Editor: Wei Rong
The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) will provide a variety of unique cultural activities during the coming sports gala in August, said a senior BOCOG official on Monday.
The Ministry of Culture, Beijing municipal government and the BOCOG have jointly developed the 2008 cultural program and mapped out the Olympic Cultural Festival from June 23 to Sept. 17, said Zhao Dongming, director of BOCOG Culture and Ceremonies Department.
"The cultural festival will last nearly three months throughout the Olympics and Paralympics. It will be a marvelous Olympic cultural event with the longest time, the most abundant contents, the largest number of performance teams and the most complete artistic variety," Zhao said at a press conference at the Main Press Center.
The festival will host significant cultural activities with "Meet in Beijing 2008" as the theme, including Asia Night, Africa Night, Latin America Night, Arab Night, SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) Night and other song and dance shows.
Nearly 20,000 artists from more than 80 countries and regions will feature in 600-plus performances, including those from Hong Kong, Macao and Chinese Taipei.
On Aug. 8 when the Olympics officially opens, the Olympic Expo will also be launched in a grand way at the Beijing Exhibition Center.
"During the Olympic Games, we will strive to make opportunities for ordinary citizens to share the joyful atmosphere. All the Olympic cultural squares, as well as most exhibitions, will be opento the public free of charge," Zhao promised.
According to the official, more than 20 Olympic cultural squares will be set up in Beijing and other co-hosting cities will also stage square cultural activities.
During the Olympic period, there will be nearly 40 international and over 150 domestic exhibitions for arts, artifacts, painting, photography, sculpture, murals and non-material heritage.
While most state-level museums will be open for free during the Olympics, some historical heritage sites, such as the Forbidden City and the Gongwang Mansion, will keep requiring admission fee from visitors in order to better protect the heritages, Zhao explained.
As theatre performances will be aimed for public welfare during the Olympic Games, the government has started to provide subsidies for domestic art troupes, together with low-price tickets.
During the cultural activities, "we definitely put security as our priority to ensure a worry-free Olympic Games. We will intensify our efforts to help the public understand the importance of security check," Zhao said.
In the Olympic Center Area and Olympic Village, people can also enjoy Lucky Clouds Theatre, China Story exhibition, Fuwa Mobile Show, Flag-raising Square performance, folk custom shows and Chinese learning areas.
Ding Baizhi, deputy director of BOCOG Culture and Ceremonies Department, said "cultural activities in the Olympic Village have three features of evening square performances, exhibitions and experience activities to combine eastern and western culture and help foreign athletes taste Chinese culture themselves."
At the flag-raising square in the Olympic Village, art troupes perform every night for 90 minutes, bilingual hostess may invite spectators to the evening performance of traditional Chinese dances and acrobatics as well as foreign songs, and 25 Chinese folk artists made group debut at the commercial street in the village to showcase handcraft art treasures, such as shadow play, clay sculpture with colorful painting.
As long as foreign athletes are willing, they can join to learn at the spot, Ding said.
Chinese language learning seems to be the most popular program in the Olympic Village. There is a special venue, always full of people, in the village to teach foreign athletes, coaches and officials how to read and writer Chinese.
"The arrangement of language learning had not been seen in previous Olympic Games, a difference of the Beijing Olympic Games," Ding said.(source: Xinhua)