Center Issues New Policy Statement:  Summer of 1989

In response to events in China on June 4, 1989, and following, and as a result of a one-year evaluation of the Center’s policies for future programming, we issued a nine-page statement that combined reaction to recent events with a look at the longer term prospects for exchange. The following article, published Dec. 8, 1989, in the Columbia University Record, is based on the Center’s statement, entitled “Current Policies and New Directions: Summer and Fall 1989.”

Arts Exchange Postpones Some China Programs

In response to the government’s recent crackdown on the popular movement in the People’s Republic of China, Columbia’s Center for United States-China Arts Exchange has postponed all exchanges of specialists and arts professionals with China that were scheduled for this summer and fall. Since 1978 the Center has designed and carried out exchanges of materials and specialists in music, visual arts, drama, literature, dance, architecture and arts education.

“We have postponed all Center exchanges with China until we discern signs of a return to an open policy in culture and education,” said the Center’s statement on current policies and new directions. “We are not making any dramatic break with our past counterparts, but will review each upcoming project on a case-by-case basis. We are prepared to carry out programs with private or people’s organizations in China. We will be careful to avoid carrying out projects that might be construed as an endorsement of policies that have been in place since early June.”

Postponed programs include travel to China by the Horace Mann School Glee Club in June 1989 and the O’Neill Teachers Exchange of U.S. and Chinese visual arts and music teachers, originally scheduled for May, October and November of 1989.

The statement, issued in August, noted several factors considered in postponing programs; safety of exchange participants, both American and Chinese; how Chinese participants might be chosen; current hostility to foreigners in China; the difficulty of carrying out programs that depend on openness in the current closed environment, and sympathy for those who lost their lives. “We feel it would be impossible to continue as if it were business as usual,” it said.

The Center also has postponed plans for advanced arts institutes in China for returning exchange participants, “because such programs would require an enlightened view on the part of the Chinese government agencies,” said Chou Wen-chung, director of the Center and Fritz Reiner Professor of Musical Composition at Columbia.

The statement noted that the PRC government has reduced citizens’ access to higher education and has dismissed personnel in the Ministry of Culture in a campaign against “spiritual pollution” and “bourgeois liberalization.” In addition, violence by the People’s Army against the prodemocracy demonstrators in Beijing has forced student leaders into exile and has damaged American artists’ perceptions of China, dampening eagerness to participate in exchanges.

As a result of the situation since June, and in accordance with a twelve-month review of policy that was coincidentally under way, the Center will investigate several new directions: extending cultural exchanges to Asian locations outside the Mainland, such as Korea, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia and the Philippines; translating seminal works in the arts not previously available in Chinese; holding conferences on timely topics, such as the tension between tradition and modernization in Chinese arts; creating media programming for China, such as packaged music programs for Chinese listeners, and establishing, through a consortium of American colleges and China-related organizations, internships for East Asian studies or international relations students interested in international or intercultural affairs.

“In light of ten years of work with China’s intellectuals and artists, and the ordeal of recent months, we are even more resolved to carry out our work,” the statement said. “We are convinced that only through culture and education can we expect a growth in the respect for human rights and an open political atmosphere. Although the current situation is particularly ugly, and we have no willingness to support the leadership in power, nevertheless we believe there is all the more a pressing need for programs that enrich and support the artists and intellectuals in China. We feel it is wrong to deprive them of contact with the West and of the opportunities to learn about the West directly. To accomplish this in today’s climate will require innovative policies that address fundamental issues in Chinese culture.”

Fact-finding Delegation Travels to Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu

In late 1986 student demonstrations that had broken out in Hefei, Shanghai, and elsewhere were quickly quelled. The Western press was painting a dire picture of the climate in China, indicating that the openness previously evident was dissolving. The Center, however, was receiving contrary signals—that openness in intellectual circles had only been temporarily short-circuited—and in fact the arts were once again functioning freely by the spring of 1987. To celebrate the kickoff of the Center’s capital campaign, we planned an event at the Chinese Mission to the United Nations and invited China to send a representative who could speak to these issues in May of 1987. The Ministry of Culture was unable to send anyone at that time, but presented us with a counter offer: we were invited to send a delegation of six or seven people who could “see for themselves” what the situation was like.

Sculptor George Rickey talking with Yin Qi, an artist at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing
Sculptor George Rickey talking with Yin Qi, an artist at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing

In November of 1987, therefore, Center director Professor Chou Wen-chung led a delegation of distinguished leaders in arts and letters on a two-week trip designed to gauge the climate for the arts and for arts exchange in China. The delegation’s visit was timed to follow immediately upon the completion of the Thirteenth Party Congress. At the invitation of the Ministry of Culture’s affiliated agency, the China External Cultural Exchange Organization, the group traveled to Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu.

Delegation members were chosen for their diversity and also for their ability to communicate their findings upon returning to the United States. The delegation members were George Rickey, sculptor and innovator of “kinetic,” or moving, sculpture; Seymour Topping, director of editorial development for The New York Times Company; Andre Schiffrin, then managing director of Pantheon Books; John Simon, film critic for the National Review and drama critic for New York magazine; Theodore Solotaroff, senior editor at Harper & Row; and Chou Wen-chung, composer and the Center’s founder and director since 1978. Accompanying the delegation, and acting as its official photographer, was Audrey Topping, a photo-journalist who was born in China. Also on the trip was the Center’s then-deputy director, Andrew J. Andreasen. Andreasen served as both interpreter and administrator for the group.

