A young musician performs with a guitar near the Super Brand Mall in Shanghai in May. Provided to China Daily
Street performers will soon be able to play their fiddles, drums and guitars and create art and crafts in Shanghai without being bothered by the police or urban management officers.
The city plans to launch an administrative system that will allow street performers to show their talents legitimately. "We'll be the first city in China to open arms to street-side performers," said Luo Huaizhen, a playwright who for the last eight years has urged the Shanghai People's Congress to allow street performers.
On Monday, the city's cultural administration decided to conduct a trial operation of street performers' management. The Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film and TV plans to select some public areas where street performers can set up.
Street performers in China are routinely driven away by the police or urban management officers. Luo said he felt sorry for them whenever he traveled abroad and saw how street performers in other countries livened up the scenery.
"People in China tend to have a bad impression about street performers, seeing them as beggars or homeless people. But in Europe, Japan as well as India - in Mumbai and New Delhi - you can always see artists and performers doing creative shows in public spaces," Luo said. "Quite a lot of good art in our history can trace its origin to the streets."
"People who visited the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai would remember the lively performances given in the waiting zone," said Chi Xiaoling, a staff member of Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film and TV. "That was good proof of the legitimacy of street art shows," she said.
"The management of street shows demands efforts from many sectors of the municipality. China's national laws don't have any clauses about it and no other city in China can provide an example, so that is why it has taken a long time for Shanghai to make the decision to start the trial operation," said Luo, an ardent promoter of street art.
Chen Jing used to perform near the Super Brand Mall in the Pudong New Area of Shanghai. "You don't want to come out in the daytime," Chen said. "After dusk, no police officers or urban management staff will give you trouble. Besides, more people tend to show up after work."
On Aug 11, Chen and several other folk-music lovers played the ukulele for passers-by downtown on Nanjing Road.
"They soon told us to go away because crowds were gathering, and that was forbidden," Chen said.
"They were by no means friendly, but did show an amicable attitude," said Guo Wei, who helped organize the gathering. Guo said he and his colleagues used to organize public performances, and were often driven away by urban management staff.
"We want more people to know about the ukulele and hear the music, and there are simply too few people in a club gathering," Chen said. Both Chen and Guo expressed wholehearted support for the proposal. "We'd love to do it again," Guo said.