Forum points way for city to become cultural hub

White paper released at event unveils Beijing's growing industrial strengths

The inaugural Beijing Culture Forum opens on Monday, attracting experts and industry insiders to discuss topical issues. (ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY)

The inaugural Beijing Culture Forum, which highlighted progress made by the capital in its cultural construction and cultural heritage protection, wrapped up on Tuesday.

With the permanent theme of "inheritance, creativity and mutual learning", the two-day event gathered more than 500 officials, experts and cultural industry practitioners to discuss new trends in cultural reform and put forward innovative ways for the high-quality development of the cultural industry.

Showing Beijing's determination to build itself into the country's cultural center, the forum included an opening ceremony, main forum and four subforums respectively themed on cultural inheritance and evolution; cultural exchange and cooperation; the integrated development of culture and technology; as well as the creation and dissemination of high-quality literary and artistic works.

Organizers also lined up tours of Beijing's central axis, Shougang Industrial Park and the Grand Canal Museum, as well as other cultural attractions in the capital, for forum participants.

Addressing the event, an official of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, stressed the importance of transforming the forum into a first-class platform for promoting cultural development and innovation, and shaping it into a cultural brand with Chinese allure and global influence.

At the forum's opening ceremony, he called for more efforts to strengthen public confidence in Chinese culture, meet the intellectual and cultural needs of the people, and deepen dialogues among civilizations.

Participants chat after the opening ceremony of the Beijing Culture Forum on Monday. (ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY)

The forum aims to grow into a platform to display outstanding achievements in the city's cultural construction, exchange experiences in the field, collaborate in cultural innovation and development, and tell China's stories to the world, said a Beijing official.

Another official from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism gave a speech that emphasized the importance of integrating culture and tourism, saying that diversified cultural resources should be used to upgrade tourism products and enhance tourists' travel experiences.

"Tourism development can help to revitalize China's fine traditional culture, carry on the revolutionary culture and promote the advanced socialist culture," he said.

He added that museums, galleries, libraries, theaters and other cultural spaces should be developed into tourist destinations.

In a roundtable discussion, An Laishun, vice-president of the International Council of Museums, said Beijing, a city with 204 museums, seven World Cultural Heritage Sites and more than 3,800 unmovable cultural relics, has the potential to grow into "a city of museums".

Shao Tianshuai, an actress of the Northern Kunqu Opera Theatre in Beijing, said that as Beijing has made efforts to build itself into China's cultural center, performers get to enjoy a better environment for creating high-quality works.

Shao said she was most interested in the discussion on how to conduct international cultural exchanges and how to carry out the integration of traditional arts and new forms of business. "I'm inspired by the event to continue to play an active role in Beijing's cultural construction, showing the world the charms of Kunqu Opera," she added.

An original symphony is performed at the opening ceremony of the Cultural Festival of Western Hills and Yongding River of Beijing, a parallel event. (ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY)

The forum also noted 10 major events in the capital's efforts to build itself into a national cultural center.

The progress made by Beijing to have its central axis put on the UNESCO list of World Cultural Heritage Sites, and the fact that Beijing's cultural industry generated 1.76 trillion yuan ($261 billion) in 2021, a year-on-year increase of 17.5 percent, were highlighted among the 10 major cultural achievements.

The other major events are the art performance at the National Stadium in Beijing titled The Great Journey, which was held to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC; the archaeological discovery made at the nearly 3,000-year-old city ruins in the Liulihe site in Beijing's Fangshan district; the first China Internet Civilization Conference in Beijing; the launch of CCTV-8K, an 8K ultrahigh definition TV channel; the founding of the Museum of the CPC; the opening of Universal Beijing Resort; the release of films and TV series that depict the epic revolutionary history of China, such as the TV series The Age of Awakening and the movie The Battle at Lake Changjin; and Beijing's great endeavors to spark residents' interest in reading, including opening more offline bookstores and organizing reading activities.

The Beijing Culture Industry Development White Paper was also released at the subforum on the integrated development of culture and technology, which unveils official statistics showing that Beijing's cultural industry kept steady development momentum despite the COVID-19 challenges last year.

Profit for the city's cultural industry reached 142 billion yuan in 2021, up 47.5 percent year-on-year.

Forum participants visit a museum, which features traditional Beijing crafts, during the forum. (ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY)

Beijing's per capita cultural and entertainment spending was 1,367 yuan, registering an annual increase of 12.2 percent, according to statistics.

The white paper also manifests the large strides made by Beijing in the digitalization of its cultural industry. The city is home to more than 1,700 digital culture enterprises, generating a total revenue of around 1.14 trillion yuan last year, up 23.5 percent year-on-year.

In recent years, digital technologies have been playing an increasingly important role in diversifying people's experience when they are exploring diverse cultures.

For instance, cultural institutes such as the National Center for Performing Arts and Beijing People's Art Theatre broadcast their shows online in 8K quality to a wider audience.

Chen Yanshun, chairman of BOE Technology Group, said that digital technologies have helped to upgrade and transform traditional cultural sectors to boost their income. And new cultural businesses such as online literature, mobile games and short videos are flourishing in the market.

On Monday night, the forum participants were invited to watch a variety show that included a symphony, stage play and singing which expressed the capital's evolution throughout history, and promoted revolutionary culture as well as the stellar achievements in Beijing's cultural construction.

The show also announced the Cultural Festival of Western Hills and Yongding River of Beijing, which will run through September. It is to include various cultural activities such as a photography competition, exhibitions and hiking tours along Beijing's ancient paths, with the aim to promote culture and tourism integration.