China sees increase in music festivals

Oct. 24, 2010 at 8:47 AM

ZHENJIANG, China, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- The increase in multi-day music festivals in China is due in part to the country's quest for a "harmonious society," a concert promoter said.

In 2008, there were five multi-day music festivals in China, but this year there have already been more than 60, The New York Times reported.

"The government used to see rock fans as something akin to a devastating flood or an invasion of savage beasts," said Zhang Fan, organizer of the Midi Music Festival in Zhenjiang. "Now we're all part of the nation's quest for a harmonious society."

Zhenjiang's local Communist party spent more than $2 million to turn two cornfields into festival grounds for the Midi festival, which is China's oldest such event and attracts 80,000 fans. In addition to a "harmonious society," officials are also looking to make a buck, the report said.

"All these local ministries want their cities to be thought of as fun, young and hip so they can draw more tourists and claim a public relations trophy," said Scarlett Li, a music promoter whose company, Zebra Media, stages festivals, including one in Chengdu that draws more than 150,000 to a park custom-built by the government.

The government no longer looks at festivals as dangerous events, a member of the group called P.K. 14 said.

"The government used to see us as dangerous," said musician Yang Haisong. "Now they see us as a market."

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