CHINA - Eight street artists with an authorised performing license, the first of its kind in China, performed at a central square in East China's Shanghai municipality on Saturday, thepaper.cn reported on Sunday.
The artists, who obtained the licenses issued by Shanghai Performance Trade Association (SPTA), performed a wide range of art forms, such as playing a musical instrument, doing acrobatics, performing magic and making handicrafts. They will launch a pilot performance along Anyi road in the Jing'an district of Shanghai for the following month "at an appointed time and area".
"Street art as an urban landscape is an indispensible part of building Shanghai to be an international metropolis, but it must be strictly regulated," said Wei Zhi, president of SPTA. "They are neither tramps nor beggars but art professionals whose cultural cultivation should be in line with the metropolis' image".
The SPTA took one year to pick the qualified eight from more than 100 buskers and sent them to professional institutes such as the Shanghai Theater Academy, where they worked with coaches tailored to their needs.
Li Xionggang, a master of turning waste pop cans into pieces of art, was one of the first licensed artists. He was quoted by Dongguang News Radio as saying that those street artists who make a living by craftsmanship and performance "had no organisation and performed at unfixed places", and thus were often not welcomed by urban management officers. "The issuance of a license brings us the understanding from the government and the recognition from the citizens. We are glad to perform under permission."
The move also drew public attention on the Internet.
A supporter who uses a pseudonym "Yeyoudao" on twitter-like Sina Weibo, believes that the issuance of a license "is for the benefit of statistics and management and guarantees the right of the true street artists" by setting them apart from beggars performing "art".
But a blogger nicknamed "Jungong 123" takes an opposite stance by arguing that the charisma of street art lies in its mobility and casualness. The fixed performance is like "an animal in a cage that is unable to show its natural beauty".
Another blogger, called "Manbuxinshenghuo", even suggests the authority take a step further by bringing square dancers under management, as some play loud music, disturbing nearby residents.