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Tsinghua BMW Innovation Center for Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage Is Established

Industry-University Initiative Exploring New Model for ICH Safeguarding

● As the first industry-university initiative for intangible culture heritage (ICH) safeguarding in China, the Innovation Center will explore new model for ICH safeguarding.
● As an innovative extension of the China ICH Inheritors Training Program led by the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Education, the Innovation Center is aimed to facilitate the implementation of China’s nationwide cultural development strategy and revitalize traditional Chinese craftsmanship.
● BMW China Culture Journey launches innovative initiatives on its tenth year: from cash donation to resources support.

(Beijing, China) 30th June, 2016, the opening ceremony of the Tsinghua BMW Innovation Center for ICH Safeguarding (the Innovation Center) was held in the Art Gallery of Tsinghua University’s Academy of Arts and Design, moderated by Prof. Su Dan, Deputy Dean of the Academy. During the ceremony, Prof. Lu Xiaobo, Dean of the Academy, and Mr. Jochen Goller, Senior Vice President of BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd., together unveiled the plaque of the Innovation Center. Building on the experience of both organizations in public welfare efforts, the Innovation Center is a non-profit institute jointly initiated by Tsinghua University’s Academy of Arts and Design and BMW, with the goal of safeguarding, studying, and promoting ICH in China. It will serve ICH inheritors by exploring innovative ways and models of ICH inheritance, safeguarding, and development, which is expected to support the revitalization of traditional art and craftsmanship.

Together with Mr. Ma Shengde, Inspector of ICH Department of Ministry of Culture, and Ms. Qian Rong, Director of ICH Department of Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture, almost 200 participants witnessed this historic moment, including professors and experts of the Tsinghua Academy of Arts and Design, ICH inheritors, BMW car owners, designers, and media representatives. About 30 ICH inheritors from around China presented their innovative traditional handicraft works. At the ceremony, Mr. Wu Yuanxin and her daughter Ms. Wu Lingshu, inheritors of the Blue Calico dyeing craftsmanship from Nantong, Jiangsu Province, and Mr. Zeng Li, a BMW car owner who has been volunteering to provide design and resources support to the hand-made wood steelyard craftsmanship inheritor Yang Weibin from Shaanxi Province, shared their stories of ICH inheritance and creative design and development. He Man, a national-class ICH inheritor of silverware and bronzeware making and gilding craftsmanship from Qinghai Province, presented a gift, a forged copper piece named Dragon Boat, to the innovation center. The image of the Dragon Boat was inspired by the cover of the Decoration magazine’s opening issue designed by Mr. Zhang Ding in 1958, symbolizing that the arts and crafts are expected to serve for people’s everyday life.

Mr. Ma Shengde, Inspector of the ICH Department of the Ministry of Culture, said: “Tsinghua University’s Academy of Arts and Design has played a leading role in the China ICH Inheritors Training Program. We expect that this innovative partnership between the Academy and BMW on ICH safeguarding will not only provide an instructive supplement to the Training Program, but also set up a replicable model for other institutes and companies. We look forward to seeing more corporate citizens joining the cause of ICH safeguarding.”

Prof. Lu Xiaobo, Dean of Tsinghua University’s Academy of Arts and Design, said: “Tsinghua University’s Academy of Arts and Design is committed to promoting Chinese culture and bringing positive influence on people’s lives. We have best-in-class experts and laboratory equipment for the research and design of traditional crafts, and we will work with BMW to explore the possibility of integrating traditional craftsmanship into modern life.”

During the ceremony, Mr. Jochen Goller, Senior Vice President of BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd. and honorary advisor to the Innovation Center, announced BMW China Culture Journey’s innovative initiatives for the future. He said: “In 2016, we celebrate the centenary of BMW Group, and BMW China Culture Journey also celebrates its tenth year. The success of the BMW brand over the last century is built on forward thinking and responsibility. Guided by this vision and innovative thinking, we will replace cash donation with resources support. BMW and Tsinghua University’s Academy of Arts and Design will work together and leverage both parties’ brand power and resources to support ICH safeguarding in China.”

Since 2007, BMW China Culture Journey has supported 90 ICH items in urgent need of safeguarding in China with cash donation totaling over 16 million RMB. In the new era, BMW will introduce innovative initiatives guided by the principle of “teaching people how to fish instead of giving them a fish”, with a transition from the funding support to resource support. This will allow ICH inheritors to access resources and channels for “ICH revitalization” and to acquire the capability of “self-blood generation”, which facilitates the integration of ICH into modern life. Two public platforms for ICH safeguarding will be set up: (1) the platform of discovery, which is aimed to upgrade the classic BMW China Culture Journey into a journey of discovery for ICH craftsmanship with revitalization potential; (2) the platform of revitalization, which will build on the Innovation Center to carry out activities such as professional support and product incubation for ICH inheritors and their craftsmanship, and explore innovative models of ICH revitalization and safeguarding.

Since its establishment in 1956, the Tsinghua Academy of Arts and Design (formerly known as the Central Academy of Arts and Crafts) has been committed to the research and creative development of traditional arts and crafts, and it has been a leading institution in this regard both home and abroad. The Academy set up the SEVEN ICH Research Fund of the Academy ten years ago, which has received wide attention in the academic community, attracted scholars from around the country and produced many encouraging research achievements. The Academy’s support for the China ICH Inheritors Training Program led by Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Education since 2015 has been highly recognized by government leaders. The Academy has also organized a series of academic events “ICH at Tsinghua” under the theme of the “rejuvenation of traditional culture”, which attracted wide public attention. The Innovation Center launched today will help implement the Training Program, and promote the revitalization of traditional craftsmanship. It will also support the discipline construction and talent development of the Academy, and serve for the culture and education strategies to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

Chen Anying, Dean of the Art History Department of Tsinghua University’s Academy of Arts and Design, has been appointed the first Director of the Innovation Center. Chen said, “It is fundamental that ICH should be inherited while alive. How to instill new life into traditional craftsmanship and revitalize the ICH items scattered around China is a challenging task, but of epoch-making significance. The Innovation Center will work with ICH inheritors and people from various professions to explore new methods and models of integrating traditional craftsmanship into modern life.”

The first activity under the Innovation Center will be the ICH Creative Design Workshop. It will invite nearly 30 ICH inheritors to interact and exchange views with the BMW Lifestyle team and experts from Tsinghua University’s Academy of Arts and Design. They will design and develop conceptual works based on ICH craftsmanship, features, or elements. The most outstanding works will be awarded upon evaluation by a judging panel. As part of BMW’s CSR efforts, this activity is aimed to enhance ICH inheritors’ creative design capabilities and showcase the possibility of integrating traditional craftsmanship into modern life.

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