Crucial to the success of the delegation’s visit was the Center’s stipulation that at least 50 percent of the time be set aside for meetings arranged through our own network of contacts, separate from the Ministry of Culture’s involvement. Unofficial “salon” groups were set up through which the delegation met with over 175 individual artists in all disciplines. Discussions in these meetings were free-ranging and open. Exchanges among the Chinese themselves were lively and remarkably candid.

There was a discernible feeling of ferment among these artists that belied claims in the Western press that freedoms were being abridged and that openness had disappeared. Chou Wen-chung did not feel wholly optimistic about what he saw, however. “In spite of remarkable progress, there is still much work to be done to modernize the Chinese mind,” Professor Chou observed. “There are still holdovers from the past that stand in the way of a completely modern approach to the arts.” Some of these obstacles are historical; others are of more recent vintage. Those inherited from the traditional past are bureaucratism, feudalism, and the residual deep-seated “closed-door” mentality of the Qing dynasty. Those transmitted from the more recent past include a socialist dedication to the Yenan tradition of the Long March; a vision of the future based on the May 4th Movement; and even a fixation on ” new wave” art—art based almost exclusively on Western traditions and imported from abroad.

Then-Vice Minister of Culture Ying Ruocheng and Seymour Topping at the Ministry of Culture, Beijing
Then-Vice Minister of Culture Ying Ruocheng and Seymour Topping at the Ministry of Culture, Beijing

The one presumption on which there seemed to be almost universal agreement was that wide-spread repression of the sort experienced during the Cultural Revolution was a thing of the past and could not happen again. There seemed to be much evidence—now, unfortunately proven inaccurate—for this optimistic belief.

Chou Wen-chung’s assessment of the situation in 1987 was that the path to a more sweeping modernization of the mind, which would be necessary for the flourishing of a truly modern Chinese society, could be achieved only through education. Most importantly, the educational emphasis would have to shift from science and technology—areas that had been stressed during the Four Modernizations Campaign—to humanities and culture. It is in this educational process that the arts and arts exchanges must play an integral role.

To Our Readers

As have all U.S.-China exchange organizations, the Center has undergone a year marked by careful deliberations, difficult decisions, and innovative planning to respond to new circumstances. The tragic events of June 1989 that first threatened the safety of exchange artists, and later threatened the intellectual and/or artistic integrity of all projected programs, resulted in the Center’s postponement or cancellation of all planned exchanges for fiscal year 1989-90. We will nevertheless have much of interest to report in our next Newsletter about the activities the Center undertook during the fiscal year 1989-90—particularly the very first Pacific Music Festival.

With this issue of the Center Newsletter, however, we will catch our readers up, reporting on all projects carried out between June 1987 and the spring of 1989. In spite of temporary setbacks following the antibourgeois liberalization campaign in the winter of 1986, this was one of the periods of greatest ferment, excitement, and freedom in the arts in China in recent decades. The projects described in this issue were carried out in an atmosphere of ever increasing optimism that China was entering a modern era in cultural expression. They may be viewed as the starting point from which we will be ready to resume normal activities, whenever conditions are again favorable.

In the interim, the Center feels a responsibility to inform the Chinese public about American society and to inform the U.S. public about Chinese culture. The need for this kind of educational effort is, if anything, even greater than before. To this end, the Center has initiated a new policy, actually already under consideration before the events of Tiananmen, of devising programs that support the efforts of Chinese artists and intellectuals to modernize their own culture. The implementation of this policy will take us in both new programmatic directions and new geographic directions.

Since early 1988, we have been exploring the possibility of developing publication projects. The Center sponsored two conferences in the summer of 1988—one on arts education, the other on “The Tradition and Future of Chinese Music.” The proceedings of both conferences were taped, and we are planning to publish the transcriptions—in a Chinese/ English bilingual format—and disseminate these conference reports widely to Chinese-speaking artists and intellectuals in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the United States, as well as on the Mainland. We also plan to translate several slim volumes that emphasize a conceptual approach to modern Western art for dissemination to the same audience.

To complement our translation project, we plan to hold several series of mini-conferences and roundtable discussions on selected topics in the arts. The proceedings of these conferences will also be taped, transcribed, translated, and disseminated. These projects, in keeping with the Center’s 1988 policy, will fulfill a tremendous need for information on contemporary Western art.

As for geographic expansion — since 1983 the Center has undertaken research trips to explore the possibility of enlarging Center exchanges to include the Greater Pacific region. Visits to Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, and Korea have been made, over the years, to pursue contacts in these regions and to discuss three-way or even four-way exchanges. (Center exchange artists, it was planned, would visit a third or fourth region on their way to or from China or the United States.)

The Center was therefore well positioned to take part in the design and planning of a music festival for June 1990 that drew its participants from the entire Pacific region. This festival, originally scheduled to take place in China, was instead held in Sapporo, Japan, as a result of the June 1989 events in the PRC.

