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Construction of a modern public cultural service system and an international cultural metropolis in Shanghai

May 23, 2017

The Shanghai Municipal Government’s Information Office held a press conference on April 25 about the construction of a modern public cultural service system and an international cultural metropolis in Shanghai. The following are the highlights:

Bei Zhaojian, deputy director, Shanghai Culture, Radio Broadcasting, Film and Television Administration
Peng Weiguo, deputy director, Shanghai Press and Publication Bureau

STV: According to the 13th Five-Year Plan for the city’s cultural development issued by the Shanghai government at the end of last year, the city will build a number of cultural facilities such as the east branch of Shanghai Museum, the grand opera house and World Expo Park. I want to know about the new blueprint for all kinds of cultural facilities in the city in the coming years.

Bei Zhaojian: Altogether 30 cultural facility projects mentioned in the 12th Five-Year Plan are under construction, with a total floor space of 980,000 square meters. Shanghai leads the country in terms of the number, systematic nature and professionalism of major cultural facilities. We compared Shanghai with international metropolises like New York, London and Paris when drafting the 13th Five-Year Plan. The number of public cultural facilities in Shanghai was about half to two thirds of those three cities and the number of museums and theaters was one third to half of them. The number of public cultural facilities enjoyed by every 1 million people in Shanghai accounted for only one fifth to one third of those in London and Paris. The 13th Five-Year Plan designed a new arrangement of “two axes, one corridor, two cores and multiple spots” for the city’s cultural development. During the 13th Five-Year Plan, Shanghai will build three to four new cultural landmarks to facilitate construction of regional cultural facilities, including the east branch of Shanghai Museum, the east branch of Shanghai Library and the Shanghai grand opera house. By the end of 2020, we can ensure that the per capita public cultural facility area for the permanent population will increase by 20 percent from the present level.

We will focus our efforts on two aspects. First, strengthen construction of the cultural facilities system and optimize the cultural facilities arrangement in the city. We will build two downtown museum agglomerations centering on People’s Square and the World Expo Riverside area, facilitating construction of the east branch of Shanghai Museum, Shanghai History Museum, Shanghai Literature Museum and Shanghai Planetarium. In the suburbs, we will build three archeological museums, namely Songze Relics Museum, Guangfulin Relics Museum and Qinglong Town Relics Museum. We will try to raise the total number of the museums in the city to 150 by 2020. As for libraries, we will complete construction of the east branch of Shanghai Library and Shanghai Children’s Library, pushing forward construction and expansion of libraries at city and district levels. By 2020, 150,000 square meters of public libraries should be newly built and a 15-minute reading circle should be formed. That is, people can find a library within a 15-minute walk from home. We will also build two theater belts along the city’s central axis and the banks of the Huangpu River, with nine featured theater blocks. Two to three world advanced professional theaters, like the Shanghai grand opera house, will be built and a group of small- and mid-size theaters will be built or restored. By 2020, the total number of theaters in the city should approach 230.

Second, we will optimize the cultural space arrangement by building two urban core function areas and three cultural facility complexes. At the People’s Square urban cultural core area, Shanghai History Museum will be built and the Great Theater of China, Huangpu Theater and Changjiang Theater will be rebuilt. At the Huamu urban cultural core area, the east branches of Shanghai Museum and Shanghai Library will be built. More cultural facilities will be located at regional cultural areas in Lujiazui, World Expo site and Xuhui Riverside. North to the Suzhou Creek, functional cultural facilities will be built in Putuo’s Taopu, Yangpu Riverside and Baoshan’s Dachang, featuring Taopu Culture and Art Center and industrial museum complex at Yangpu Riverside. In the suburbs, more cultural facilities will be built in Jiading New Town, Qingpu New Town, Nanhui Lingang and Fengxian Nanqiao.

China National Radio: Shanghai will hold the 12th China Art Festival in 2019. How are the preparations? Are there any different features for the festival compared with previous Shanghai International Art Festivals?

Last year Shanghai won the right to host the 12th China Art Festival in 2019. The preparation work scheme has been approved by the city government and work is going on smoothly according to the scheme.

The festival will become an art gala and a festival for the people and also an event to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. We will follow the principles of innovation, openness, high quality, benefitting the people, frugality and sustainability in preparing for and hosting the festival. Various cultural and art activities like performances and exhibitions will be organized in all the 16 districts. In addition to the opening and closing ceremonies, the festival will issue the Wenhua Award and the Galaxy Award and organize art, calligraphy, seal cutting and performance trades. The China Art Festival has displayed the nation’s artistic achievements in the past three years while the Shanghai International Art Festival focuses on cultural exchanges with foreign countries. Major preparatory work for this year include selecting and restoring a group of venues qualified for holding festival activities, starting to build an online platform for people to check information, buy tickets and make reservations during the festival and encouraging local artistic creation. The selected venues will become public cultural facilities after the festival.

Jiefang Daily: Director Peng just mentioned that the legislative process of Shanghai’s universal or citywide reading will be accelerated and a draft regulation to promote citywide reading will be put before the Shanghai People’s Congress. What kind of Shanghai characteristics will be reflected in the regulation and how will it promote reading among local residents?

Peng Weiguo: We conducted research and began drafting the regulation to promote citywide reading last year. Currently, a national regulation about reading is also soliciting suggestions. The local legislation about reading will reflect Shanghai’s characteristics as an international metropolis and the support function of local governments at all levels. The regulation will stipulate requirements on optimizing allocation of reading resources, guaranteeing basic reading rights and pooling social forces to promote reading.

Lianhe Zaobao: Two bookstores opened in Shanghai on April 23 but the number of bookstores in the city is still not enough for the local population. How many brick & mortar bookstores are there in Shanghai? Can the bookstore number reach the expected level by the end of 2020? What’s the government’s view on whether reading can improve citizens’ quality or not?

Peng Weiguo: According to incomplete statistics, Shanghai has around 800 brick & mortar bookstores and more than 1,000 units licensed for book retailing. According to a newly issued guideline, every 80,000 people should have some reading space. How long can a bookstore be open should depend on the market. Let’s see how many brick & mortar bookstores will be in the city by 2020.

As for the second question, it is obvious that reading can improve people’s civil habits because reading imparts education and cultivates temperament. The government is taking various measures to promote reading so as to improve civil behavior, which changes imperceptibly. What advantages does Shanghai have to promote reading and how will you guide different groups of people to read?

Peng Weiguo: Shanghai boasts a number of publishing agencies which publish a great many good-quality books every year. This is one of our advantages.

Secondly, Shanghai has a good culture atmosphere and citizens are keen on reading. This is a good base to promote citywide reading.

Thirdly, the society, market and government have a common goal of advancing people’s reading. The government will coordinate and make promotions in terms of pooling resources, creating a good reading environment and providing good books so that universal reading in Shanghai has a certain unique characteristics and influence.