CSIAF International Affairs Consultant Cathy Barbash Won the Shanghai Magnolia Award 2015


This autumn, the China Shanghai International Arts Festival is pleased to invite and welcome Mrs. Cathy Barbash to come to Shanghai. On 9th September, Mrs. Barbash accepted the interview with China Shanghai International Arts Festivals to share her opinions on the arts field in China and impressions towards Shanghai. 

Zhang Xiaosong , Director General of the Shanghai Municipal Foreign Affairs Office , presented the award to Mrs. Cathy Barbash  

Cathy Barbash is China Shanghai International Arts Festival’s old friend. It has been more than 30 years since she started her devotion in the cooperation with Chinese arts field. As the President of Cathy Barbash Arts Consulting Services, the Senior Consultant of Chinese Performing Arts Affairs, the Chinese Project Producer of Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra and the International Affairs Consultant of China Shanghai International Arts Festival’s, she is dedicated to promoting the international culture exchange and cooperation between China and other countries’. Shanghai Municipal Government awarded her a 2015 Silver Magnolia Award to appreciate the contributions she has made to the development of Shanghai.

As an old friend of the Festival, Mrs. Barbash started to be the International Affairs Consultant since 2013, and the jury of the Pitch Session: Going to the World! in 2014 and 2015.

The interview is as follows (‘A’ for China Shanghai International Arts Festival, ‘B’ for Mrs. Cathy Barbash).

A: It has been more than 30 years since you started your dedicated devotion in promoting the international culture communication and cooperation between China and other countries’. With your recommendation, many Chinese excellent artists can have the chance to step into international arts stage. As for us, it is our pleasure to have you as our International Affairs Consultant, and jury of the Pitch: Going to the World in 2014 and 2015. Having cooperated with China Shanghai International Arts Festival for these years, would you like to share the impression that China Shanghai International Arts Festival has left you? 

B: The impression is the festival has faced great progress over the years especially under the leadership of the leaders. I saw very fast development and understanding of how international festival should be run. They are really the new generation of the new China reaching out the world, especially having the faith and belief in the younger generations in China to be creators of a new way of looking at for Chinese culture, a very creative way, not hide down by all the assumptions but a way of making it very dynamic, both for people in the younger generation in China, and also making it at the same time very attractive to the world.

A: Do you have any long-term plans for the further cooperation with us? 

B: I am privileged in honor to be the consultant of the festival, and I can change the work with the festival as long as they will have me. It is a very good, good productive relationship. We understand each other very well in terms of the priority of the festival, and my ability to introduce the world, the international creative industry of the world.

A: As you may remember, this January, Asia Society and Performance Space 122 have teamed up with China Shanghai International Arts Festival for the United States Premiere of three multidisciplinary ensemble works by Chinese young artists from China Rising Artists’ Works Project. Would you like to share what you pay close attention to about China rising artists? 

B: I pay attention to the truth in the creation that they are creating out of their organic belief in a form they are not creating to order. It is not a rigid show. The idea of the subject of what they create doesn’t come from a ministry or an investor or what have you. It is the true feeling of the creator. And so they create what they feel. You know, the inner of themselves impulse them to create and that is what’s going to have the most value for audience anywhere. So the fact that they are true to themselves and their creative visions and are articulate, the more articulate they can be and convey whatever the messenger’s feeling is. That’s what really speaks to me. If there is a real integral vision to what they are trying to create, that really comes out. 

A: What further achievement do you think the rising artists in China can make?

B: I think the sky is the limit. Really, I think they have to feel free to create what speaks to them. You know creators are the people who have some ideas and some inspirations within them. And whatever that inspiration is, they create it. And then they see if there is an audience for it. Is it something that they have a small selected audience or is it something that they have a broad audience. They never know until it. It’s like giving birth to a child. You don’t know what that child is going to be, but you feel compelled to giving birth to it and you see what kind of life it has. And I think the younger generation need to do this, they need to trust their own vision. 

A: From your perspective of view, what further communication and cooperation between rising artistes from China and the United States can be promoted in future?

B: I think as the Rising Artists’ Works are created, the easier it is for the international audience to access it and to see it. Whether you are lucky enough to come to Shanghai see it in person or whether the total performance can be put online somehow. Well online vehicle is practical for China at the time. The easier is for China and the world to exchange this type of videos and content. The more communication will be possible between potential creators and potential audience. 

A: Just like Mr. Zhang Xiaosong, Director of the Shanghai Foreign Affair Office, said at the awarding ceremony, by talent, the success is made and the career is widened, so welcoming all the talents can achieve greatness. As the recipient of a 2015 Silver Magnolia Award, you have made great contributions to the cultural development of Shanghai. We sincerely appreciate that. May I know many times have you been in Shanghai? 

B: I have lost fact because my very first visit was in 1993. I was the manager and founder of the orchestra and I toured them to China. And that was my discovery of China. The particular situation of the tour made me realize because of my comparative government background, the change was just beginning. That made it tremendously interesting to me. And also Shanghai is so different than Beijing. As we know, in Shanghai you got the feeling even in 1993 that maybe not right that moment, but you know it was all these creative fulminant possibilities just under the surface, just waiting to blossom as the change really began, just waiting to happen. And people who instinctively knew what to do and how to do it and they just need the situation to be right.

A: Would you like to share your impression towards Shanghai? 

B: Shanghai is unique certainly in China and one of the most unique places in the world. It’s very much like New York in that it welcomes all cultures and all people. As you said this is the 70th anniversary of the celebration of the Jewish ghetto in Shanghai. During the Second World War, that was the only place that Jews can come without VISA. My family is Jewish, and though my family came to America well before the Second World War, we had friends growing up who had been able to sleep through Shanghai. And so this was the history that we knew along ago before became very fashionable to know and celebrate it. And so as a place where there is no prejudice of new comers coming in and that all cultures are welcomed to set up a big dispread of their creativity, it’s particularly interesting to the world and I think that’s why even now there are so many tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of expats who fall to Shanghai because it is such an interesting dynamic place. Even in my taxi coming over here this morning, you know, just enjoying the streets you can think that in spirits it’s so much like New York because you feel like anything could happen at any moment. You know every day you go down the street you discover something new and it is an unbelievable energy that is just flowing, just like a geyser flowing out in Shanghai. And you just always feel good when you are here.

A: That is all for today’s interview. Thank you respectfully.

B: Thank you very much. 

The China Shanghai International Arts Festival sincerely appreciate the dedicated contribution that Mrs. Cathy Barbash has made to the development and international exchange in Shanghai arts field, and also all the precious support she has done for the Festival, which helped the Festival gain more opportunities of international cooperation and faster progress. Hope the friendship evergreen and the cooperation pleasant and productive as always.