Across China: Night art lessons, a new color in Chinese youngsters' daily lives-Xinhua

Across China: Night art lessons, a new color in Chinese youngsters' daily lives

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-12-14 17:18:30

SHANGHAI, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- This year, 29-year-old Shanghai resident Yang Xu has taken up a new hobby: seal carving.

Yang got involved in the art of seal carving through a class at a local night school. "I used to spend my leisure hours staring at my smartphone," Yang said. "Now, I spend one and a half hours at the seal cutting class everyday, and found fulfillment and tranquility in it."

Night classes were very popular in the 1980s, when many young Chinese people sought to learn new skills to make a living. Today, these classes are again gaining popularity among young people, though they now serve the purpose of enriching cultural and intellectual needs.

The night art school that Yang attends was established by the local government for Shanghai residents in 2016. According to a curriculum from the school's branch in Hongkou District, people can choose from a wide variety of subjects, from traditional Chinese handicrafts such as paper cutting to modern arts such as improv acting.

For those who are interested, the school provides 12 90-minute classes at a cost of 500 yuan (about 70 U.S. dollars). "On average, the price for each hour of class is roughly the same as a bubble tea," said Cheng Qi, an office worker who took street dance classes at the school.

Before the night school was opened, young people had trouble finding and affording classes if they were interested in traditional art, Cheng said. "Today, the night school provides all these classes at a reasonable price, taught by professional instructors and renowned artists. I'd be surprised if it weren't so popular."

The popularity of studying art at night schools is not unique to Shanghai. In provinces like Guangdong and Zhejiang, night schools with diverse art class options are also attracting local residents. According to data from online services platforms Meituan and Dianping, user searches for "night school" have increased about 980 percent year on year.

For many young people, night classes are a retreat from the hustle and bustle of work and daily life. "The stress of making a living creates a lot of anxiety," Yang said. "People need a place where they can rest their minds, and night art classes can be that place."

In addition to providing young people with a place to relax, night art classes have also injected vitality into traditional Chinese culture, attracting many young people like Yang.

Liu Jia, who works at the culture and art center of Shanghai's Changning District, has observed that the classes have ignited young people's enthusiasm for their traditional culture.

"Many traditional art forms, including those designated as intangible cultural heritage, were once only popular in small circles," Liu said, noting that night schools expand the audiences for these art forms significantly by introducing them to young people.

"The high-quality and sufficient fulfillment of the public's artistic needs can be of great help in elevating cultural confidence, civility and artistic taste throughout society," Liu said.