Arts festival attracts bigger audience via online broadcasts

By Yuan Shenggao (China Daily)


Dance drama Liu Hulan is staged during the third Shanxi Arts Festival. [Photo by Han Linfang for China Daily]

When the third Shanxi Arts Festival kicked off on July 5, few people expected this online event could achieve greater popularity than its previous two sessions that were held offline.

But it did. Incomplete statistics show that, by Aug 1, the online festival had generated about 61 million views. Nearly 28 million people took part in the event through various interactive platforms, a figure that some organizers said goes far beyond their imagination.

Held online from July 5-31 according to the requirements for pandemic prevention and control, the event was described by the organizers as a long-lasting gala, as the shows and interactions are scheduled to go on after its official conclusion.

In the theme of "a gala of arts and a festival for the people", the event highly valued the participation of audiences, and this was made possible with the internet and various interactive platforms, according to the organizers.

On July 23, Ye Xiangfei, a Shanxi native living in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, had an interview with a media reporter in Shanxi after watching the dance drama of Liu Hulan.

Ye said his hometown is Lyuliang, the same city where the story of Liu Hulan, a heroic girl relating to the revolutionary history of Shanxi, took place.

"Performances relating to Liu Hulan are always among my favorites, be it a drama or a movie," Ye said. "It is amazing to have an opportunity to watch a Liu Hulan drama in the city of Guangzhou, which is more than 2,000 kilometers away from Shanxi."

Ye said during the previous two sessions of the festival, people had to go to a theater to watch a show and they might not succeed in booking tickets because of the limited number of seats.

"Now there is plenty of room here, thanks to the event's online platform," Ye told the reporter. "There are a wide range of options for you to select from if you have enough time."

According to the organizers, there were 15 sub-events, 92 drama and opera performances and an exhibition of 850 calligraphic and painting works on show through the online platforms.

Lu Xiaohua, a resident in the Shanxi provincial capital of Taiyuan, said the most amazing part of the festival is that audiences can hear the comments and interpretations from experts when watching the shows or exhibitions. "This is something you cannot experience when watching a show in a theater or an exhibition in a museum."

Event organizers said the "experts' comments" are a newly added link to the festival, aiming to help audiences better understand the rich forms and cultural essence of the varieties of arts in Shanxi, especially local operas and folk musical arts.

Shanxi is said to be one of the sources of traditional Chinese opera, with a couple of ancient varieties still alive on today's stage. One representative of Shanxi's operas is Jinju Opera, which became one of the highlights of this year's festival, with 29 shows staged.

To encourage the artists' enthusiasm for protecting, inheriting and passing down these time-honored arts, Shanxi province has designed the "Apricot Flower Awards" for outstanding artists and excellent works.

The 17th Apricot Flower Awards ceremony was once again a highlight of this year's festival. This time the selection of outstanding artists and excellent works is no longer limited to the experts' panel. The votes from audiences, which were made online, also played an important role, according the festival's organizers.

Han Linfang contributed to this story.