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Art injection

Art injection

Hefeng Art Foundation founder Li Feng (middle) on a boat in Baiyangdian Lake with other members of his art education project.

They have since visited the village every weekend to give the children free classes namely ballet, drama, symphony (which includes violin, horn and drum), painting and choir.

Li Feng, a 58-year-old investor in Beijing, initiated the idea of bringing art classes to rural China. Duancun is his ancestors' hometown. Li Feng's elder brother donated money to build a primary school in Anxin county several years ago.

Having spent his childhood in well-equipped schools in Beijing and learned the violin as a teenager, Li Feng says art education is important for a person's lifelong development. He owns an investment company in Beijing and has invested in many art exhibitions and publications.

All the expenses of the weekly art teaching program are sponsored by Hefeng Art Foundation, which Li Feng founded with 2 million yuan ($326, 800).

When he visited three primary schools in Anxin county in 2012, he was shocked that the schools did not provide art lessons.

"One reason is that local schools do not have the money to buy enough equipment. But the root cause is that it's never easy to employ art teachers in rural areas," Li says.

"And parents do not see the need to spend on such kind of education. The first time we met local villagers and tried to spread the idea of free art classes, the crowd was so quiet and nobody even raised a question, because what we were talking about sounded strange to them."

The village relies on growing corn and wheat as well as tourism because of its location, which is near the picturesque Baiyangdian Lake.

While most of the symphony and painting lessons were conducted by college students, ballet was taught by Guan Yu and his wife Zhang Ping, two professional teachers from the ballet department of Beijing Dance Academy.

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