Building city of culture for a better life

SHANGHAI is developing new theaters and art museums at former industrial bases along the Huangpu River to become a “center of culture and innovation industries.”

The largest gathering of art museums and parks in Asia is evolving at the riverside area in downtown Xuhui District, known as the West Bund, to become the major hub to achieve the city government's ambition.


Six new major theaters along with 20 “cultural experience spaces” will open to public by the end of 2018 at the Shanghai Dream Center at the West Bund, said Lu Xiaohui, director of the Xuhui government’s publicity department. They will include a 2,500-seat theater and an 1,800-seat concert hall.


Covering 463,000 square meters, the dream center will include performance centers, concert halls and studios. Movie premieres and red carpet events will be held at a 500-seat IMAX cinema. The area will also host the headquarters of Oriental DreamWorks, a joint venture between Shanghai firms and the US-based DreamWorks Animation, said the West Bund Group.


The dream center will also be the flagship attraction of the West Bund Media Port to fully open in 2019 and which is expected to see 20 million visitors a year, Lu told the Sixth China Cultural Industry Capital Forum over the weekend.


Shanghai aims to establish itself as a culture and innovation center with global influence by 2030, when the cultural industry will account for 18 percent of the city's GDP, according to a guideline issued by the city government to support the development of culture and innovation industries.


Meeting changing needs


Culture and innovation industries include film, performance, animation and video games, Internet culture, innovative design, artwork exhibitions and trade as well as publications, according to the guideline.


“These industries are key components to meet people’s ever-growing need for a better life,” said Ying Qiang, deputy director with the leadership office to promote culture and innovation industries.


Xuhui once lagged behind other downtown districts in its number of theaters and galleries. Some shows directed by Xuhui-based companies had to be staged in neighboring Jing’an District. The city government’s opening up of former waterfront industrial sites gave Xuhui plenty of land and former factories to be converted into theaters and museums.


The district is developing a waterfront of 9.4 square kilometers into the West Bund Culture Corridor, the Museum Mile, the West Bund Media Port and other key projects, Lu said.


A series of cultural venues have opened, such as the Long Museum West Bund, Yuz Museum, Shanghai Center of Photography, Tank Shanghai Art Park and Start Museum.

The West Bund group has also signed a memorandum of understanding with France’s Pompidou Center to hold a five-year art exhibition at the under-construction West Bund Art Museum to open in early 2019.