The Center played a major role in the conceptualization, design, organization, and administration of the Pacific Music Festival 1990. We had primary responsibility for the recruitment of a 123-member youth orchestra—with participants drawn from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Costa Rica, and the West Coast of the U.S and Canada, among others. The PMF featured the participation of the London Symphony Orchestra; conductors Leonard Bernstein, Michael Tilson Thomas, Marin Alsop, Leif Bjaland, and Yutaka Sado; soloists including Midori, Shinobu Sato, and Thomas Hampson; and traditional music groups from Korea, Japan, China, Indonesia, and New Zealand. The Center’s pivotal role in planning brought a strong sensitivity for Asian cultural perspectives to the festival, which ran from June 26 through July 16.

The Center also had sole responsibility for the design and organization of the Pacific Composers Conference —a ten-day, 49-person conference that brought together young, talented composers with more experienced composers who have already had considerable international exposure. This conference, which ran from June 30 through July 10, was led by Chou Wen-chung, and featured Jose Maceda, Isang Yun, Eugene Lee, Peter Sculthorpe, Chinary Ung, and Joji Yuasa; promising composers, such as Francisco Feliciano, Toshio Hosokawa, and Qu Xiaosong; and younger composers with less international experience and especially less exposure to Western music. The format of the conference included discussion sessions, at which all the participants addressed issues on music in the Pacific region—its tradition, its current practice, and its future; composers talks, which allowed the composers-in-residence and guest composers to lead sessions on their own music; and music listening sessions, for a broader exposure to the music of all the participants. In addition there were three contemporary music concerts, with programs drawn exclusively from the works of the participants—at all levels of accomplishment and renown.

In Chou Wen-chung’s words: “Keeping alive the traditions of the area, while nurturing the creativity of its young musicians allows us to look simultaneously to the past and to the future.” Of course our looking to the future includes our hope that conditions in China will soon allow for the resumption of the dramatic modernization of culture that had been under way before the clampdown of just one year ago. The Center looks forward to renewing China exchanges with commitment and vigor.

Conference on “Tradition and the Future of Chinese Music”

A conference of Chinese composers from both Taiwan and the Mainland was held at Columbia University from August 8 through August 12, 1988. These meetings, designed to end an almost forty-year estrangement, were seen as part of a broader project to increase communication in the arts across the Taiwan Strait.

Ten composers from the PRC joined together with ten composers from Taiwan to discuss issues of mutual interest and concern to creative artists with a shared heritage. During the week of meetings the twenty composers introduced and explained their own work and also engaged in enthusiastic discussions of such topics as the relationship between East and West in musical creation, tradition and innovation, technique and content, national traits and characteristics of various eras, and styles and modes of expression.

The impetus for the conference had come originally from meetings in Korea of the Asian Composers League, held as early as 1979, at which Chou Wen-chung was the principal speaker. Later requests that the Center organize such a conference came repeatedly from both the Taiwan and the PRC music communities.

Consulting on the project from the Mainland side was Wu Zuqiang, then- Secretary General of the China Federation of Literary and Arts Circles and President of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. Also supportive of the conference and involved in all stages of planning was Ying Ruocheng; then one of China’s most influential vice ministers of culture, known to American audiences as the actor who played a victim of the Cultural Revolution in the Last Emperor of China, and to Chinese audiences as Willy Loman in the Beijing production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. The consultants on the Taiwan side of the project were Hsu Tsanghoei, Chairman of the Chinese Composers’ League in Taiwan; Ma Shuilong, Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of Composition at the National Institute of the Arts in Taipei, and Hsu Po-yun, President of the New Aspects Art Center in Taipei.

In addition to the four consultants, all of whom are composers in their own right, participants included: Shen Ching-tan, Wen Loong-hsing, Pan Hwang-long, Tzeng Shing-kwei, Ch’ien Nan-chang, Lu Yen, and Lee T’ai-hsiang from Taiwan; and Luo Zhongrong, Tian Feng, Ding Shande, Wang Lisan, Qu Xiaosong, Zhao Xiaosheng, He Xuntian, Chen Yi, and Tan Dun f rom the Mainland. Chou Wen-chung served as moderator for the meetings.

The week of meetings, interspersed with attendance at concerts and other related cultural activities in New York City, resulted in a resolution issued by the twenty participating composers. At an August 12 press conference, the group proposed: (1) to exchange musical works and reference materials by several methods, (2) to introduce and perform the musical compositions of their colleagues across the Taiwan Strait, and (3) to publish and broadcast the works and compositions of their colleagues across the Taiwan Strait and to work to protect the artistic rights of composers.

These measures were adopted to augment the original three-step project, which would have followed the conference with a visit by a group of prominent artists from Taiwan to the Mainland in the spring of 1989, and later performance tours of Mainland arts troupes on Taiwan. Unfortunately, as with other China exchanges, these plans have been on hold since the events of the spring and summer of 1989. □

Conference on Arts Education Completes Three-year Exchange

Arts education specialists from China and the United States met from July 7 to July 10, 1988, to sum up the results of a three-year exchange, compare ideas on how the arts should be taught, and plan for future work in the field. The conference, which was convened by the Center and funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, was held at the Tarrytown House Executive Conference Center, outside New York City.

Seven of the nine Chinese participants had visited the United States during the 1984-87 exchange of two delegations and six research teams; some had spent as long as three months observing American schools. All the Americans who had participated in the long-term exchange were present, as were four experts invited to add historical context and new perspectives on the subject.

