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2014.01.10 Fri, by Translated by: 燃点
Beijing Establishes National Art Foundation

China’s Ministry of Culture has announced the establishment [in Chinese] of a new state-led funding body: the China National Arts Foundation (CNAF, [Guojia Yishu Jijin 国家艺术基金]. The announcement was made on December 30, 2013 at a symposium concerning the establishment of this foundation. The foundation is purportedly dedicated to the public good, and will derive most of its funding from the Central Government; at the same time, it will also accept donations from individuals, legal persons and entities, or other generously spirited organizations. The foundation will focus on four main areas: the production of creative works, “propaganda and promotion”, collection, and the cultivation of talent—with the main emphasis on artistic creation. In terms of its organization and management, the foundation will set up a board of directors, an operations center, and a “committee of experts” [Zhuanjia Weiyuanhui 专家委员会]. Additionally, the foundation will be will address various levels of society from the state owned, private sector and individuals—all groups are in theory welcome to apply for funding.

Cai Wu, the Chinese Minister of Culture, laid out the goals for the foundation much in the same way one might outline industrial production targets of a five-year plan. “The implementation and development of the National Art Foundation must strive to excel in the following areas: First, it must play a leading and exemplary function in introducing greater numbers of exceptional works and talent; second, it must play an incubating function, allowing all kinds of artistic creation to grow dynamically; third, it must communicate and cooperate effectively, strengthening ‘top design,’ and pragmatically elevating the scientific standards of management.”

The foundation will disburse for individual projects, to be allocated according to the particular category of the project and appraisal thereof; for the encouragement of talent, commending and encouraging outstanding works and individual creators; and matching funds, in other words, leading and encouraging a broader social support of artistic development by providing matching funding, within limits, to projects that have received funds from other organizations.

The approach to funding allotment has not been fully divulged, and as usual, the devil is in the details. Given the historical interaction of the official art circle and the independent art scene, this announcement is likely to be met with widespread skepticism. It also remains to be seen whether there will be support for provocative artists and experimental projects—instead of, say, hyper-realistic depictions of historical moments. The foundation will have to do much to prove, in words as well as in action, that it will go beyond the usual remit of ideological guidance and funding of officially affiliated organizations.