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Stage is set in Huangpu as new online theater alliance launched
From:Shanghai Daily  |  2020-11-17 09:29

Major domestic theaters, online platforms and tech firms jointly established an online performance alliance in Huangpu District yesterday to explore new development paths amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Founding members of the Show Life Online Performance Alliance include the Shanghai Grand Theater, Mahua FunAge, Shaanxi Grand Theater, streaming website iQiyi and China Mobile’s Shanghai branch.

It aims to gather online resources from both home and abroad, while creating a professional exchange and service platform for online performances.

The alliance, under the guidance of the publicity department of the Shanghai government and Huangpu District government, was launched on the Online Performing Arts Development Summit at the Shanghai Grand Theater.

Curtains are rising again at downtown theaters after shows were suspended for months due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Major theaters and cultural venues within Show Life, a Huangpu-based theater and art performance zone, are receiving audiences, with strict limits on capacity and full COVID-19 prevention measures.

“The new Internet plus performance pattern has lowered the threshold for audiences, narrowed the distance between the stage and inspired us during the pandemic lockdown,” Ma Li, an official with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, told the summit.

The number of Internet audio-and-video users in China reached 901 million as of June this year, covering 95.8 percent of all internet users in the country, according to a research report.

Officials and experts from over 20 performance institutes as well as online attendees from overseas shared opinions online and offline at the summit.

The summit, which was also livestreamed on WeChat and Bilibili, focused on the future of online performances in the post-pandemic era.

The Shanghai Grand Theater had to suspend many performances and refund the tickets since January 23 due to COVID-19.

Operation resumed in June when the classic ballet “Swan Lake” from Shanghai Ballet was staged, Zhang Xiaoding, general manager of the theater recalled.

Online art classes and performances also turned out to be popular during the lockdown, Zhang said. Over 1.2 million online viewers watched a performance within a day on May 2. Over 40 artists offered seven art classes, including in traditional operas and singing.

Zhang said the theater will soon air an online documentary “On Broadway,” by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Oren Jacoby.

Yang Dongsheng, deputy director of the Huangpu government, said the district will accelerate creating a “Smart Theater” demonstration, which blends onsite and online performances.

Huangpu will further optimize the industrial chain of the performing arts and drive the construction of new infrastructure such as 5G and artificial intelligence, Yang told the summit.

The Show Life zone, which Yang said represents a new lifestyle of art and performance, includes the most popular downtown art venues such as the Shanghai Grand Theater, Great Theatre of China, Shanghai People Theater and Shanghai Culture Square.

Half of the city’s 38,000 performances in 2019 were hosted by theaters within the zone, according to Yang.