CAEG launched Image China in 2009 to send high-quality Chinese shows abroad.
"We want to introduce the best contemporary productions to the West's major theaters, and gradually develop the impact and marketing share of Chinese performing arts abroad," says Zhang Shuxin, vice-president of CAEG, which was founded in 1957 as China's first company engaging in cultural exchange projects.
Zhang says most Chinese shows touring abroad over the past 60 years were financially covered by the government under the label of "cultural exchange". But they seldom sold tickets. Chinese embassies and other Chinese communities would organize audiences for the show, and most of them were Chinese living there.
If not funded by the government, the production is "sold" to a foreign company, which means the foreign agent gives money to the Chinese troupe and then the foreign company does the marketing and everything else required, so the final box office revenue is separated from Chinese company.
Most of the shows feature acrobatics and Peking Opera.
A month ago, Zhang Yu, president of CAEG, won the 2011 CCTV Business Leader of the Year Award. At the ceremony, a young man from New Zealand challenged him: "Do you have anything else except for acrobatics and Peking Opera?"
Zhang had to admit that only acrobatics makes money abroad but, "China does have a variety of performing arts that are not popular or even known to foreign audiences".
Image China has sent abroad Kunqu Opera, dance dramas, Chinese traditional orchestras and Western-style symphony orchestra.
The government financially supports some of the shows. Others partner with local agents and the marketing is done together.
This time, the group has cooperated with AIMG Holdings Pty, and Wind of the Colorful Guizhou played at the Sydney State Theatre on Feb 22 and 23, and will go to Melbourne Regent Theatre on Feb 25 and 26. Then it will move to Bruce Mason Centre, Auckland, on Feb 29 and March 1.
In January 2009, for Image China's first project, the Qingdao Symphony Orchestra performed at the Carnegie Hall and Performing Arts for the Kennedy Center. CAEG collaborated with IMG.
Wang Xiuqin, deputy director of Culture Exchange Division, says CPAA is planning to establish a joint venture with IMG to enter show business in the US.
"Only if we have our own team there, can we know the market and audiences and produce shows to their taste," Wang says.
"We were passive in this field for years. Foreigners chose our shows, marketed our shows and made money. Simply put, acrobatics was easiest for them," Wang says.
"But we can be the boss, too, and we can educate Western audiences to taste a variety of Chinese culture and arts."
This idea represents CAEG's ambitions, but Zhang Shuxin admits CAEG's marketing projects are just 1 percent of its total business.
Though Wind of the Colorful Guizhou tickets cost from 88 to 28 Australian dollars each, the Guizhou provincial government is still contributing 1 million yuan ($158,728) to cover expenses.