Street per­form­ers a wel­comed ad­di­tion in me­trop­o­lis

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By LI XUEQING in Shang­hai


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.

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