Using multimedia to reach youth's hearts
Artists and writers from Beijing, Hangzhou and Yangzhou gathered at an art and literature event held in Tongzhou district, Beijing, on Sept 24, to perform and discuss ways to attract more young people to learn about the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal.
"Young people have many ways to acquire knowledge and culture, like online literature and short and long videos, and we hope to promote the canal culture in the ways that interest them," said Zhang Wei, an online novelist.
Zhang, approached by the Beijing publicity authorities to promote the canal, has written a romantic novel about a woman from Hangzhou and a man working in Beijing.
The hero designs a travel route along the canal from Hangzhou to Beijing for the heroine. Important cultural sites related to the canal can be found in the story. Together they contribute to restoring Baifu Spring, the northernmost end of the canal during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).
"I have seen previous stories related to the canal and most of them are from a historical perspective," Zhang said, adding that he wanted to write a lighthearted contemporary story.
To promote the canal, it is necessary to make people, especially the youth, know what the canal looks like and its beauty, he said, adding that he tries to write the canal into the novel.
Zhang suggested relics related to the canal, such as the Baifu Spring site, can be well preserved, which would help the public to learn more about the canal and lead them to participate in its protection.
Thursday's activity was held on a sightseeing boat on the Tongzhou section of the canal, as part of the 2020 Beijing-Hangzhou Dialogue on the Grand Canal that began on Wednesday.
Lu Chunxiang, vice-president of the Zhejiang Writers Association, said: "The canal is a national lifeline and many cities and villages on the banks were built and prospered because of the canal."
Lu lives beside the canal in Hangzhou and he finds it peaceful and steadfast. He said it was his first visit to Tongzhou, yet it felt familiar, as if he were at the park beside his home.
He said that since young people like using new media, such as WeChat and short video platforms, these can be used to promote the canal culture. Although the media forms seem fragmented, they would have a good publicity effect on young audiences.
Ge Xuebin, deputy head of the Zhejiang Publicity Department, said he thinks the literature and art event would help demonstrate the canal's vitality and tell its stories.
During the event, Zhang Xinyue from the Jingju Theater Company of Beijing staged a Peking Opera performance; Zhou Yujun and Jin Yujiao, actors from Hangzhou, performed Shaoxing Opera; soprano Wang Lida sang a northern-style song about the canal. There were other performances of dance and Yangzhou Opera, as well calligraphy and painting demonstrations and poetry readings.