
In his view, it would be especially interesting to see works on China’s history playing abroad. “China is a country with a long history and rich cultural resources, but few works about its glorious past have been seen in the international cultural field until now,” Rieu told Xinhua.
Since 2002, Chinese central authorities have encouraged reforms in the country’s cultural sector. A blueprint to strengthen the arts was formulated at the sixth plenary session of the 17th Communist Party of China Central Committee in 2011, stressing that culture is emerging as an important part of the country’s competitiveness.
Under the drive for reform, theaters have aimed to expand their influence abroad in recent years.
As one of China’s leading troupes, the Shanghai Ballet has tasted the sweetness of overseas success. “Our adaptation of ‘Jane Eyre’ has been staged five times in England since its debut in November 2012, with a revenue of about 50,000 yuan (8,205 U.S. dollars) for each performance,” said He Dong, production manager with the troupe.
This points to the value of investment in this field. “We spent more than 4 million yuan on the adaptation of ‘Jane Eyre,’ but the cost was recovered within a year,” according to He.
The China Opera and Dance Theatre, which is a national-level troupe, has also attached great importance to international touring.
“Previous overseas performances were largely organized by cultural authorities, with a cast of about 20 to 30 performers each time,” said Fan Ming, deputy director of the troupe’s performance center. The China Opera and Dance Theatre, however, will organize for an acting team of more than 100 people to perform in three cities in Australia next month.
Fan said that exploration of the overseas market has just started, and added that “Confucius,” a song and dance drama about the ancient Chinese thinker, is in rehearsal and will target foreign audiences.
Like Yannick Rieu, He Dong believes that there is appetite for more Chinese elements in performances abroad. “We should recommend more unique Chinese works, such as folk music, to attract a foreign audience,” the production manager urged, while also saying that government support is necessary for the arts to spread beyond China.H While the exotic nature of Chinese culture could in many cases attract audiences in other countries, there are some styles of performance that would not appeal. For example, Chinese theater’s emphasis on stage art over story is cited as an obstacle.
Referring to the need for adaptation in cultural exports, Li Xiaojie, general manager of the Shenzhen-based Oriental Charm Culture-Transmitting Co., Ltd, said, “Chinese classical works should step out of China and into the overseas performing market.”[db:内容2]