Participants in Arts Education Conference, Tarrytown House Executive Conference Center, New York
Participants in Arts Education Conference, Tarrytown House Executive Conference Center, New York

The Chinese delegation, which was in New York for ten days of professional and cultural activities, was led by Professor Wu Zuqiang, formerly president of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and subsequently appointed as Party Secretary of the China Federation of Literary and Arts Circles—the umbrella organization for professional arts associations in China. Co-chairs of the American delegation to the conference were Center director Professor Chou Wen-chung and Dr. Howard Gardner, co-director of Harvard Project Zero.

Topics explored in the four days of meetings included the balance between skills acquisition and creativity; the advantages of, and drawbacks to, cross-cultural borrowing of teaching methodologies; the role of the arts in developing personal morality; the frustrations of pervasive shortages of money, resources, and personnel; and the lack of a national mandate on arts education in both countries. 

The collegiality and professional respect that had developed between these two groups of educators—some of whom had been involved in earlier Center projects on arts education that dated back to 1980—were remarked upon by both delegations. There was a universal feeling that repeated time spent in one another’s countries was the single most influential factor in the development of a clear understanding of the local situation and an appreciation for the cultural and structural climate in which local traditions have grown. The more that understanding and appreciation are nurtured on both sides, the less each side will make hasty judgments and pronouncements about what the other side “should” or “should not” be doing in arts teaching.

Four specialists were invited to address the Chinese and U.S. delegations. Warren Newman, director of the Arts in Education Program at the National Endowment for the Arts, and Steven M. Dobbs, senior program officer at the J. Paul Getty Trust Center for Education in the Arts, gave presentations on the ways in which both the public sector and the private sector support and direct arts education work in the United States. C. T. Hu, Professor of Education, with a specialty in the Chinese educational system, and Cheng Pei-kai, professor of Chinese Studies at Pace University, provided historical context on traditional methods and philosophies of arts education in China and insights into the infrastructure of the Chinese educational system.

Areas identified for future exchange work include curriculum development, particularly for early childhood education; teacher training; and the preparation of new teaching materials. Panel papers prepared prior to the meetings are being readied for publication in China and revised versions of these papers have been published by the Journal of Aesthetic Education (Spring, 1989).

O’Neill Teachers Exchange

In April 1988, the first of three teams of elementary school teachers came to the United States to participate in the O’Neill Teachers Exchange. This exchange, developed under a grant from Mr. and Mrs. George D. O’Neill, was designed to extend the Center’s arts education work beyond research and theory to include practitioners. The goal of the exchange is to provide teachers from each country with an opportunity to observe and participate in each other’s classes and then to return home and become “master teachers.”

Mr. Chen Shoushan and Mr. Huang Weilian came to the United States from Xiamen, in the southeastern part of China. Mr. Chen is a voice teacher from the Kaiyuan Children’s Palace in Xiamen and Mr. Huang teaches violin at the Renmin Elementary School there. This was their first trip out of the country. As they do not speak English, they were accompanied at all times by an interpreter from the Center, Ms. Wang Yixun. For the first week of the exchange they were in New York City, observing a variety of public and private elementary school programs. During the second week, they commuted to the Lawrence, Long Island, Public School System where they visited different schools and classrooms each day under the supervision of Dr. Bert Konowitz, chairman of the District Music Department.

At the start of the third week, they traveled to the West Hartford Public School System in Connecticut and were paired with two music teachers who were their hosts for the visit. The local program was arranged by Ms. Van Ftergiotis, coordinator of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts for the West Hartford Public School System.

The visit was very successful in that these educators were open and energetic during their visits and, even though everything that was said went through translation, they seemed to comprehend well and to feel comfortable in the American classroom environment.

In October of 1988, a reciprocal team of American music teachers left for a three-week stay in China. James Groff and Jerry Jaccard, elementary school teachers f rom the West Hartford Public School System, spent two weeks in Xiamen, Fujian Province, and one week in Beijing. Mr. Groff is a violin teacher at the Duffy School in West Hartford, and Mr. Jaccard is a voice instructor at the Bugbee School. As these teachers had worked with the Chinese team during their stay in Connecticut, the groundwork for a more personal relationship had already been laid by the time of their arrival in Xiamen; consequently, the team was able to get off to a quick start on the exchange of ideas with their counterparts. Their host in Xiamen was the Xiamen Educational Association.

The team visited singing, movement, dance, ear training, orchestra, and other classes at the elementary schools in Xiamen. They were greatly impressed by the warmth and enthusiasm with which they were greeted— both by their hosts and by the schools they visited. For the last week, they traveled to Beijing as guests of the State Education Commission and visited tourist sites—such as the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven—as well as primary schools.

Since their return home, the team has done extensive work on integrating what they learned into their class curricula. They have also offered suggestions to their Chinese counterparts.

Spring 1989 marked the beginning of the second phase of the O’Neill Teachers Exchange. At that time, the Center welcomed Mr. Mu Yungang and Mr. Shuai Qi, visual arts teachers from Jilin Province and Tianjin, respectively. Mr. Mu is a visual arts teacher at the Jilin Provincial Teacher Training Institute and Mr. Shuai is a visual arts teacher at the Hexi District Children’s Palace in Tianjin.

The American host cities for this phase of the exchange were Cincinnati, Ohio, and Washington, D.C. In addition, because of a flight scheduling problem, the team spent several days in New York, as guests of the Center, at the end of their stay.

