The birth and development of the 20th China Shanghai International Arts Festival are a direct result of the reform


The birth and development of the 20th China Shanghai International Arts Festival are a direct result of the reform

The 20th China Shanghai International Art Festival, which lasted for 35 days, was successfully closed at the Shanghai Grand Theatre tonight (22nd). After the closing ceremony, Chinese and foreign guests watched the Cuban National Ballet dance drama Don Quixote.

As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the reform and opening of China, we also celebrate the 20th anniversary of the China Shanghai International Arts Festival. The Festival, whose birth and development are a direct result of the reform, continues to thrive through exploration and innovation, building stronger cultural confidence through the platforms and mechanisms it has created.  Indeed, each year it brings us an “A Festival of Arts, A Gala for All”.  

The Festival has contributed greatly to the city’s three-year plan for accelerating the creation of a prestigious "Shanghai Culture" brand. This initiative will cement Shanghai’s reputation and standing as a leading international cultural metropolis, a center of both Asian and global arts. 

This year alone, the Festival hosted 10,000 artists from over 60 countries, who offered over 350 performances and exhibits for an audience of over 5 million people.

The Shanghai people’s open nature and diverse interests drive their love of the arts. This year’s Festival did not disappoint them, as the stages were filled with both classic and innovative performances given by outstanding performers from around the world.

Powerful melodies, lyrical dancing, splendid dramas… The outstanding domestic performances in this year’s Arts Festival covered the broad sweep of Chinese history, promoting both fine traditional Chinese culture and the dynamism of the new era.

The Arts Festival’s 20th anniversary season was marked by a record high number of original commissioned works. The vitality and innovative spirit of Shanghai culture was well-represented, as more than 50% of the performances were premieres, among them many pieces created by local artists. Shanghai artists’ talent and enthusiasm were especially showcased in the 6 original works from 7 young artists commissioned for this year’s “R.A.W.” program. The Arts Festival proudly introduced these performances to the world on their stages.

In order to demonstrate the historical achievements of the forty years of reform and opening up of China, this year’s Arts Festival launched special programming devoted these essential decades.

Many international and domestic artists and arts professionals who previously attended the Arts Festival were invited back this year to this “artistic homecoming.” While remembering the Festival’s original aspirations, they reviewed the past and looked forward to a bright future. 

President Xi Jinping’s declaration that, “Artists should care about people's lives, voices and emotions, and create works that inspire the people and are appreciated by the people”, provided the direction for new artistic creation. Thus, many art works were produced that praise the common people, celebrate the new era, reflect today’s reality, and warm people’s hearts. 

Having expanded the influence of the arts for 20 years, the China Shanghai International Arts Festival continues to serve the people.

This year marked the 5th anniversary of the popular “Art Space” series. Known as “The Theater Without Walls”, it provided programming for all 16 Shanghai city districts, with events on 58 stages totaling more than 100 performances by world-class artists from nearly 30 countries. 

The Art Plus Program has multiple opportunities for audience engagement, adding multiple activities on and off of Festival stages, enriching the vitality of common people’s lives. Arts Plus produced more than 100 activities in public plazas and streets, creating a joyful holiday atmosphere throughout the entire city. 

This year, the Arts Festival expanded its interactive activities, involving its audiences in exploring the creative sources of arts and culture. As part of the Festival’s Inner Mongolia programming, the collaboration of artists from Shanghai and Inner Mongolia expanded the practice of “Wulanmuqi,” bringing the grasslands prairie style from Inner Mongolia to the banks of the Huangpu River.

The Reform and Opening Up has contributed to The China Shanghai International Arts Festival’s growth into the “must-attend” arts and culture annual gathering in China. Famous for the high level and diversity of its performances and showcases, it has developed by international consensus into the most professional performing arts trade market in the Asia-Pacific region. More than 460 agencies from 53 countries attended this year’s performing arts fair, introducing 31 performances, and signing 541 business agreements.

The Silk Road International Festival of Arts Alliance has grown significantly since its 2017 launch.  The Alliance membership now includes 157 agencies from 41 countries, and membership and collaborations continue to expand. Driven by cooperation and development, the Alliance breaks new ground, inviting and engaging with new partners, building common ground through the convergence of interests.

Filled with the spirit of exploration, the China Shanghai International Arts Festival Forums always attract global attention. This year more than 1000 professionals gathered from all over the world to share their experiences, knowledge, and ideas.

The Arts Festival’s activities continue to promote and enable the national strategy of integrative development of the Yangtze River Delta region. The Arts Festival began these initiatives 5 years ago by establishing its Yangtze Delta outreach season.

This year’s “Connecting Yangtze Delta” programming included a series of activities to promote sharing and collaboration of cultural resources with the Yangtze Delta region, with the aim of facilitating higher level cultural productions and making the Festival’s programming more accessible to the region as a whole. 

Let us continue our journey in this beautiful autumn season!