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Former TV anchor aids traditional arts, crafts

By XING WEN | China Daily | Updated: 2019-07-11 08:29
Zhao Pu, a former CCTV anchorman, writes about his understanding of traditional Eastern aesthetics, respect for artisans and the appreciation of their work in his book Simple Treasures, which was released in May. [Photo provided to China Daily]

"I wanted to raise the profile of these artisans," says Zhao, who is now the director of the China Arts and Crafts Center, a nonprofit that aims to organize cultural activities nationwide, carry out theoretical studies and boost cultural exchanges among different countries, all related to folk crafts.

In 2017, initiated by this organization, the first Chinese Craftsmen Conference was held in Hangzhou, gathering together nearly 1,000 artisans from across the country to discuss topics like how to improve designs and how to adapt to today's market.

Zhao says the biggest challenge in passing down traditional crafts is retaining customer interest. If people buy and use craft items in their daily lives, the artisans will enjoy better incomes and the survival of their traditions may be assured.

"Commercialization is a great way to protect traditional culture," he says, adding that his organization is now collaborating with Dongjia, an e-commerce platform on which over 7,000 craftspeople sell their craft items and stay in touch with the customers.

Zhao says by analyzing the data of purchasing behaviors on the platform, they can give more practical advice to the artisans, such as how to take attractive photos of their work and set a reasonable price for their products.

The average monthly sales volume on the platform has reached 80 million yuan ($11.6 million), he says.

Separately, a 400-square-meter studio with a sofa, table, tea set and some ornamental items made by artisans has been set up by Zhao and his partners on Beijing's Guozijian Street as a showcase for traditional Chinese crafts.

"On the surface, we are helping artisans to sell their works, but actually we are promoting a traditional lifestyle featuring Eastern philosophy and aesthetics," Zhao adds.

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