In Cincinnati, their host was Dr. Barbara Carlisle, a former participant in the Arts Education Project sponsored by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. She arranged visits throughout the Cincinnati Public School System and also at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Following their two week stay in Ohio, the team traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in activities coordinated by the Education Department/Alliance for Arts Education of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. They visited arts classes at the Smithsonian, the Fillmore Arts Center, and Sidwell Friends Lower School, among other places. They were also taken to a number of artists’ studios and museums and saw at least two theatrical performances at the Kennedy Center. During their final days in New York, the team was escorted by Center staff to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Statue of Liberty.

The three teams, which make up half of the planned exchanges for this project, have returned home with positive images of their host countries. The hope is that this project will lead to practical changes and innovations for all the school systems that participate in both countries.

The final three parts of the exchange have been postponed because it is our evaluation that the current environment in China is not conducive to an open exchange of ideas. The details and contacts for the exchange are all in place and, when the situation improves, the Center is ready to proceed.

Qu Xiaosong

In February 1989, Chinese composer Qu Xiaosong arrived in New York for a six-month stay in the United States to observe and study contemporary American music. His exchange visit was funded by a grant from the Asian Cultural Council. The Center designed his professional visits with composers, performers, scholars, and ethnomusicologists.

During his program he met many prominent composers, including Elliott Carter, John Cage, Philip Glass, and Gunther Schuller. He also spent time observing music, dance, and theater—attending performances by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Lincoln Center’s 1989 “Serious Fun,” A Chorus Line, concerts and rehearsals of the New York Philharmonic, and other cultural events. During his frequent trips to other cities, where he saw many local performances and visited museums, Qu Xiaosong was impressed by the rich cultural life available throughout the United States. He made professional visits to Boston; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; San Diego; and Los Angeles. Mr. Qu also spent two weeks as a guest of the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado, where he had limitless opportunities to attend concerts, rehearsals, and seminars as well as to hike in the Rocky Mountains.

Qu Xiaosong feels that the experiences provided by this visit enabled him to get a clear picture of the American contemporary music scene. He believes that the ethnomusicology and music education programs in U.S. universities and conservatories are comprehensive and highly developed. Through his visits with American composers in an array of cities, Qu was able to see the current trends in contemporary music firsthand.

Qu Xiaosong has remained in the United States since the end of his formal program in August 1989—first under grant extensions from the ACC, and later on his own. He is composing and researching ideas for a contemporary opera.

Wu Tianming

In December of 1987, Wu Tianming, film director and then-head of the Xi’an Film Studio, was invited to New York by the Center to screen his film, Old Well—its premiere in the continental United States. Mr. Wu came to New York by way of France where he had participated in the Festival of the Three Continents in Nantes. In October of 1987, Old Well was awarded the Grand Prix of the Tokyo International Film Festival, over 156 other entries. This was the most recent of award-winning films to come from the Xi’an Film Studio, which has become the center for China’s “fifth generation” filmmakers (those film makers who graduated in the first class of the Beijing Film Academy since the Cultural Revolution).

The purpose of Wu Tianming’s trip to the U.S. was the screening, a collaborative effort of the Center and The Asia Society. The screening was followed by a question-and-answer session in which another “fifth generation” filmmaker, Chen Kaige, also participated. One of Wu Tianming’s most noted proteges, Chen made a name for himself at the 1985 Hong Kong International Film Festival with the premiere of Yellow Earth, which was hailed by foreign critics. The session ended with a reception held jointly by the Center, The Asia Society, and the China Institute in America. 
During his ten-day trip, which was funded by the Asian Cultural Council, Wu also met with professors of film at both Columbia and New York University, including Andrew Sarris, film critic for The Village Voice and professor at Columbia University, and Charles Milne, Chairman of New York University’s Institute of Film and Television. The film was shown privately to a class at the Institute as well as to members of the press. In addition, Mr. Wu met with Alan Pakula of Pakula Productions and toured their studios in Queens. He also met with William Simon of Cinema Studios and George Wallach of the Directors Guild.

Stagecraft Delegation

In the spring of 1989, the Shanghai International Festival of Scenic Arts was held with the participation of set, lighting, and costume designers from both Western and Asian countries. The festival included exhibits of different designers’ works, academic discussions, and technological exchanges. Participants went to a number of organized theatrical events, including Tibetan theater, Sichuan opera, and Shaoxing opera. They also went on a three-day field trip to Suzhou, Wuxi, Hangzhou, and Shaoxing.

The American delegation was led by Center Advisory Council member Ming Cho Lee, who received a travel grant for this purpose from the Albert Kunstadter Family Foundation. The delegation members included Susan Tsu, costume designer from Boston University, Arnold Aronson, chairman of the theater department at the University of Michigan; and Michael Ramsaur, lighting designer at Stanford University. The delegation was warmly received by the Chinese hosts, notably Mr. Gong Bo’an, vice chairman of the Chinese Stage Arts Society and a member of the festival’s organizing committee. In sum, the delegation felt that their presentation was effective and that the event was well planned and executed with many warm and interesting exchanges of ideas and information.

