Theses Master's

Challenges and Opportunities of Cultural Planning in China: A Case Study of Tianqiao Performing Arts District Planning in Beijing

Tian, Chengqi

Over the past decades, the economic progress made in China has radically transformed the neighborhoods in Chinese cities. Accompanying the rapid urban expansion, however, is the destruction of both tangible historic structures and diminishment of intangible cultural heritage in many cities. As many of the historic cities are facing the dual challenges of both stimulating urban development and preserving cultural heritage, many major cities in China, therefore, choose to establish cultural districts as a way of capturing the economic potential of cultural heritage while preserving the cultural heritage itself. The cultural, economic, and administrative contexts in China have added to the complexities of cultural planning in China and posed many challenges for implementing cultural plans. Those challenges and complexities are particularly pronounced in major Chinese cities playing important political and economic roles. Therefore, this thesis aims to understand those challenges and complexities through a qualitative case study on one cultural district in central Beijing, the Tianqiao Performing Arts District.

Tianqiao Performing Arts District aims to accomplish two purposes: urban revitalization and reestablishing the region as the city’s cultural center. However, since its announcement in 2009, the government has not made much progress in accomplishing its goals. The implementation of the plan has stagnated and so far its positive impacts are limited. The thesis, therefore, examines the factors hindering the progress of the through interviews of those relevant stakeholders and on-site observations. After collecting those information, the paper will formulate some recommendations that can alleviate the issues that hinder the progress of the plan. Through the case study of Tianqiao Performing Arts District, this thesis aims to examine the challenges and opportunities facing cultural planning in China and identifying the challenges facing cultural districts in the particular context of China.

The thesis starts with literature reviews of major theories, definitions, and measurement of success for cultural districts, as well as relevant literatures discussing reasons for the successes or failures of cultural districts. In order to answer our research questions, we conducted a study on Tianqiao Performing Arts District in Beijing with on-site observations and qualitative interviews. The qualitative information from interviews were summarized to help us gain an understanding of the factors hindering the progress of the districts; these information will also help us understand what are important for successful cultural planning in the broader context of China.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Freeman, Lance M.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 17, 2019