Street performers a welcomed addition in metropolis
Shanghai’s street scene just got a little more colorful after the Shanghai Performance Trade Association (SPTA) on Sept 16 granted licenses to 14 street performers, allowing them to operate at designated spots in the city’s Changning district.
Retirees He Peihua and her husband Zhang Genchao are among these 14 people. The couple are Chinese knot weavers who started operating at the Nanfeng City shopping mall in Changning district on Sept 19. Not long after they sat down, a young couple with a baby bought one of their handicrafts.
“We don’t set the price. You pay as much as you like,” said Zhang. The couple paid 50 yuan ($7.8) for the handwoven product that looked like three puppet men symbolizing a family.
Under the rules set by the SPTA, street performers are not allowed to set a price for their services or products. Other rules stipulate that they must be dressed neatly at all times and not be a disturbance to other citizens.
Xu Yifang, another craftsman at Nanfeng City who makes bookmarks, hairpins and other accessories using beads, said that she has been paid fairly by her customers so far.
“They are all handmade by me. I don’t care how much the customers pay,” she said.
There are currently 30 licensed street performers in Shanghai. The city issued licenses to the first batch of eight people on Oct 25 last year. Compared with the people who got their licenses earlier, the latest group of 14 performers are younger and better educated, said SPTA’s website. Two thirds of them are aged between 25 to 35 years old. Some of them are artists seeking their dreams in the city.
The designated spots have also been expanded from Jingan to Changning district this time round. Playing of traditional Chinese musical instruments such as the panpipe have also been added to the list of approved activities, and the SPTA believes performances like that can help evoke the old Shanghai atmosphere in the streets.
All street performers are currently given a time frame and assigned to a particular location based on their own schedules as they may have commercial shows or personal matters to take care of. Their attendance and performance will be monitored by the association, said Yin Kai, one of the licensed performers.
“I once lived in the UK for almost four years and there is not as much street performance here in Shanghai. It will be good to have more licensed performers,” said Atem from Cameroon, a passerby whose workplace is near Zhaofeng Plaza, one of the designated spots.
Earlier this month, Wei Zhi, head of SPTA, told Jiefang Daily that Shanghai’s authorities are doing research on the legislation of street performers.
“I think it’s better to regulate street performances,” said Li Qiong from Shanghai. “For us living in the city, too many performances in the street may affect our life.”
Licensed street performances have also been well accepted by neighboring businesses.
“Our corporation also engages in multimedia and cultural businesses so it’s natural that we support the licensed street performance,” said Qi Qing, general manager of Shanghai Multimedia Park Development Co Ltd which owns the Zhaofeng Plaza shopping mall.
“On the other hand, we also hope the shows will bring us more customers, especially the young people as they prefer shopping online compared to going to a shopping mall. We want to give the customers a more cultural experience,” he added.