The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Presenter Interview
A China Impact in the arts The performing arts in a privatizing China
Wu Weiqing: As Director of the Guangdong Provincial Arts Research Institute, Wu Weiqing came to TPAM 2004 to make a presentation titled “The Status of Performing Arts in Guangdong Province,” which talked about the movement toward privatization in the performing arts in China’s regional capitals. In addition to his role as the Institute’s director, Mr. Wu is president and chief editor of the Guangdong Arts Magazine Company and an active arts critic. All these activities make him a key person for information about the performing arts in Guangzhou.

Wu Weiqing
Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China
Director, Guangdong Provincial Arts Research Institute

The Guangdong Province Arts Research Institute is an information hub for all kinds of information about the arts in Guangdong Province. My personal experience running the Guangdong Arts Magazine Company and publishing an arts magazine makes me keenly aware of the importance of the job of the gathering and disseminating information. As part of our efforts at the Institute to make information more accessible to people, we launched our “Arts Data Bank” as China’s first arts related database. After three years of preparatory work, our “Guangdong Culture Website” went on line in 1999.
This database divides information into nine categories, such as Music, Dance, Artists and Theater Theory, and makes it possible to run online searches for information from all of the arts related material we have compiled at our Institute. The materials available on this site range from research papers on the theory and methodology in the performing arts to reviews of productions and recommendations introducing new creative works, reports and analysis on various cultural phenomena in China and abroad, as well as information about the Guangdong culture and arts scene.
To launch this site we invested about one million yuan (approx. 120,000 USD), and since then we have spent an additional 300~500 thousand yuan in way of operating cost. Presently, the site is only in Chinese, but in the future I would like to see us making information about the unique arts of Guangdong province available not only throughout China but overseas as well.

Guangzhou has become a very advanced commercial center among Chinese cities, which means that works of art having commercial elements are readily received and appreciated. For example, in the music theater segment including opera and musicals, we have seen a very successful production of Japan’s Takarazuka theater (10 performances) in Guangzhou in 2000. I saw the performance myself and was very moved by it. In the hardware aspects of staging such performances, however, China still has some catching up to do.
In September of 2002, our Institute invited Japan’s Toen Theater Company to China for a series of performances of two productions in the cities of Shanghai, Nanjing and Guangzhou. What made the tour possible was the fact that one of these two productions was an experimental work in which we had one of the directors affiliated with our Institute, Wang Jiana, directed the Japanese company in a performance of a Chinese play.

Today, directors like Wang are running their own “theater workshop” studios where they are involved in creating their own independently financed productions, which is a new and revolutionary development here in China. We want to give our full support to help strengthen these types of activities from now on. We also want to make efforts to answer market needs by encouraging the participation of new investors and cultivating an audience for the performing arts and generally working to raise the overall level of arts in Guangdong province.
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