By Zhao Wen and Li Anlan | 2013-1-29 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
Local political advisers work yesterday at the ongoing annual advisory session.
SHANGHAI will offer government-subsidized tickets to 250 high-end stage performances as a way to encourage local residents to enrich their cultural lives, officials said.
Some, however, say prices still are too high and more comprehensive measures should be phased in.
The announcement on discounts was made by acting Mayor Yang Xiong on Sunday during a session of the ongoing Shanghai People's Congress.
Nearly 50,000 people paid much lower than market prices to attend some 200 commercial stage performances including concerts, musicals, stage plays, ballet and operas last year under the measure, which began in 2011. This year, 250 performances will be offered, Yang said.
Fourteen theaters downtown are obliged to offer special tickets at no more than 80 yuan (US$12.90) when a typical ticket ranges from around 200 or 300 yuan to over 1,000 yuan. Concerts by famous singers are not included in the low-price ticket action.
One official said the cost still makes culture unattainable.
"The ticket price is too high for ordinary people and stops them from embracing art and music," said Zhu Guojian, vice director of policy and law department of Shanghai Tourism Administration and a member of the Shanghai Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
The average monthly salary for local residents was 4,331 yuan in 2011.
"Apparently, watching stage performances is a high-end consumption for most Chinese who earn only thousands of yuan per month. It is a luxury rather than cultural enjoyment," Zhu said.
A marketing official with the city's culture, radio, film and TV administration said that when the ticket price is reduced to within 80 yuan, residents are more than happy to buy it.
The attendance rate of low-price performances was around 80 to 90 percent, more than tripled the average attendance rate citywide at only 26 percent.
The 14 theaters, including the Shanghai Grand Theater, Shanghai Oriental Art Center and Shanghai Cultural Square, are also required to commit 5 percent of the tickets for performances at no more than 80 yuan.
The government investment for low-price but high-end stage performances is 10 million yuan every year.
Zhu suggested a better long-term measure is for the government to gradually lower the costs to stage performances by cutting the ticket price. He made the suggestion in a proposal he handed to the committee yesterday. He also suggested Shanghai build its own performing arts center like the West End of London and the Broadway in New York.
"Without culture, Shanghai is as dry as a zombie city without vigor," Zhu said.
The administration said limits on ticket prices is not feasible in China as the government would not have enough money to subsidize the gap. Troupes would be unwilling to perform under such limits, officials said.