The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Presenter Interview
Pioneers of China's contemporary independent arts scene   Caochangdi Work Station
Zhang Xian is an independent art director who also heads his own dance company, Zuheniao.

Yuejie Fringe Festival was first held in 2005 and featured works from Japan for the first time in its 3rd holding in 2007. There were four works including one China-Japan collaborative production (produced by R PRODUCTION, Ryoko Kikuchi).
_OM-2 Production No.5
_Min Tanaka
_Marebito-no-Kai Cryptograph
Can you give us an outline of the festivals you do?
Wen Hui: We do festivals in the spring and autumn. In the spring is our May Festival and our autumn festival is called the Crossing Festival in October. Their contents are documentary film and performing arts. And, from 2006 we have added our Young Choreographers Project.

Will you tell us in some detail what the performing arts category includes?
Wu Wenguang: Things have only just begun, and since the first 2005 holding, the contents, scale and venues have changed each year. In the spring of 2005 we held symposiums and workshops at Caochangdi Work Station and performances were held in neighboring Dashanzi as part of a “Dashanzi International Arts Festival.” The main venue was 798 Space, a 1,200 square meter art space created from a renovated old factory. As the first “Crossover Arts Festival” in the autumn of 2005, there were only three works performed. One of these was our Living Dance Studio performance and the other two were works from the Netherlands and Austria. We held the performances at Nine Theater, a space recently outfitted as a small public theater inside a culture hall of Chaoyang District where Caochangdi Work Station is located.
    By 2007 the festival grew in scale to the point where we had a total of ten works on the program, including four from Beijing, two from Shanghai, one from Guangzhou and foreign works from Italy (1) and the Netherlands (2). From 2007 the performances, workshops and symposiums, all of the programs were held at Caochangdi Work Station for both our spring and autumn festivals.
    The autumn Crossover Arts Festival began a tie-up with a Shanghai festival from 2006. It is the Yuejie Fringe Festival (*2) directed by Zhang Xian (*1). Both are festivals dedicated to the pursuit of new forms of physical expression and their programs are made up mainly of experimental works. By holding these festivals in the two cities simultaneously, they can exchange works to provide fuller programs and the artists are given the opportunity to perform before a larger audience.

What are the contents of the Young Directors Project you began in 2006?
Wu Wenguang: I mentioned earlier our partnership with our friends in the Netherlands and this project is also operated with financial support from them. It is a program that supports young independent artists who, like ourselves in the past, seek to create works freely. We solicit plans for works from them and provide the chosen applicants with a grant of 2,000 Yuan (approx. 300 USD). It is a very small amount considering the cost of creating a work, but it is still enough to be an important motivating factor for these artists. We hope that young artists will use this grant to help them strive for the next higher level in their artistic development.
    In our first Young Directors Project in 2006, eight proposals received grants to create works that were then performed at our May Festival. Of these, three were given additional grants for further development and then got the opportunity for performances at the autumn two-city festivals, the Crossover Arts Festival and the Yuejie Fringe Festival.
    For the 2nd Project in 2007 we received 20 proposals from around the country. The genre included not only dance but also literature, film, visual art, architecture, electronics and economics. We added another judge besides the two of us and selected 14 proposals to receive the grants and an opportunity to perform their finished work at our May Festival. It became far more than the eight projects we had originally intended to chose, but we wanted to provide performance opportunities to as many young artists as possible.

How do you get the funding to invite foreign works and instructors?
Wu Wenguang: We go directly to the embassies or corporations of the country where the artists are from and ask for support. It is not a case where the artists are asked to find their own grants or financing.
    There are times when we get proposals from foreign groups who find out that we invite foreign works and they are seeking an agreement in which we provide all the costs involved in the performance venue, but since we are not a public facility receiving a budget from the government. We are a privately run facility that cannot afford that kind of arrangement. Rather, if we don’t get production fees and the fees involved in theater use, we can’t pay for the labor or advertising costs involved for the performances.
    We have no trouble earning our own living. I can do planning and filming jobs and Wen Hui gets many offers to perform at parties organized by the television stations. Because we are busy now, we have cut back on the number of these types of jobs we accept but they still provide sufficient income for us.

Are you interested in Japan’s performing arts?
Wu Wenguang: Of course we are. My favorite company is Dumb Type.
Wen Hui: So far there have been two Japanese artists studying in Beijing who have participated in out Living Dance Studio productions. A young Japanese lighting technician whom we met in London in 1997 has also participated in our productions.
Wu Wenguang: However, unfortunately, until now we have not been able to invite any Japanese works. Funding is a big problem in such cases.
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