Villages' Spring Festival galas help drive growth
TAIYUAN — What magical sounds can be made with only soybeans and dustpans? No one is more familiar with the answer than a rural band consisting of 20 older men, of which the oldest is 77 years old.
Located about 260 kilometers from Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi province, Bozhuang village showcases a unique Spring Festival gala. With all performers coming from surrounding villages and playing their handmade musical instruments, videos of the event have generated nearly 8 million views on short-video platform Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.
As Spring Festival approaches each year, these 20 performers, most of whom work as cattlemen, tilers or cooks, temporarily put down their usual tools and pick up their musical instruments to join the biggest event of the year in their hometown, performing for hundreds of villagers and many more online.
Zhang Yong, the 46-year-old organizer of the "village gala", is also a provincial inheritor of the national intangible cultural heritage known as "Gong and drums in southern Shanxi".
Knowing his friends to be skilled folk art performers — some play instruments such as the suona while others can perform dragon or lion dances — he organized the gala to give them a chance to show off their talents.
"With millions of viewers watching in our livestream room, we're not worried about there being no one in the audience," said Cheng Beicheng, 65, who leads the band.
Zhang said, "While inheriting traditional culture, we must also incorporate innovative methods."
Statistics from Douyin showed that from December 2022 to December 2023, about 5,000 village-gala-themed livestreaming shows were broadcast on the platform, with views totaling 22.97 million.
The country's No 1 Central Document for this year, which outlines the priorities for comprehensively promoting rural vitalization, calls for the prosperity and development of rural culture and strengthening the protection, inheritance and innovative development of fine traditional culture in rural areas.
In many of China's rural areas, the galas have become a common occurrence in recent years. Such performances have become platforms for villages nationwide to promote their unique features and display the fruits of their development.
For China's vast rural areas, the galas are more than just a stage.
Ke Wenping, Party secretary of Kecun village in Anhui province, knows firsthand how the events have become a powerful force in boosting rural development.
During a single livestream show, the small village with around 1,200 residents generated about 30,000 yuan ($4,168) in revenue by selling local agriculture products.
"We have also sold 330,000 yuan worth of other goods by livestreaming," Ke said.