A former theater in Shanghai's Huangpu District, the Shanghai Dashijie, will reopen next October as the Shanghai Intangible Cultural Heritage Exhibition Center, the district government said yesterday.
The building on the Xizang Road S. has been closed since 2003, but will reopen after being renovated, it said in a press release.
"Many national and city-level intangible cultural heritage skills will be performed on stage, while some handicrafts will be exhibited," said Xue Mingyang, a senior official with the standing committee of local legislative body.
The city already has 55 national-level and 220 city-level "intangible cultural heritages," said Wang Xiaoming, deputy director of the Shanghai Culture, Radio Broadcasting, Film and Television Administration Bureau.
These include paper cutting, dough sculpture and lantern making.
Wang said the skills "need more public exposure to keep them alive."
The Dashijie entertainment center — a 15,000-square-meter property located close to Huaihai Road in the center of Shanghai — was built in 1917 and used to stage Chinese operas, and host singers and acrobats.
It was once the city's most attractive and fashionable entertainment venue.
It also had cinemas, shopping malls, snack bars and restaurants, which offered food from different places around the world.
Its popularity soared to new heights in the 1990s when some people tried to break Guinness World Records there.
Some people probably remember that the center also had 12 "distorting mirrors" in the lobby area. All of these will be incorporated into the new design.
The reason why the center has been closed for so long is because no one knew what to make of it.
Shanghai has a Museum of Arts and Crafts on Fenyang Road in Xuhui District, where some traditional arts and crafts like needlework and sculpture are showcased.
"Most of the masters of these skills have passed away," Wang said.
The city government will "take several measures to prevent these skills from being lost," he said.
The government has spent more than 27 million yuan ($4.2 million) since 2012 on such things.
Local schools and educational institutes, research centers and companies are encouraged to invest in intangible heritage skills.
Some new classes and training sessions will be opened among local universities, while some of the skills will be written into text books.