Richard Schechner Returns to China to Direct a Play

In the spring of 1989 Richard Schechner, Professor of Performance Studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, returned to China to direct the Shanghai People’s Art Theatre in a performance of William Sun’s Tomorrow He’ll Be Out of the Mountains. This trip to Shanghai followed a January-February 1988 research visit to Beijing, Shanghai, Guizhou, Guangdong, and Fujian Province, where Professor Schechner explored traditional spoken drama.

With seed money from the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia, administered by the Center, and further funding from USIA, Professor Schechner was to have been the first American to direct a Chinese play performed in Chinese by professional Chinese actors. Less than two weeks before the play’s scheduled opening, however. Professor Schechner left China because of the precarious conditions following the government crackdown in Beijing on June 4 and events that followed in Beijing, Shanghai, and elsewhere. The play, which illustrates some of the effects of the Cultural Revolution on China’s educated youths, opened on June 18 and enjoyed a short run before it became too politically risky to perform.

Professor Schechner has published “A Roundtable with Chinese Directors and Playwrights” in The Drama Review (vol. 33, no. 2, T 122) and “Last Exit from Shanghai” in the November 1989 issue of American Theatre. He has addressed his theater classes and public audiences on the subjects of doing research in China and on working with the Shanghai People’s Art Theatre. Professor Schechner hopes to return to China sometime in the future to work with the community of actors and playwrights he has come to know and respect.

Center Lends a Hand

In addition to sponsoring larger scale exchanges, the Center assisted pianist Joseph Bloch, clarinetist Fred Ormand, bassoonist Philip Gottling, and pianist Zenon Fishbein on their trips to China. Joseph Bloch made two visits in 1988: the first was a three-week stay in May at the Shenyang Conservatory in Liaoning Province. While in Shenyang, Professor Bloch gave lectures on piano literature, discussing composers such as Scarlatti, Schumann, Debussy, and Mozart. Bloch also gave a solo concert of Debussy’s “Prelude No. 2” and taught master classes. His second trip was in September, again for three weeks, this time to the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. This was his second stay in Shanghai—the first was in 1985.

Fred Ormand also went to the Shanghai Conservatory, where he taught for one-and-a-half months. He performed a recital for the Conservatory, which—according to their Vice President and Professor of Piano, Li Mingqing—left “a beautiful impression.”

Philip Gottling, a bassoonist with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, traveled to China in December of 1988, where he spent four to five days each at the Xi’an, Sichuan, and Shanghai Conservatories. His trip was very successful, and, while the students’ level of playing varied considerably from school to school, the attendance at his classes was good and the students were enthusiastic.

Pianist Zenon Fishbein participated in exchange activities at the Central Conservatory of Music for ten days in May of 1989. His piano master classes were successful and well attended, which is especially significant considering that many students at that time in Beijing were not attending classes at all. He found the students well prepared and friendly. Mr. Fishbein also gave a piano recital of Argentinian music.

In addition to helping American musicians go to China, the Center also arranged activities in the United States for a number of visiting Chinese artists and arts educators. Mr. Teng Shouyao, an aesthetician at the Institute of Philosophy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, came for a short visit to New York, following a trip to Boston to deliver a paper at the invitation of Dr. Howard Gardner of Harvard University. In New York, Mr. Teng met with Richard Kuhns of Columbia University’s Philosophy Department as well as Pauline Yu of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. The Center also arranged sightseeing and cultural activities for his New York stay.

The Center designed a visit to New York for a delegation of arts educators from Beijing, who were invited to this country by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The delegation was made up of Mr. Fang Qian, Director, Bureau of Arts Education, Ministry of Culture; Mr. Lu Zhengwu, Chief, Foreign Affairs, Bureau of Arts Education, Ministry of Culture; Mr. Xu Shijia, Deputy Director, Central Conservatory of Music; and Mr. Du Jian, Deputy Director and Professor, Central Academy of Fine Arts. The delegation’s first stop was in New York, where the Center arranged for them to visit the LaGuardia High School of Music and the Arts, the National Academy of Design, the Juilliard School, the Manhattan School of Music Pre-Collegiate Program, the Teachers College Program in Art and Art Education, and the Lincoln Center Institute, among other highlights. They also enjoyed a tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a performance by the New York Philharmonic and the Broadway production of A Chorus Line. The delegation subsequently went on to visit Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Portland and Eugene, Oregon; and Los Angeles and San Francisco, California.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching requested the Center’s help in arranging activities in New York for another arts education delegation, this one comprised of members of the State Education Commission. The Center set up meetings for the delegation with arts education leaders from Columbia University’s School of the Arts and Teachers College.

Staff Changes

Since the Center’s last newsletter there have been several staff changes. Susan L. Rhodes, Assistant Director of the Center since July of 1984, became the Center’s Associate Director as of July 1989. Andrew J. Andreasen relocated to Hong Kong to take a position in the private sector. Elizabeth Mintz, graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, joined the Center staff as Administrative Assistant in July of 1990. Kenneth Hao, a long-time freelance interpreter and translator for the Center, also joined the staff in July of 1990 as Assistant to the Director.

Dru E. Finley has relocated to Beijing to work in the private sector; William A. Gerber left the Center to pursue an MBA; and Zhang Zhinong, who succeeded Bill as Financial Assistant, has taken a position in Columbia College’s Office of Alumni Affairs and Development. Mitchell Mensch, vice president of Hunterdon Management, has been brought in on a part-time basis as the Center’s financial consultant. Betsy Glans, the Center’s Program Assistant since March 1988, will be leaving this fall to continue her graduate studies in the Hopkins-Nanjing program, and Jennie Shi, the Center’s Administrative Assistant from June of 1988 to July of 1989 left to attend law school.

