A lot of people might think Dongguan is just about factories and business, but the local government is making huge strides to change this and bring free culture to the people.
As a heavily populated city like Dongguan grows, the needs for culture and art can’t be neglected. When food and shelter are secured, people start to think about their spiritual needs. That’s the reason why free art classes provided by the government are always so popular and also why the government has been devoting a lot of thoughts and funds into promoting and spreading positive culture and art perspectives into the public domain. As Dongguan has become prosperous in recent decades, the budget used in this area has grown continuously.
Founded in 1953, the Dongguan Culture Center has been a major pioneer and leader in the city’s cultural and art scenes. For decades, it has organized all kinds of art exhibitions, youth programs and competitions, plus offers free classes for singing, dance, music instruments and opera. It also brings shows and performances to the grassroots around the city during traditional holidays. Plus, they nurture local dancers and singers to build their own choirs and dance troupes where they can participate in local, provincial and national performances and competitions.
The bright new home
Back in March, the Dongguan Culture Center moved to a new facility, the Dongguan Civil Art Center, with nearly 30,000 sq. meters of floor area and state-of-the-art equipment across three modern buildings. Having their own theater, known as the Qunxing Theater, the center no longer needs to borrow the stage from Yulan Theater anymore. Packing in over 900 seats, the Qunxing Theater maintains the same standards in lighting and sound as the Yulan Theater.
Connected by a shaded corridor, the main building of the center hosts Dongguan Culture Center’s offices and 37 rooms, including rehearsal, meeting and multi-functional training rooms for musical instruments and operas. In this building, locals can sign up for all kinds of free programs, like a ballroom dance program and have classes every week. It’s also the ideal rehearsal studio space for performing groups.
Throughout the summer, a series of youth activities, including an art summer camp, children’s play, exhibitions, master workshops, comic fairs and talent shows will be organized under the “I Love Art” Dongguan Youth Art Season and all are designed for all youth in Dongguan to participate.
Sharing the same roof with the main building, a giant showroom contains all of Dongguan’s most valuable cultural heritages pieces. The Intangible Cultural Heritage Exhibition Hall showcases 40 traditional folk crafts and skills in pictures, real objects and video. In the middle of the Hall, the largest thousand-corner lantern in the world is hung from the ceiling. The 5 meter high and 4 meter wide lantern is made by the only heritage successor Zhang Shuqi and took more than a year to build, using a combination of skillful brush painting, paper cutting and embroidery. Other heritage items include dragon boat making skills, which displays a complete dragon boat with the arks and drum; the Mok Gar, one of the five major family styles of southern Chinese martial arts, and their weapons; Guan grass for its weaving products and techniques, plus so much more.
Dongguan’s youth art season
Throughout the summer, a series of youth activities, including an art summer camp, children’s play, exhibitions, master workshops, comic fairs and talent shows will be organized under the “I Love Art” Dongguan Youth Art Season and all are designed for the youth in Dongguan. The program will start on July 16, with a grand opening ceremony and lots of family fun, including a creative market, shows, foods and kids activities. Running until the end of August, over 30 events, in ten themes will spread across the summer months. The best part is that it’s open to everyone, though some events specifically reserve 20 percent of the seats for those “left behind” kids, who will come to visit their working parents from their hometown and spend a summer vacation in Dongguan. To see the complete and detailed schedule, head to the Editor’s Picks on page 32.