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Festival of Culture and Art grows this year
By Qu Zhi

The third annual Pudong New Area Festival of Culture and Art is the longest and most diverse of the culture extravaganzas in Shanghai to date.

This year’s event, which kicked off last month and lasts until November 23, is comprised of 246 main events, 278 secondary events and 124 community events.

For the first time the festival extended its reach outside the country.

In August, the festival went abroad as the Lujiazui Folk Orchestra made its debut performance at the Kuopio Music Center in Finland.

The orchestra demonstrated the charm of Chinese folk musical instruments such as the zither, dulcimer, erhu (two-stringed bowed musical instrument), pipa (Chinese lute) and flute. They adapted classical music written by iconic Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, which they performed with folk instruments.

Nearly 500 people attended the performance. “We were surprised at its popularity,” says a Pudong Cultural Department official surnamed Lu. The audience “was very passionate and we ended up with an encore.

“Music really crosses national borders and languages ... The observations and acceptance of the locals in Finland surprised me and made me appreciate the importance of cultural communication,” Lu says.

The festival should satisfy most people, no matter what their tastes, Lu says. “This year the festival encompasses many genres and art forms.”

Festival brochures can be found in many public service locations in Pudong, such as the Pudong Library.

The ongoing festival also has gotten extensive participation and support from society, Lu says. A total of 54 social groups and professional institutions paid almost all of the total cost of over 59 million yuan (US$9.8 million), officials say.

“Despite funding support, the Pudong government is dedicated to supporting privately funded museums in many ways, like providing publicity using the advantages of government,” Lu says.

One of the festival’s aims is to familiarize the public with the fine arts, and 38 high-quality exhibitions will be held at venues including the Pudong Library, Long Museum and Himalayas Museum. The public will have free access to admiring various artworks such as calligraphy, photography, oil painting, woodcarving, and collections of fine art and modern art.

Among those participating, the Long Museum (Bldg 210, 2255 Luoshan Rd), opened in 2012, is a private museum that showcases a wide range of Chinese traditional art, Chinese revolutionary art, and modern and contemporary art. The founders, Liu Yiqian and Wang Wei, are experienced collectors and art aficionados who have been collecting for nearly 20 years.

In addition to their regular collections, including ancient calligraphy, porcelain and jade, an exhibition entitled “Clues of Asia — Asian Contemporary Art from the Long Collection,” is currently underway until October 27. The show focuses on the contemporary artworks created by 30 artists from Asian countries including Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia.

At Pudong Library Exhibition Hall (88 Qiancheng Rd), an exhibition closely related to whimsical daily life starts from next Sunday. The five-day event, “2013 Beautiful Life — Chinese Designer Exhibition,” hosted by Shanghai Blue Sky Art Center showcases furniture, lights, housewares and stationery designed by six Chinese designers. The wall is hung with the sketches of prototypes, photos of inspiration and text materials.

“Design is inspired by life, so it should come back to life and work for it. This exhibition aims to grant a view of the beauty of modern life and introduce to visitors more great local designers of whom we’re proud,” says Gong Zheng, curator of the exhibition.

The festival helps cultural institutions communicate more with the public, learning what they want and need. It helps a lot in the development of cultural groups, Gong says.

Shanghai Himalayas Center (1108 Meihua Rd) is participating in the festival for the first time, bringing together 10 events, eight performances and art exhibitions.

There are also hundreds of performances during the art and cultural extravaganza — from drama to ballet, Beijing opera to symphony, poem recitations to jazz.

As the city’s longest-running music festival, JZ Festival has become a strong part of the Pudong Festival of Culture and Art. The fest this year at the Expo Park (1700 Expo Ave) features jazz, blues, funk, soul and many different genres from September 20 through October 19.

A group of A-list musicians and artists will come to Shanghai including the US jazz band Jack Dejohnette Group and American R&B, pop and jazz singer Patti Austin.

Another part of the festival, the 2013 Binjiang Music Festival, starts in October and will be held in the central green area of Lujiazui, providing office workers in the area with a perfect chance to relax after work. There will also be an art exhibition, flea market and artist workshops at the venue.

For detailed event schedule, go to public service locations to get the festival brochures, such as the Pudong Library.

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