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Spotlights review in 2008

January 3, 2009
2008 has been an eventful year. But this is just the beginning. Next, we introduce "Spotlight". The preservation of Tibet's culture has always been one of the priorities of the central government. And from the roof of the world, we'll move to contemporary Chinese art and take a look at how the global financial crisis has dampened the red-hot Chinese contemporary art market.
In their long history, the Tibetans created a substantial, distinctive and diverse culture. Tibetan culture encompasses indigenous languages, philosophy, religion, medicine, astronomy music and dance, drama, architecture, sculpture, painting and crafts.
In September of 2008, the teaching, development and official status of Tibetan languages came under the protection of Law.
Equal importance is given both to Tibetan and Chinese in Tibet. Under current regulations, priority is given to the Tibetan language. Eighty percent of the population is made up of ethnic farmers and herders who communicate mostly in Tibetan. Custom-made broadcasting and technology was developed rapidly to help in preserving the languages.
Tibetan historical sites and cultural relics have also been brought under effective state protection.
In 2008, the central government made the third systematic survey of cultural relics in Tibet. There was also a detailed survey of the relics scattered along the Tibetan section of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway Line.
As a result, the overall distribution, quantity and status of various kinds of cultural relics and sites has been identified. This enabled focused efforts aimed at preserving endangered historical sites and relics. Many are being excavated, restored and repaired.
A white paper on Protection and Development of Tibetan Culture was issued by the Information Office of the State Council in September. The council says that between 2006 and 2010, the central government will allocate 570 million yuan for the repair and protection of 22 key cultural relics sites in Tibet.
Despite the government efforts it's been a year of turbulence throughout the fine arts community in China. The nation's contemporary art market, which seemed unstoppable in the first half of 2008 is feeling the effects of the global financial crisis.
Auction houses, galleries and artists are seeing a downturn in sales as potential buyers see shrinkage in their disposable income.
In Hong Kong -- half the items on auction at Christie's evening sales of Asian contemporary and Chinese 20th century art went unsold in December.
A few days later came the autumn evening sale of modern and contemporary Chinese art at the major Beijing auction house Poly International. Only six of the 42 lots exceeded their reserve prices. Nine fell short of expectations. Many items were withdrawn from the auction before the sale began.
The absence of highly competitive bidding reflects the bleak global economic outlook, cooling the Chinese art market.
The Chinese art website showed a 14 percent fall in its Chinese contemporary art index this autumn compared to the spring index. The benchmark index of 400 top Chinese artists showed a 28 percent decline in prices for the same period.
Alessandra Henderson, "Chinese Contemporary" Gallery, said, "I think a lot of artists recognize that there are going to be tough times ahead. But the basic sentiment is this financial crisis will wash out all of the bad that might have accumulated in Chinese contemporary art. It will, you know, wash out those speculators and wash out the people who really were only in it for the money so what you'll have left will be this solid core of people who still love the art and who are still interested in promoting it."
Some experts say the less established reputations of Asian artists versus timeworn western masters make major record-breaking results unlikely at the current time. However much cheaper valuations make many artists attractive to buyers seeking long term returns.
Editor:Yang Jie
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