Li Zhiwei writes about a municipal service for cultural producers to find audiences across Shanghai.
Intangible cultural heritage belongs to public culture in China. Under the guidance of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Intangible Cultural Heritage and through the implementation of various protection policies for intangible cultural heritage, intangible cultural heritage has been included in the national public culture. The concept of “intangible cultural heritage into the community” was put forward for the protection of intangible cultural heritage. Later, it was changed to “intangible cultural heritage in the community” and “intangible cultural heritage into modern life”.
The aim of these concepts is to introduce intangible cultural heritage into urban life and awaken people’s understanding of traditional culture. But in fact, most of the time only handmade doods can enter daily life and urban commerce, and the categories involved are very limited, such as handmade bags, tea sets, clothing, etc. These products are the independent production of handicraftsmen or industrial cultural and creative products, which do not have the meaning of traditional community life. The elements of traditional culture cannot be completely preserved in cities and even villages, and it is difficult to pass on them in a living way.
So far, there are 273 intangible cultural heritage protection items at the municipal level in Shanghai, including 114 items of traditional skills, but they are still unfamiliar to most citizens. People may know some intangible cultural heritage items, but in this international commercial city, intangible cultural heritage or traditional culture has long been a cultural symbol and commercial resource. For example, in addition to some traditional cooking skills such as “Little Shaoxing White Chicken” and “Mutton Processing Skills”, other traditional skills are difficult to see in daily life. In the process of urbanization, the remaining fragments of intangible cultural heritage have become an important part of public culture. The government brings intangible cultural heritage into the vision of public culture. At least it can help people evoke traditional memories.
In Shanghai, intangible cultural heritage performances can become public cultural service products through the Shanghai Public Cultural Content Supply Platform (hereinafter referred to as the Cultural Supply Platform). Shanghai’s public cultural supply has formed a system, in which the Shanghai Mass Art Museum is a municipal distribution center for public cultural services. Through the cultural supply platform, it establishes a trading mechanism for cultural buyers and suppliers and balances the cultural demand and supply in various districts of Shanghai. The cultural supply platform provides an opportunity for the public cultural demanders (community grassroots, community cultural activity centers of each street and town) and suppliers (social subjects willing to participate in the supply of public cultural content) to exchange resources (one has an audience, and the other has a performance).
Social subjects need to be approved if they want to become suppliers. Social subjects refer to various social subjects with independent legal personality and no adverse industrial records and impacts. They can participate in the application of “online distribution” projects. The supplier submits the content and type of cultural products to be declared on the platform. These cultural products can enter the project resource list of the platform only after being approved by the platform. The operation mechanism of the Cultural Supply Platform is shown in Figure 1
（The Operating Mechanism of Shanghai Public Cultural Service Platform）
What cultural content should the supplier be able to provide? The cultural supply platform has made a content plan (due to the impact of the epidemic, the demand for digital content has been strengthened). The content requirements of the cultural supply platform for the supplier: to inherit the excellent Chinese traditional culture, focusing on promoting the spirit of Chinese aesthetic education, excavating the connotations of Shanghai red culture, Shanghai style culture, and Jiangnan culture, and carrying out digital cultural content innovation around themes such as “architecture can be read”, “Shanghai style urban archaeology” and “intangible cultural heritage new experience”, including theatrical performances, Cultural lectures, art appreciation, life aesthetics, tourism and leisure and other projects. Specifically, it is divided into several categories: (1) performances include drama, music, dance, folk art, acrobatics, comprehensive performances, etc.
(2) art skills learning includes literature, drama, music, dance, fine arts, photography, calligraphy, folk art, Digital teaching products in the categories of intangible cultural heritage, handicrafts, and new media applications, so community residents can learn online.
(3) The “life aesthetics” section includes but is not limited to tea ceremony, flower way, incense way, Qin Way, Hanfu revival, Chinese clothing tailoring, delicious food, classical furniture, ancient and modern collection, craft and folk art, travel homestand, intangible cultural heritage protection, public art, aesthetic education, games and animation, interior design, community planning, etc.
For the cultural services selected by the community committees provided by the suppliers, the government will pay the suppliers ranging from 1,000 yuan to 20,000 yuan. Of course, these fees are given to the suppliers through the signing of cultural service contracts between the two parties. According to the distribution of the amount provided by the provider of cultural content, the general cultural lecture class is 1,000-2,000 yuan. For the cultural supply content with a large number of cultural content performers and high demand for equipment, the amount given by the cultural department will be slightly higher. Generally speaking, social entities do not get much benefit from public cultural services, which is in line with the government’s positioning of public cultural services.
As a cultural service provider, the author applied for a lecture on the theory of intangible cultural heritage protection, which was purchased by the Yanfeng Community Neighborhood Committee of Daning Street, Jing’an District. The lecture was held in the cultural activity center of Yanfeng Community. There were about 20 residents at the lecture site, most of whom were retired elderly people. The lecture lasted about two hours. Through the lecture, these residents learned about the concept and content of Chinese intangible cultural heritage. In general, the cultural goods, artistic performances and handcrafts traded in the community cultural center are more popular with the community residents, but most of the residents participating in the activities are middle-aged and elderly, and some teenagers also participate in the activities on weekends.
The performance and dissemination of intangible cultural heritage in the community play a role in the promotion of intangible cultural heritage, but it cannot be expected to realize the inheritance of intangible cultural heritage through public cultural services. The mechanism of the document supply platform can indeed play a role in enriching the cultural life of community residents. However, due to the stipulation of the content of cultural supply and the low purchase cost, this kind of cultural commercial service is of the nature of universal benefit, and the regeneration ability of cultural diversity is lacking.
About Li Zhiwei
Li Zhiwei PhD is a teacher at the School of Publishing, Printing and Art Design, University of Shanghai for Science and Technology. His ancestral home is Nanyang, Henan. In 2021, he was the editor-in-chief of the “Lacquer Art Branch” of the third edition of the “Encyclopedia of China” on handicrafts. In 2021, he was hired by China National Committee for Terminology in Science and Technology as a member of the Traditional Skills Writing Group of the China National Committee for Nouns in Intangible Cultural Heritage. He is a member of the Lacquerware and Enamelware Special Committee of the Chinese Society of Cultural Relics. He is committed to the practice of lacquerware technology and the study of related technology theory. So far, he has published 11 journal papers on intangible cultural heritage theory and lacquerware technology research.
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