By Lai Rui
The 77 Culture and Creative Park, located at the No. 77 Art Gallery in an alley in the Dongcheng district of the Chinese capital, is a well-known destination with a modern taste.
Compared to other cultural parks in Beijing that feature high-rises and fancy facilities, 77 Cultural and Creative Park quite retains the common touch.
Surrounded by low brick walls, the park is home to a number of nostalgic residential buildings that bear the local characteristics of Beijing. At the entrance to an alley next to the park, children’s laughter is still heard. Elderly people sit on stone stools by the walls to sunbathe, and bicycles are still seen passing through the crowds.
77 Cultural and Creative Park was transformed from a 1950s offset printing factory. Many industrial remnants of the factory have survived, including the red brick office buildings, tall chimneys and hot stamping machines. These relics are a link between the past and the present, and make the park a natural part of the lively atmosphere that surrounds it.
“The park has class. It’s beautiful,” said a citizen named Du living near the park. As a photography enthusiast, he always took pictures at the park on weekends. “I think it’s better than the famous 798 Art Zone, because it’s smaller, so I can reach almost every corner of it,” Du added.
The theater has always been a theme of the park, which has been renovated since 2012 and commissioned in May 2014. The machinery maintenance workshop that became Theater 77 is a major landmark in the park. Built on the basis of the original structure of the workshop, the theater is modern and operational.
To allow visitors to enjoy art in a more comfortable environment, 77 Cultural and Creative Park indirectly subsidizes the theater industry by lowering rents. In the park, there are 18 rehearsal rooms for rent, and the rental is quite cheap. This attracted a large number of cast and crew. Lower production costs also allow audiences to enjoy fiction at a fairer price.
Currently, more than 200 original dramas are rehearsed in the park on average each year, and the park is also home to a number of theater, filming, and design companies.
77 Cultural and Creative Park is the embodiment of culture-driven urban transition in Beijing. More and more old factories are now getting a makeover in the capital.
Dongcheng District has turned a number of old factories into cultural parks. So far, the district has 42 cultural parks which cover a total area of 730,000 square meters and house more than 5,000 enterprises. Last year, these cultural parks registered a total turnover of 143.6 billion yuan, becoming a successful example of the functional transition of old factories.
Culture is important in the renewal of cities. “It is through the orientation of culture that cities can better inherit their material heritage, space and memories, and transform them into new industries and scenarios that meet modern demands,” Song Yang said. Yang, deputy director of the Creative Industries Institute of Technology. at Renmin University of China.
As the cultural center of China, Beijing enjoys a deep cultural background and rich cultural resources. She sees natural advantages in developing the cultural industry.
Under the guidance of relevant measures deployed by the Beijing municipal government, a number of cultural parks with distinctive characteristics are springing up in the city, contributing to urban renewal. They have become an innovative ground for culture-science integration, a cluster of leading cultural enterprises, and popular destinations for citizens.
Cultural parks not only revitalize the city, but also create a wider space and more opportunities for the people who live there.