Office and part-time assistants during the period since the spring of 1988 have included Brooke Bridges, Chen Yi, Sumin Chou, David Pickel, Lila Quintiliani, Charles Tebbutt, David Tsang, and Wang Yixun. Cathy Hong, a sophomore at Columbia College, is currently the Center’s Office Assistant.

Postponed Projects

The Center had planned many projects for the summer and fall of 1989 that were postponed as a result of events on June 3-4 and following. Among them were a continuation of the O’Neill Teachers Exchange; an educational exchange between the Horace Mann Glee Club and several youth choruses in China; a follow-up to the Taiwan/Mainland composers conference held in August 1988; a festival of “fifth generation” film makers’ graduation films, planned in conjunction with the Museum of Modern Art; a project to assist the Shanghai Museum with bilingual labeling; and a plan to assist the Institute of International Education with a seminar on contemporary Chinese theater that was scheduled to take place in Beijing, Shanghai, Guilin, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. It is unclear at this time which, if any, of these proposed projects will be reinstated at a future date; however, in keeping with the policy statement the Center issued in August 1989, we are not planning to carry out our regular exchanges until we feel that the atmosphere in China would be conducive to a free and open exchange of ideas and that any Chinese sent to participate in our programs would be chosen for their artistic ability and not for ideological reasons.

Purpose and Organization

The Center for United States-China Arts Exchange is a not-for-profit national organization affiliated with the School of the Arts at Columbia University. The Center was founded to promote mutual interest and understanding in the arts of the United States and China and to promote creativity in both countries. The Center’s geographic reach has since expanded to include the entire Pacific region.

Established on October 1, 1978, with support grants from the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and a research grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, the Center receives contributions of office space and university services from Columbia, where it is headquartered. The Center is not a funding organization; it relies on contributions of money materials, and services from foundations, corporations, and individuals to carry out its programs.

The Board of Managers and the Advisory Council, both created in the spring of 1981, oversee the Center’s programs and policies.

Board of Managers
  • Michael I. Sovern, Honorary Chairman
  • Jonathan R. Cole
  • Peter Smith
  • Chou Wen-chung

Advisory Council

  • Robert E. Armstrong
  • Leonard Bernstein
  • Joan W. Harris
  • Esther B. Hewlett
  • Richard C. Holbrooke
  • Robert D. Hormats
  • Geraldine Kunstadter
  • Ming Cho Lee
  • Robert A. Levinson
  • Cho-Liang Lin
  • Yo-Yo Ma
  • Porter McKeever
  • Arthur Miller
  • Waldemar A. Nielsen
  • I. M. Pei
  • Russell A. Phillips, Jr.
  • Joseph W. Polisi
  • Cynthia H. Polksy
  • Arthur H. Rosen
  • Norman Ross
  • Harrison E. Salisbury
  • Larry E. Snoddon
  • Isaac Stern
  • Audrey Topping

Officers and Staff

  • Chou Wen-chung, Director
  • Susan L. Rhodes, Assistant Director
  • Betsey Glans, Program Assistant
  • Ken Hao, Assistant to the Director
  • Elizabeth Mintz, Administrative Assistant

Office Assistant

  • Cathy Hong


The Center is grateful to the following organizations and individuals for general support, program grants, and contributions received from fall 1987 through summer 1989:

Support Grants and Contributions
  • J. Aron Charitable Foundation, Inc.
  • Asian Cultural Council
  • Atlantic Richfield Foundation
  • Chou Wen-chung
  • Ford Foundation
  • Lillian Gladstone, Ph.D.
  • Esther and Walter Hewlett
  • The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  • The Albert Kunstadter Family Foundation
  • The Henry Luce Foundation, Inc.
  • Porter and Susan McKeever
  • Rockefeller Brothers Fund
  • United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia
  • The Starr Foundation
“Tradition and the Future of Chinese Music” Composers Conference, August 1988, Benefit Dinner Benefactors, Patrons, and Donors
  • Bank of China
  • Benny S. T. Chan and Brenda S.N. Chan
  • Mary Chang
  • Hon Pin and Shui Ying Chau
  • Evans Chen
  • Jui-li Chen
  • Lana Cheng
  • China Daily News Inc.
  • Yi-an Chou
  • John Coleman
  • Selma Epstein
  • Diana Fong
  • Fu Hai and Ruth Lin
  • H. N. and Alice Han
  • Gregory Hsu
  • T. C. Hsu
  • S. F. Jen
  • Geraldine and John Kunstadter
  • Chun Yick Lau
  • George and Virginia Lau
  • Howard and Tracey Lee
  • Wing Joe Lee
  • Robert A. Levinson
  • Carol Lipskar
  • Timothy Liu
  • Marcus Loo
  • The Henry Luce Foundation, Inc.
  • John Major
  • Robert Mok
  • Monarch Import Company
  • Douglas Murray and Peggy Blumenthal
  • Pacific Delight Tours
  • Andrew Pao
  • Leon and Cynthia Polsky
  • Shaw Concerts, Inc.
  • Francis Shek
  • Johannes Somary
  • Ming Tcherepnin
  • Lie-Ching Tsang
  • David Vikner
  • Fred Fang-yu Wang
  • Lauren Wong
  • Rankin Sun Wa and Hilda Y. C. Wong
  • World-Wide Marine Inc.
  • Baxter Wu
  • Bernard Wu

