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The Arts in China
Jon Riley

Background Information

China has always been seen as one of the worlds super powers when it comes to the arts, technology innovation, and many other fields. With a whopping 1,330,141,295 citizens (July 2010 estimate) China is the most populated country in the entire world by a margin of over 300 million people. Despite a GDP of $8.789 trillion, which ranks 3rd in the world, China only spends 1.9% of it's GDP on Education; a stat that ranks 169th worldwide. This lack of education funding could be part of the reason that the rich Chinese arts that have been seen for centuries have, more recently been on the decline. For centuries, China was considered one of the world leaders when it came to arts and literature, but more recently there has been a focus shift towards manufacturing and being a technological superpower.

Artist ProfileCui Jian

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Cui Jian is an Chinese Singer-Songwriter, Trumpet player, and Guitar player. He was born into an artistic family, as his father was a professional trumpet player and his mother was a dancer. Jian was one of the first Chinese artists to write rock music and is widely regarded as being "The Father of Chinese Rock." Jian started off as a trumpet player but was inspired to learn to play the guitar by American Musicians John Denver as well as Simon and Garfunkel. Some of his popular songs include "Nothing To My Name" which was used as an anthem for students during the Tiananmen Square protests.

Program Profile - The China Children's Art Theatre (CCAT)


The China Children's Art Theatre or the CCAT was founded in 1956. Since it's creation, the CCAT has run more than 130 plays for more than 380million children in China. It's style draws from traditional and as well as modern aspects of Chinese culture. It's productions have won 18 national awards and more than 60 artists have been honored for their work.

Community Programs

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The Malan Flower Art Training School is attached to the CCAT and it uses many of it's actors as instructors. The Malan Flower Art Training School uses a School of Arts curriculum as it's comprehensive training course. It uses performances, readings, body, dance, and song in it's training. The Malan Flower Art Training School's purpose is "to rely on high quality education resources, in accordance with the populariztion of artistic knowledge, professional skills training and comprehensive quality." It's goal is for the development and training of the talents for the children to provide a display of artistic talent in the performing arts.

Funding of Arts Education

The funding of arts education programs in China is very much limited to a program to program basis. China only spends 1.9% of their GDP on it's education and the arts are only 2/16 of the programs that are taught in primary schools. This means that outside arts programs (such as the CCAT) need to draw on their exceptional nature and strong pedigree to create funding and keep their programs sustainable.

Teacher Training Programs

Chinese secondary education, which trains primary, kindergarten, and special education teachers offers 3 year and 4 year programs. Teachers that are involved with these programs are subjected to 4 separate sets of courses - compulsory courses, optional courses, teaching practice, and extracurricular activities. The compulsory courses that each teacher studies are: Ideological and Political Education, Chinese (including Methodology of Chinese Teaching in Primary Schools), Mathematics (including Methodology of Mathematics Teaching in Primary Schools), Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, Geography, Psychology, Pedagogy for Primary School, Basic Audio-visual Education, Physical Education, Music, Fine Arts, Laboring Skills, and Basics of Computer Application. The arts play a very small role in the training of teachers in China, as Music and the Fine Arts are just 2 of 16 of the subjects that are focused on as the countries teachers are trained.


It was a big surprise to find out how little China spends on it's education after having such a large income as a country. It wasn't surprising to find out that the arts have fallen out of the picture with more manufacturing and production type training taking it's place, but the extent that the arts had fallen off the radar of a country with such a heritage rich in the arts was really surprising. Compared to my own experiences, it seems like China has cut out arts more than I ever experienced. All the way through High School and even into College, I've always had the opportunity to participate in the Arts of some sort to some extent, and it seems like in China, although it is covered in primary schools, arts aren't given nearly as many resources and funding as they are in the US.


CIA - The World Factbook - https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ch.html

Art Education in China - http://np.china-embassy.org/eng/Education/t167599.htm

Cui Jian - Nothing To My Name - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPZTC_Gkm64

Teacher Education in China - http://www.edu.cn/20010101/21925.shtml

China Children's Art Theatre - http://www.chinaculture.org/library/2008-02/18/content_43216.htm

China Children's Art Theatre (assisted by Google Translate) - http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=zh-CN&u=http://www.ccat.name/&ei=QTxfTI_BCcL48Abv4vW5DQ&sa=X&oi=translate&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBkQ7gEwAA&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dwww.ccat.name%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26hs%3DLYa%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official