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Cultural sector to be reformed

The document of guidelines on deepening reform of cultural system, which was issued on Wednesday, requires general art troupes, publishing houses, newspapers and magazines on culture, art, life and popular science, bookstores, movie studios, theaters, TV play producers, cultural intermediary organizations to gradually restructure into market businesses.

Jointly issued by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council, the document indicates that China's top leadership has decided to embrace marketization to invigorate the country's cultural undertakings.

Only organizations that offer public cultural service such as libraries, museums, cultural and scientific centers, and Party periodicals, news agencies, radio and TV stations, major news websites, politics periodicals, a few publishing houses for political and public welfare purposes, major social science research institutes, art troupes showing national features will still enjoy state support.

China initiated a cultural system reform experiment in 2003 in nine cities and provinces such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong and Lijiang, a tourist destination in southwest China.

The market-oriented reform has seen initial success in those regions. Set up in Aug. 2004, Beijing Song and Dance Theater Co. Ltd. saw its revenue double in the second half of last year to 3.64 million yuan (US$455,000) from the first half before its restructuring.

Its major shareholder, capital Toursim Co., has cashed in on its advantage of Beijing's tourist market and the advertising campaign of Beijing TV Station to bring a slew of visitors to the theater by having it sign performance contracts with over a dozen Beijing hotels.

In Shanghai, a grand art center was established by incorporating six institutions including the Shanghai Theater, Concert Hall and Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, an epitome of cultural resources merging in the country.

According to sources with the Ministry of Culture, a batch of art "aircraft carriers" are likely to sail to the market as the reform designed to boost "socialist cultural prosperity" proceeds.

"The government will increase input in public cultural activities," said the document. "Meanwhile, efforts shall be made to encourage various sides to invest in these activities."

In view of China's rapid urbanization and economic expansion, there has been growing consensus among Chinese scholars and government decision-makers that development of the cultural sector has failed to keep pace.

Economically better off Chinese people now desire better and richer cultural activities, yet the domestic cultural industry is unable to meet that demand.

"The government has recognized the importance of developing the cultural industry to regional economic development and the relations of developing cultural industry with people's spiritual pursuits", said Chen Shaofeng, deputy director of the cultural industry research institute of Peking University.

To push the reform, the document stressed changing the ownership structure of the cultural industry to gradually form a pattern "with public ownership as the mainstay and various forms of ownership developing side by side."

"Private capital is encouraged to enter cultural sectors approved by the government in various forms."

It also said the CPC will continue to maintain control on the news media, news media officials and correct guidance of the public opinion to ensure "the news media always lives up to its nature as the mouthpiece of the Party and the people."

But the advertising, printing, circulation and transmission branches of news media organizations and affiliated TV and movie studios and sales departments are permitted to operate as businesses on the market.


 Source :   Editor: WuLin
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