Beijing's Cultural Dominance?

Gmail's news scroll provides something interesting every now and then, even something blog worthy, yesterday was one such situation. The government is currently launching a program in over 200 schools in 10 provinces adding Peking Opera to the music curriculum.

While I like the idea of expanding and diversifying the curriculum and especially the attempt to embrace traditional Chinese culture, I'm not sure how good an idea this is. The public has concerns about how much this program will actually promote traditional culture and there is a fear that many, if not all, the teachers who will be in charge of teaching Peking Opera classes will lack a serious (or any at all) background in this very intricate art form.

The provinces selected for the test program are Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Guangdong, Heilongjiang, Jiangxi, Gansu, and Hubei. I agree that the lack of trained teachers will be a huge problem, but my other complaint, one that the article doesn't touch on, is that while there may be a misunderstanding in the west, Peking Opera refers to a specific art form that is relatively unique to Beijing (or at least the northern region). Shanghai, Guangdong, Zhejiang, and Gansu all have their own unique forms of traditional opera. This issue touches on what was brought up in my CCTV post from a few days ago, a policy chosen by the central government seems to ignore regional differences. What makes this one Beijing centric form of art more important to protect and promote in these regions over other, more local art forms?

You can view the original article that inspired this post here, as well as an interesting article on Kunqu, which is said to have influenced Peking Opera, on Shanghaiist.

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