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From the groundbreaking of the new east branch of Shanghai Museum and the new east branch of Shanghai Library in Pudong New Area, to the opening of the new Shanghai Orchestra Music Museum in October, 2017 has witnessed the launch of a batch of new cultural facilities as Shanghai continues to strive to strengthen its soft power.

"In the past five years, great progress has been made in the construction of cultural facilities at all levels in Shanghai," Yu Xiufen, director of Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film & TV said Monday. "The layout of a public cultural infrastructure has been laid in place, thus laying a strong foundation for the construction of an international cultural metropolis."

Yu said that Shanghai is improving the construction of a "fifteen-minute cultural circle," a concept that aims to engage the public in cultural activities within a mere 15 minutes' walk from their home or work. Thus far, Shanghai boasts 77 art galleries, 125 museums and 240 libraries, a large number of them with free admission.

In terms of art galleries, the past five years have also seen a number of newly constructed gallery openings across the city, including China Art Museum, Power Station of Art, Liu Haisu Art Museum, Long Museum and Yuz Museum Shanghai.

"Shanghai puts on around 500 art exhibitions each year, double the number five years ago. Attendance has also tripled from five years ago, reaching 5 million visits every year," Yu said, adding that the next project in Shanghai's pipeline is the Cheng Shifa art museum, which is expected to open in 2019.

Relocating to the suburbs

Over 80 percent of Shanghai's 125 museums in the city are free to the public. On average, every 200,000 residents can share a museum. There are also 240 libraries in the city, with an average of 100,000 residents per library.

In terms of cinematic and theatrical performances, Shanghai boasts the most cinemas and film screens nationwide. By August of this year, Shanghai had 293 cinemas and 1,672 film screens in operation, a 40 percent and 52 percent increase respectively compared with five years ago.

In recent years, Shanghai constructed over 20 new theaters, including Shanghai Culture Square, Shanghai Symphony Hall and other smaller-scale theaters. In 2016, Shanghai's 50 major professional theaters produce over 9,000 performances that were viewed by nearly 6 million people.

However, a characteristic of the next round of development is to relocate Shanghai's theater resources to the outskirts of the city in order to lay a solid foundation for suburban residents to enjoy the 20th China Art Festival in 2019.

Clouds of culture

Besides the construction of cultural facilities, Shanghai is also building an online cultural service platform. In 2016, the city launched an app named Culture Cloud, China's very first provincial-level digital platform for culture service.

So far, the app has uploaded over 223,000 pieces of cultural activity information covering over 500 galleries, libraries, exhibitions and community culture centers. Over ­1.7 ­million ­users have registered with the app to receive convenient and up-to-date information about local cultural and art activities.

With Culture Cloud in service for over one year, Yu concluded its function with three words: "accuracy, convenience and satisfaction."

Yu added that, based on big data collection, the app can detect any deficiencies or needs of the public while helping related authorities pinpoint public demand through the design, organizing and promoting of cultural activities.

The 19th China Shanghai International Arts Festival (CSIAF) will return to the city in October. Speaking about highlights of this year's festival, Yu said "people-centered" will still be the concept of the festival.

Attracting younger audience

Established in 1999, the annual CSIAF has grown into a significant platform for ­cultural exchange and one of the world's leading arts festivals.

"Breaking the fences of theaters and walking to the public areas has been an important component and characteristic of CSIAF," Yu said.

To attract younger audience and cultivate the artistic and critical thinking of the next generation, the arts festival will establish a theater viewing delegation comprised of university and high school students who will be able to participate and select their favorite art works while submitting their feedback to the organizers.

"In the future we will continue to uphold and deepen this initiative. In the long run it will not only cultivate a new generation of young art audience for Shanghai, but also make us know more about younger audience and the general public with their recommendations and requirements, in order to carry this festival further," Yu said.

Visitors enter Shanghai Museum. Photo: CFP


A woman browsing an art gallery in Shanghai Photo: CFP

Children visit Shanghai Oriental Art Center in August. Photo: CFP