Students compete for limited spots at Shanghai art, music and film schools
The beginning of March usually marks the advent of spring in Shanghai. Bu it is also a time when he city’s various art schools begin their annual auditions. Hundreds of thousands of aspiring students from all over China flock to Shanghai to show off their artistic or musical skills in attempt to win a spot at prestigious art schools such as Shanghai Theatre Academy, Shanghai Conservatory of Music and the School of Film and TV Art & Technology at Shanghai University.
Behind the popularity of these schools, however, is fierce competition. The number of youngsters applying to Shanghai Theatre Academy has been rising rapidly over the past few years.
According to official figures, the academy’s applicants grew from 11,448 in 2012 to 20,996 in 2016 – almost twice the number from five years ago. This year saw a record-breaking 21,782 applicants. For the school’s most sought-after performing arts major, only one out of 245 applicants will be accepted.
Shanghai Conservatory of Music attracted 1,559 students from every corner of the country to compete for 366 places available this year, setting a new record for the school. The two most coveted majors, vocal music/opera and musicals, drew more than 300 and 150 students to vie for a total of 40 places respectively.
To secure a spot at these schools, young applicants must go through at least two rounds, including a written test and a live audition.
While China’s gaokao (national college entrance examinations) places paramount emphasis on students’ academic performance, art schools attach far greater attention to artistic abilities, drive, creativity and originality and, of course, one’s physical appearance.
Accordingly, there have been many news stories about eager parents spending tens of thousands of yuan to transform their young child into would-be stars by undergoing plastic surgery or spending all their free time at cram schools.
Applicants wait outside the School of Film and TV Art & Technology at Shanghai University.