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The 6th NCPA Open Day: free high art for the public

2013-12-22 13:47:19



A nonprofit organization, the NCPA manages to make ends meet. The center gets one third of its funds from the state government. Revenues from ticket sales made about 300 million yuan in 2013. It has other forms of funding such as donations and sponsorships from various social groups. Venue visits is another major source of income.

The "giant egg" first opened for public visits on October 1, 2008. A visitor is charged 30 yuan for a tour inside the venue, from basement 1 up to the top fifth floor.

The venue was controversial before construction and remains so even now, chiefly because its outward appearance looks weird among the buildings around it. But the design by the French architect Paul Andreu is itself quite remarkable.

It is said that in the first few years, visitors to the NCPA for the architecture outnumbered people who went there for the performances. The NCPA has received more than 3.7 million tourists.

Visitors at the north entrance usually begin the trip by taking the central path on basement 1. Many will be impressed by the transparent glass ceiling, which reflects rippling, glistening water on a sunny day. The water is part of the shallow water ring that encircles the dome. The path leads to an oval space, where escalators on either side take people to the five upper floors.

In addition to the theaters, visitors may pass through exhibitions related to the performing arts in two exhibition halls and a museum. They may also browse stores for souvenirs or sit in cafes or a western restaurant.

A music bookstore on the 1st floor offers a rich variety of books on music and arts, as well as audio & visual products. The arts library on the 4th floor is reserved for NCPA club members. In its exterior ring corridor, a gallery of posters gives an introduction to the world's most eminent musicians and composers.

Arts popularization and fostering artistic talent is another important undertaking for the NCPA. As part of its outreach program, the NCPA runs regular weekend concerts by conservatory faculty and students. It also invites artists, scholars and critics to give lectures and pre-show talks, and host album listening sessions and costume & props exhibitions.

As a government institution, the NCPA strives to achieve a balance between social and economic benefit. In the past six years, it hosted 5,776 free activities, engaging a total audience of 2.9 million.

In the same period, the NCPA received 544 foreign or Chinese performance organizations and over 177,000 foreign or Chinese artists. It has established communication relations with 175 foreign arts organizations and signed strategic partnership agreements with 18 internationally renowned arts organizations including the British Royal Opera House and the American John F. Kennedy Center for the performing Arts.

As probably the world's largest and most advanced center for the performing arts, the NCPA says the facility is still inadequate and has plans to rent theaters in Beijing to run productions.

"Arts change life!" This is a saying initiated and repeated by the NCPA's founding dean Chen Ping, a deputy minister-level official. On his watch, the NCPA has made remarkable strides forward in the past six years. "We will continue the efforts and run the NCPA for the people, for the arts and for the world," Chen Ping says.

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