That is until the decline fall of the USSR and the advent of Deng Xiaoping’s “Gaige kaifang” (glasnost) fractured the integration/subserviance of public arts that had been the beacon of State Authoritarianism. With the weight of state concern shifting from “warm” idealism to “cold” economics and trade-driven growth, art – that is, highly visible, grand scale art- also had to become “for export”, or (better) for import and exchange, no longer with or under the influence of Eastern Bloc jurying. This had of course already happened in postwar Japan, but with a smoothness and pace of success (quickly prompting a redefinition of global image) reflective of early Cold War cultural subsidy by the US-led “free” art world of The West.
No such cultural “handouts” were forthcoming in the decades following China’s opening, nor that of the FSU. At least in or from the Public Sector. Individual eccentrics with a track record of anti-government petulance and trouble-making were and are of course the exception (viz. Ai Weiwei et al.) But “big” (that is, expensive, creativity intense performance) arts, though dismantled and rebundled in the hope of being recapitalized by the Multinationals and overseas Chinese Communities (the most successfully so in Hong Kong style film, second most in architecture), have failed to generate a string of globally respected hits. Or a “mantra”, or brand logo, that invites broad attention, opens doors for follow-on experiments in the stage arts. The hoped for ripple effect in the wake of the 1998 cross-border staging of Puccini’s Turandot inside the Old Palace, which was indeed a triumph of co-productivity, of creative fusion across the boundaries of archaic cultural traditions, has has instead played out as high velocity same-old same-old: still crowd-drawing but still requiring (to do so) frantic venue-spinning more or less in the proximity of the original. It served surely to further glorify the producer’s own image and reputation for multiversity, but left behind it no permanent performance company or space. It was not the start of a new dialogue, or heightened awareness of how theatrical recombinations might work, what materials they might further exploit: but rather the end of a proto-but-not-yet-genre. When Tan Dun attempted a kind of New York based but Chinese performed reciprocation (“First Emperor, 2007), practically no one came to the ball.