Volunteers invited to monitor shows
Volunteers are being invited to review and report on the quality of shows staged in Beijing’s small venues as part of the city government’s efforts to streamline the performance market.
Volunteers are expected to report if they find performances contain pornography, violence or libel, or if shows are performed in a way that may affect actors’ health or use actors’ physical defects, according to a guideline released on Sunday by the Beijing Bureau of Culture.
The guideline covers venues that hold fewer than 600 people, said Yang Guobin, chief of the department of supervision at the Beijing Bureau of Culture, who was responsible for drafting it.
“Dance performances, dramas and traditional Chinese operas could all fall into the category,” Yang said.
“The guideline targets for- profit performances,” Yang said, “We’re trying to streamline shows in line with the rules of for-profit performances as well as to encourage quality shows.”
The bureau will cooperate with the city’s law enforcement team that oversees culture events and local communities to regulate small-scale performances.
In recent years, theater productions in small venues have boomed in the city. An estimated 400 productions are launched each year in Beijing, with some 200,000 people working in the industry.
All for-profit performances are expected to go through an approval process prior to their launch, and the bureau’s supervision department is expected to monitor the performances on site.
Yang said experts will read the reports from volunteer inspectors. “We don’t depend on them but we’ll try to train them in artistic appreciation.”
He said the move was not new as the bureau has always received audience feedback on shows.
Yang said the guideline is still preliminary and local communities will decide how to implement it.
Wang Xiang, founder of the Penghao theater, an 80-seat venue off Nanluoguxiang, said he’s doubtful about the guideline’s feasibility.
“It’s hard for anyone to term the value or effect of an art show. Whether art has a standard at all is itself a question that is difficult to answer,” Wang said.
Cheng Zhijian, project manager with the comedy workshop Improve First, said its productions won’t be affected as they already go through an approval process before going public. However, he disliked the idea of another screening. “Sometimes you have to express something good by establishing a bad thing in the first place. What would the volunteer inspectors say to that?”
Others think proper inspections are necessary. “There are some crude and crass shows around that should be out of our sight,” said independent drama critic Bei Xiaojing.
“Besides, real masterpieces are never vulgar,” Bei said, “What the industry should work hard on is this: produce quality shows and win over all the audiences, inspectors included.”