The Center thanks the following organizations and individuals for contributions of materials, services, and hospitality that enriched its 1987-1989 programs:

  • Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
  • The D’Agostino Family
  • American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers
  • Eulalia Andreasen
  • Theodore Antoniou
  • Asian-American Foundation for the Arts, Inc.
  • Aspen Music Festival and School
  • Basic Books, Inc.
  • The Benner Family
  • Susan Blaustein
  • Bloomingdale House of Music
  • Broadcast Music Incorporated
  • Brooklyn College, Conservatory of Music
  • Brooklyn Philharmonic
  • Burson-Marsteller
  • John Cage
  • Capital Children’s Museum
  • Barbara Carlisle
  • Elliott Carter
  • Kuan Chang
  • Chen Yi
  • Cheng Pei-kai
  • Shyh-ji Chew
  • China Books & Periodicals
  • China Development International
  • Morley Cho
  • Yi-an Chou
  • Cincinnati Public Schools
  • Columbia University
  • C.V. Starr East Asian Library
  • Teachers College, Program in Art and Art Education
  • Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China
  • Corcoran Gallery
  • George Crumb
  • Merce Cunningham Dance Company and Foundation
  • The Curtis Institute of Music
  • Mario Davidovsky
  • Lyle Davidson
  • Directors Guild Publishers
  • Stephen Dobbs
  • Paul Dresher
  • Daniel Druckman
  • Duke Ellington School for the Arts
  • Eurasia Press
  • Fashion Institute of Technology
  • Molissa Fenley
  • Fillmore Arts Center
  • Renee Furst
  • Howard Gardner
  • Beate Gordon
  • Georgie Grosse
  • Hall High School
  • Harvard University, Music Department
  • The Erick Hawkins Dance Company
  • The Heath Family
  • Claire Heidrich
  • Howard University, College of Fine Arts
  • C. T. Hu
  • David Henry Hwang
  • Lee Hyla
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Ellen Jacobs Associates
  • The Juilliard School
  • The Juilliard School, Pre-Collegiate Program
  • Laurence Kardish
  • Frank Kehl
  • The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, AAE/Education Department
  • Raymond Kennedy
  • Bertram Konowitz
  • Harriet Kossman
  • Richard Kuhns
  • Geraldine and John Kunstadter
  • Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and the Arts
  • Lawrence Public Schools, Music Department
  • Lincoln Center Institute
  • Henry Luce III
  • Luchina Productions
  • Bruce MacCombie
  • MacMillan Publishing Company
  • Adrienne Mancia
  • Manhattan School of Music
  • Don Martino
  • Maryland Institute of Art
  • Massachusetts Council on the Arts
  • Mayor’s Office of the City of New York
  • The Mayville Family
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art Education Department
  • Metropolitan Museum Group Tours Office
  • Miami University, School of Fine Arts
  • Montgomery Elementary School
  • Museum of Modern Art, Education Department
  • National Academy of Design
  • National Gallery of Art
  • Warren Newman
  • New York-Beijing Friendship City Committee
  • New York/Beijing Project
  • New York University
  • Institute of Film and Television
  • School of Cinema Studies
  • W. W. Norton & Company
  • Alan Pakula
  • Pantheon Books
  • Papa Susso
  • Rulan Chao Pian
  • Richard Pittman, Boston Musica Viva
  • University of Pittsburgh, Music Department
  • The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
  • Public School 84
  • Ralph Raunft
  • George Rickey
  • Rockefeller Brothers Fund
  • Mike Ross
  • Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
  • Dewitt Sage
  • Sands Montessori School
  • Andrew Sards
  • Andre Schiffrin
  • Gunther Schuller
  • Scott Seligman
  • The Shubert Organization
  • Sidwell Friends Lower School
  • John Simon
  • Prill Smiley, Columbia University, Electronic Music Center
  • Smithsonian Young Associates Program
  • Theodore Solotaroff 
  • Mr. and Mrs. Johannes Somary
  • Sycamore Junior High School
  • Tan Dun
  • Billy Taylor
  • Paul Taylor Dance Company
  • Third Street Music School
  • Kaity Tong
  • Seymour and Audrey Topping
  • Torpedo Factory
  • Beth Tu
  • Chinary Ung
  • United Nations International School
  • University of California, San Diego
  • Barry Vercoe
  • George Wallach, Directors Guild of America
  • Norman Wang
  • Washington Project for the Arts
  • West Hartford Public Schools, Bugbee School
  • West Hartford Public Schools, Department of Fine and Performing Arts
  • West Hartford Public Schools, Duffy School
  • Whetstone Elementary School
  • World Music Institute
  • Darlene Yeager
  • Pauline Yu
  • Zhou Long
  • Qinru Zhou

  • Editors: Susan L. Rhodes, Carol Collins, and James Lupo
  • Assistant Editors: Betsy Glans and Elizabeth Mintz
  • Production: Donna Snyder
  • Layout and Design: Stephen Niedzwiecki
  • The Center for US-China Arts Exchange
  • Columbia University

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