Meeting recaps profound past of unique cultural existence
enues being innovated to keep up with times
Published: Sep 04, 2023 10:33 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

An exhibition was held during a two-day meeting to recap the past of 3,503 cultural centers that have provided spiritual support to citizens across the country since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Having existed for decades, they are now innovating to keep up with the times.

The comprehensive exhibition showcases the abundant historical development of public cultural centers and their contributions was held for the first time in China during the 2023 China's Public Cultural Center Annual Meeting, which kicked off on Monday in Baotou, North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

At the Continuing History and Moving Forward Bravely exhibition, the massive amount of precious photos on display are a testimony to the major historical moments in the development of the industry.

The exhibition is a highlight of the China's Public Cultural Center Annual Meeting, which makes a return after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

"Such a cultural affair bears high expectations from both visitors and business insiders as it's been paused for three years. But also, another important issue we need to stress during this meeting is the challenges our public cultural centers are facing in light of all kinds of innovative public cultural spaces that are appearing," noted Yan Xiaodong, deputy director of public service department at China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism, during a press conference.

"A corner stone of China's creative industry since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, public cultural centers have taken up the role of providing a space for locals across the country to get in touch with cultural businesses before the popularity and strengthening of museums at the end of 20th century," a Baotou-based cultural expert Kang Zhewen told the Global Times on Monday.

The 2023 meeting serves as a platform for cultural center business insiders to communicate with each other, and present and experience the new products being used at local public centers in different cities.

In addition, fun events featuring Mongolian culture and food are being held during the meeting.

Being a public space for cultural education, exhibitions and all kinds of culture and art-related activities, those venues serve as an indispensable part of China's public cultural service system, as they bear the mission of enriching the public's basic cultural life, free of charge.

Yet under the impact of the development of art and culture, the public centers' outdated service facilities have prevented them from competing with more social and cultural places.

In response, many venues have been using high technology to update themselves.

By the end of 2022, 3,503 cultural centers have registered in China, among them many centers in cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen have introduced digital cultural centers.

For example, Beijing introduced its first digital cultural center in 2017, where it moved its activities online.

"In the past, if a citizen wanted to learn how to dance she needed to step into a center for a face-to-face lesson. But now, by introducing a motion capture device to her house, she can follow the teacher at home," Yang Hua, a technical expert who has been involved in a similar digital cultural space project, told the Global Times.

In order to cooperate with the operation of the digital cultural center, a digital experience project has also been set up in the cultural center: A huge screen displays a hand-drawn map of old Beijing. When one clicks on the capital city's representative historical district on screen, visitors can hear the unique street selling cries as an audio guide teaches them historical knowledge.

Since the debut in 2014, the China's Public Cultural Center Annual Meeting has undergone seven sessions. The last one in 2019 was held in Yantai, East China's Shandong Province, and aimed at reforming public centers to better operate in the country's public service system.

The 2019 meeting aimed to clarify the social functions and professional mission of cultural centers, improve the service system and cultural voluntary services, and strengthen industry coordination to speed up the construction of the service system of Chinese cultural centers.