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Tianjin University Plans to Conduct New Development Initiatives in Tanchang County

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On June 9, 2018, China's second "Cultural and Natural Heritage Day", the protection and development of intangible cultural heritage once again became the focal point for public discussion.

“It is very important to ensure the inheritance and protection of the intangible cultural heritage and promote the coordinated development of intangible cultural heritage assets and such industries as tourism so as to achieve a win-win result”, Feng Jicai, a Member of the Standing Committee of the CPPCC National Committee and Director of the Feng Jicai Research Institute of Literature and Art of Tianjin University, said to Li Jiangong, Chief Executive of the People’s Government of Tanchang County, said at the time of those discussions.

Tanchang, located in Longnan, Gansu Province, is given pairing-assistance by Tianjin University. As early as in 2013, Tianjin University set up a designated leadership team to conduct on-site investigations, exchange resources, and assign cadres to help Tanchang in poverty alleviation.

On the basis of a series of works such as “Poverty Alleviation through Education,” “Poverty Alleviation through Consumerism,” and “Poverty Alleviation through E-commerce”, Tianjin University, in light of the actual situation in Tanchang, proposed a new measure: “intangible cultural heritage + tourism”. It means that at the same time as a good job is being done in the protection of local intangible culture, the tourism industry should be also vigorously developed. "Tianjin University's Work Vision for Poverty Alleviation through Intangible Cultural Heritage" (Work Vision) has also been rated as one of the first batch of "Poverty Alleviation through Intangible Cultural Heritage" demonstration projects in universities directly under the Ministry of Education.

Arts and crafts made through Tanchang Xuanhuo (a kind of carpentry) which is a local intangible cultural heritage resource.

“Historically, because of high mountains and being inconvenient for traffic, special geographical conditions made for the growth and inheritance of folk culture,” said by Wu Jinke from Tianjin University to serve as Deputy Chief Executive of the People’s Government of Tanchang County. There are a large number of intangible cultural heritages resources rich in regional features such as Tan Qiang Nuo dance, Tanchang Xuanhuo crafts, Tanchang Shehuo (a kind of Chinese festival entertainment). With the support of the local government, cadres from Tianjin University conducted field research, visited the inheritors of intangible cultural techniques, and recorded and investigated the intangible cultural heritage preserved locally. According to statistics, Tanchang boasted 23 listed intangible cultural heritage assets by 2017, including one at provincial level, 15 at municipal level, and seven at county level.

Tan Qiang Nuo dance, one of the first batch of locally listed municipal intangible cultural heritage assets

There is a clear plan in “Work Vision” to protect and develop local intangible cultural heritage assets. In the future, Tianjin University will fully utilize the rich experience and advantages of the Feng Jicai Research Institute of Literature and Art at Tianjin University in the protection and inheritance of intangible cultural heritage assets to further explore local unique intangible cultural heritage resources and establish systematic archives. All of those will be collected and extracted to form a series of visualized exhibits, which will be closely integrated with the development of pillar industries such as tourism and Chinese herbal medicines to enhance the core competitiveness of local industries. At the same time, the advantages of university education resources will be used to carry forward intangible cultural heritage preservation.

In November 2017, Tianjin University and the People's Government of Tanchang County signed a series of agreements: Tianjin University contributed 600,000 yuan to support the development of the collective economies in Tanchang’s impoverished villages and set up a 300,000 yuan fund for education and training to build high-end education and training bases and young teacher practice bases.

Tianjin University has further expanded its support to Tanchang in education, culture, industry and many other fields and taken various targeted measures to form a new paradigm with its own characteristics.

By: Ma Zhu
Editors: Sun Xiaofang and Ross Colquhoun