Mainland China's cultural sector has seen unprecedented growth in the past decade. This has included the construction of hundreds of new theatres and arts centres that offer artists and audiences new opportunities. The development of the human resources to match the new infrastructure is now a priority and the emerging arts producers in China, beyond the Eastern seaboard region, have few opportunities for professional development or international exchange.  

To address this issue and to assist in developing the UK's opportunities for new exchanges with China, an existing partnership between ResCen Research Centre, Middlesex University and the Beijing Dance Academy, has been extended to include arts sector partners, China's Poly Theatre Group and the UK's Chinese Arts Now funded by Arts Council England. 

The proposal will create four pilot project presentations by leading and emerging UK producers, Emma Gladstone, Dance Umbrella; Farooq Chaudhry, Akram Khan Company; An-Ting Chang, Chinese Arts Now; and Joanna Dong, Performance Infinity. These will be presented at online Producer Forums hosted by the Poly Theatre Group in Beijing, Shenzhen, Chengdu and Kunming and then made available online in the UK and China as part of a resource pack called The Producers Toolbox: The Way/Dào of the Producer.  

Presentations will also be accessible to a wider audience online throughout mainland China and in Hong Kong and Taiwan as well as in the UK. Each Forum will be moderated by Beijing Dance Academy Vice-President, Professor Xu and ResCen Research Centre Director, Professor Christopher Bannerman.  

The UK presenters selected for this pilot project work in different ways, but are all experienced in international collaborations, and their material will be carefully tailored for the Chinese arts sector context. Additionally, all presenters are widely acknowledged to be established or emerging leaders in their fields who are prepared to engage in lively dialogue and exchange, and to participate in any future collaborative projects. 

The project is designed to build the capacity of the UK and mainland China arts professionals who can develop new international collaborative projects and to share information on how to make best use of the available opportunities. The presentations address the new Covid-19 realities and include the discussion of digital performance as well as looking ahead to a time when live performance with an audience will again be possible.  

The pilot project also assesses the use of the online mode for exchange and network events with Chinese colleagues when it is not possible to engage in the traditionally important personal interactions of sharing meals and exchanging business cards. Further planned developments include the creation of presentations by Chinese producers which will feature at online China-UK Forums and then added to The Producers Toolbox.