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Local government uses tourism to revitalize cultural heritage

2014-10-23 14:48:32

(Global Times)


"Tourists from other cities really enjoy our performances, sometimes staying to listen to our third song and then leaving when they notice we're getting tired," Guan told the Global Times.

"However, locals don't appreciate our performances like outsiders do and barely wait for us to sing our third line before leaving," he said, theorizing that this lack of appreciation is one of the reasons behind the disappearance of local culture.

Also found on the cultural street are the stringed instrument cuoqin, which is almost unknown to most Chinese, and a type of embroidery known as huabian datao, all local cultural heritages the knowledge of which only exist in the hearts of a few village elders.

The curator of the Qingzhou Culture Center, Li Jiangtao told the Global Times that the local government began working to reconstruct local historical architecture and seek out disappearing local cultural heritages in 2012. Starting in 2013, heritages that could be performed were given designated spots where they could be demonstrated on the street, a move that went a far way to helping the local tourism industry.

"The city was famous but lacked anything compelling. Adding these lively performances helped make things here more dynamic," Li said, adding that approximately 400,000 tourists visited the city during the recent seven-day National Holiday in October.

In addition to helping the local tourism industry, the program also provides another source of income for intangible culture inheritors. Li said the government pays performers 50 yuan ($8) a day for four to five hours of their time. They can also earn income by selling their handcraft items like dolls made from dough. A win-win situation in Li's eyes as it allows tourists to learn more about local culture while also benefiting inheritors.

Qingzhou is just one of the cities in Shandong that have been contributing to the protection of intangible cultural heritage. Actually, Shandong has been focusing on intangible culture heritage protection for years. In October, Shandong held the China Intangible Culture Heritage Expo at its capital of Jinan for the third time. On October 10 at the expo, Xu Xianghong, the director of the Culture Department of Shandong Province shared his opinion with the Global Times.

"Lifestyles of the past have become a memory. We need to revive these memories. By demonstrating authentic intangible culture heritage, we can evoke a sense of responsibility in people to collectively protect, inherit and revitalize this culture."

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