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Theatre for Young Audiences in China Report

China has a long performing arts tradition that includes unique forms of classical dance, music and opera. However, recent decades have seen both young audiences and adults shifting their interest away from traditional performing art forms and towards Western forms of theatre, including theatre produced specifically for children. Growing audience demand has also been influenced by demographic changes. As China’s “Post 80s generation” (those born after 1980) have become parents, they have driven increasing recognition of the important role of theatre in the education and entertainment of their young children. Running in parallel to this has been the relaxing of China’s 37 year one-child policy (announced in 2015), with the aim of increasing the number of children in future generations.

The British Council in China commissioned BOP Consulting to produce this briefing note mapping theatre for young audiences in China, in order to support UK performing arts practitioners wishing to work with this sector.

This document aims to inform, first by presenting relevant information, for example on main players and market conditions. It then puts forward advice based on analysis of the above, including key considerations and what the opportunities for the UK performing arts sector might look like. This report uses the term ‘theatre for young audiences’ to include all performances made for children and young people between 6 months and 18 years of age. This is so not to exclude older age groups, as the term ‘children’s theatre’ in China usually refers to audiences between 3 and 12 years old.