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Economic powerhouse shows its cultured side
By Qu Zhi

WHEN it comes to the Pudong New Area, most people tend to focus on its booming economy and financial achievements.

However, after 20 years of astonishing economic development, Pudong is now establishing itself as a cultural powerhouse, too, and showing the world a brand-new "culture name card."

Recently, it selected its "10 Best" - including architecture, culture and creative industries, historical resources, public performances and more.

Hundreds of subjects were considered in this event, creating a wonderfully diversified, often eye-popping selection.

In May 2012, the "10 Best" selection began with members of the public posting photographs of their favorite cultural attractions in the district on the official weibo (Chinese version of Twitter) account.

While the local government had an input - through civic vote and discussions by professionals - the public played a major role through votes.

At the end of February this year, the account had more than 20,000 followers accounts and tweets were forwarded more than 30,000 times, reported officials.

Some residents literally got on their bikes to participate. Hong Jinlong, who is in his 70s and lives in Zhangjiang area, rode his bicycle to a post office just to cast his vote.

"Pudong has been developed for more than 20 years, yet I've often heard it still described as a 'cultural desert'," he says.

But through the "10 Best" selection, Hong was surprised to see so many outstanding attractions.

"This means that our area has been developing better and better culture, and I'm thrilled about this," says Hong. "And it's not only for me, my daughter-in-law and grandchildren all voted for the 10 Best. Pudong culture will only flourish and if we all become involved."

With some input from academics and civic opinion, on Saturday night, the long list of public nominations was whittled down to the top 10.

Included in the Pudong New Area's "10 Best" are the China Art Museum; Shanghai Science and Technology Museum; Pudong Library; Shanghai International Music Fireworks Festival; and Shanghai Nanhui Peach Blossom Festival.

An official from the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture Radio, Film and TV told Shanghai Daily that the "10 Best" selected are popular with the public and "many have rich histories."

This event was also an opportunity to take a grand panoramic view of Pudong's stunning development.

From a fishing village to one of the most recognizable skylines in the world, it has come a long way.

And the top 10 list reveals that within Pudong in 2013 lies an astonishing diversity of attractions.

Here are some options for a one-day cultural trip in Pudong:

Begin your cultural extravaganza absorbed in the scientific charms of Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, within walking distance of Metro Line 2 Century Park Station.

Or immerse yourself among the books at Pudong Library, while the latest IMAX blockbuster might be available from its video hall.

Later on, you can head for to Yuanshen Sports Center, which has one of Shanghai's most established gyms, and enjoy a reasonably priced workout in an unpretentious community atmosphere.

If all that exercise has left you wanting a bit more culture, head to the China Pavilion-turned-China Art Museum in the Expo Park to view artworks, the Himalayas Center for amazing artefacts and designs, or perhaps learn something new at the China Maritime Museum.

As night approaches, fans of everything from classical music, opera and ballet to pop, should check out who's playing at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center and Mercedes-Benz Arena and enjoy an audio-and-visual feast.

And after all this activity, wandering along Bingjiang Avenue is a relaxing option, looking at the picturesque and spectacular view of the Bund and other landmarks reflected in the Huangpu River.

Of course, Pudong has much more in addition to these suggestions. Indeed, it is estimated that residents only have to walk for 10 minutes to find a culture spot.

Among nominations for the "10 Best" are cultural teams, cultural figures and public performances. These help bridge the distance between high art and ordinary Pudong residents, bringing a cultural feast to residents within their local communities.

Hundreds of performances are "delivered" to communities while almost every sub-district - including rural areas - can provide high quality "local cultural shows."

Meanwhile, the culture industry economy in Pudong is booming, too. Zhangjiang Cultural Industry Park gathers animation, media and other companies in the sector, which pays off handsomely through the year.

Substantive trade volume and incredible annual increase of more than 100% is proof of the flowering of Pudong's culture industry and its vital role in contributing to the area's GDP.

Throughout its development, Pudong has always upheld the ethos that cultural construction and economic development should proceed and promote synchronously.

"Economic hardware" and "cultural software" ought to be enhanced simultaneously, and Pudong is coming up with strategies for "more humanities and culture in the new area," according to the Pudong New Area's media department.

The success of the "10 Best" initiative in getting residents to contribute, together with the healthy state of the sector is confirmation that the Pudong New Area is creating its own strong cultural identity.

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