Chongqing recently expanded its boundaries to become the largest municipality in the world with a population of some 20 million people. At the entrance to the Three Gorges it’s also the city competing with Chengdu for the title of western China’s cultural capital. In China, culture means edifices, administration and big art for the emerging middle-classes so the budgets are huge and the usefulness for local artists is miniscule. The Straits Times had this piece on the new focus on art and culture to court investors.
According to an official at the city’s cultural bureau, 10 large-scale cultural projects are set to rise out of the Yangtze mud. According to an official at the city’s cultural bureau, 10 large-scale cultural projects are set to rise out of the Yangtze mud.
They include a US$97 million theatre, a US$36 million library and a US$12 million Chinese modern art gallery – a cultural medium the authorities at times have trouble accepting.
‘Chinese cities these days are beginning to pay attention to the cultural needs of their citizens,’ said Mr Wei Dong of the Chongqing Federation of Literary and Art Circles.
Chongqing is not alone in this regard.
In the southern city of Guangzhou, government officials are now embarking on a five-year, US$1.3 billion investment in some 26 projects including libraries, concert halls, art galleries and museums.
And in the eastern city of Hangzhou, complaints by local citizens that they have to travel to neighbouring Shanghai for a concert have prompted the government to take action. Plans are being drawn up for local cultural venues.