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Rural China turns its hand to artistic field

By Ye Zizhen and Ma Zhenhuan in Hangzhou| China Daily| Updated: October 11, 2021 L M S

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The village of Gejia in Ninghai, Zhejiang province, is decorated with artistic displays. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

In 2019, Xing reached a preliminary deal to cooperate with the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, inviting artists to the village of Shishe to experience rural China for the first time.

"Things were put aside because of COVID-19, and I still hope more artists can visit Shishe when the epidemic is over," Xing said.

"Saxiu art space is just a beginning, my next plan is to discover more remote and natural places and build more art spaces across China and inspire more people to discover the beauty of rural China."

"Rural vitalization through art is an important way to develop rural areas. Art refers to not only high culture, but also grassroots culture and traditional local culture," said Sun Jiashan, a researcher with the Chinese National Academy of Arts.

"Rural vitalization through art does not have a fixed pattern, it must utilize local resources and inspire local residents," Sun added.

Chen Xiwen, an agricultural expert and official with the National People's Congress believes that rural vitalization in China is an inevitable pathway to achieving xiaokang-a moderately prosperous society, and to building the country into a "great modern socialist country".


Yuan Xiaoxian (right) arranges cloth bags for sale at her shop in the village of Gejia. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

While the central government has always attached importance to issues related to agriculture, farming and rural areas, the strategy of rural vitalization was first proposed by the Communist Party of China at the 19th CPC National Congress in 2017.

With the nation achieving poverty alleviation in 2020, perhaps the best time has arrived to "art up" rural China.

In Zhejiang province, more artistic villages are flourishing with the efforts of people like Xing and the local government.

Cong Zhiqiang was in search for a place to put into practice his ideas about art.

An associate professor from the School of Arts at Renmin University of China for many years, Cong researched how traditional rural villages can vitalize through art.

Luck found him in 2019 when he met Li Guijun, deputy party secretary of Ninghai county in Zhejiang province.

The two of them soon hit it off when they found a shared goal, to find an effective way to beautify and vitalize villages in one way or another, and this time, through art.

Ninghai county in Zhejiang province has a population of 690,000. The GDP of the county in 2020 was 72.2 billion yuan. In 2019, the county government started its "rural vitalization through art" project, collaborating with local residents and higher education institutions, inviting artists to come to villages and give their opinions and ideas.

In April 2019, Cong and a group of his students visited Gejia, a village with a 1,200-year history, with the majority of residents making a living from weaving bamboo.

At first, the local residents didn't really understand the aims of the project.

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