New regs allow investments in agencies, companies

BEIJING — China plans to open its legit sector to international investment under new regulations allowing foreigners to invest in agencies and management of theaters and theater companies.

Meng Xiaosi, vice minister of culture, says the performing arts industry in China was still at an early stage of development in international terms, and he hoped that a lifting of the ban on foreign coin in the industry would give the sector a boost.

“China’s performing arts industry has seen a boom over the past few years as it has changed from wholly closed to opening up,” Meng told the official Xinhua news agency. However, the new laws stipulate that domestic interests must retain a controlling 51% stake — the traditional restriction on many forms of foreign investment in the entertainment business in China. Also, foreigners are still banned from establishing performing troupes.

“China’s performance arts industry is now stepping into the international market wet behind the ears,” Meng says. “Therefore, we are opening it to foreign investment, but only to a certain extent.”

The legit sector in China covers a wide variety of theatrical styles, from the much-loved traditional Beijing opera to Western-influenced dramas. There is also a vibrant experimental scene fusing traditional and contemporary styles in the big cities.

Big-name Western musicals are also seeing profits in Shanghai and Beijing. The new rules will allow self-employed actors the right to host commercial performances independently, and allow theater owners to stage commercial performances independently.

“The new regulation will enhance the benign development of the performing arts industry, controlling the normal high ticket prices caused by the monopoly before,” Meng says.

The legislation is due to be implemented in September and includes revisions to rules last changed eight years ago.

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