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No more running for authorized street artists in Shanghai

Updated: 2014-12-11 14:36

No more running for authorized street artists in Shanghai

Wang Shiping and his brother perform before crowds, attracting much attention in a square in Shanghai on Oct 25, 2014. [Photo/IC]

In Malaysia, street artists are allowed to perform in designated areas, as long as they get an authorized certificate through an examination.

Austrilia, the US, Spain and other countries also regard street performers as working in a recognized occupation, which is supervised by the government.

Take New York, for example. For those street artists who perform to make a living, the government requires them to perform in specified areas after they acquire a legal license. The government takes a liberal attitude towards those who perform for fun without accepting donations.

Acknowledging the working conditions of some foreign street artists, Wang Shiping hoped someday their Chinese counterparts could perform with dignity by holding an authorized certificate.

Luck arrived. At the end of 2013, the Wangs secured their seat to get the street performance certificate issued by the SPTA after joining in several rounds of fierce auditions and competition.

The birth of the certificate in Shanghai is the result of 10 long years of efforts by Luo Huaizhen. He has pushed forward the legalization of the street performance in a bid to revive the thriving cultural atmosphere once seen in the old town of Shanghai in the early 20th century. In 2004, Luo, a playwright, became the first to submit a proposal giving street artists a legalized status.

"Accepting pity or accepting appreciation is the dividing line between begging and street arts," China Youth Daily quoted Luo in a story on Wednesday.

Street artists have become a distinctive sight in some American and European cities, which colors the city with a sense of "humanity and vitality," Luo said, "It is what our cities lack and expect."

Shanghai's attempt is a conception in progress, said Sun Wei, a professor at the school of journalism at Fudan University.

Sun believes that if Shanghai wants to be a city with distinct characteristics like Paris, it needs to create cultural bonds, rather than rely on a commercial force, to unite people by combining the city's spatial layout with human elements.

A street artist is one of the elements to help nurture Shanghai's cultural atmosphere, said Bei Zhaojian, deputy chief of the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film and TV.

For a street performer like Wang Shiping, who experienced years of running from city authorities, for the first time he feels that Shanghai welcomes him.

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