POSTED: July 24th 2015
InDepth

Sports Travel: 798 Art Zone Shows the Cultural Side of Beijing

The District is made up of half-century old decommissioned factories that have their own unique architectural style © 798 Art District
The District is made up of half-century old decommissioned factories that have their own unique architectural style © 798 Art District

Eclectic art is everywhere © 798 Art District
Eclectic art is everywhere © 798 Art District

Catch a gallery exhibit © 798 Art District
Catch a gallery exhibit © 798 Art District

DR. ERIC C. SCHWARZ / Sports Features Communications  

(SFC) Left Bank in Paris.  Greenwich Village and Soho in New York City.  Southbank in London.  These are some of the famous art districts in major cities known around the world simply by its name.  Well, add another to the list... 798.

Also known as the Dashanzi Art District, the 798 Arts Zone is made up of half-century old decommissioned factories that have its own unique architectural style that now boast a flourishing artist community.

During the 1980's and 1990's, the contemporary artist community struggled to find a place to call their own, as Avant-garde art was not accepted in society by the government, and mainly existed in the shadows of the city.  In 1995, the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing moved into one of the factory buildings.  Slowly over the next decade, domestic and foreign artists alike started moving into the new cavernous spaces to expand this artistic community.

Art galleries, sculpture studios, exhibit halls, cafés, restaurants, and not-for-profit artistic foundations all found a home in the 798 Zone.  Today, the community has expanded to include lofts, publishing firms, fashion designers, tailor shops, and music clubs.  In addition, the 798 Zone hosts numerous fashion shows and corporate events put on by some of the world's top designers and corporations ranging from Christian Dior to Sony.

With the growth and success of the 798 Art Zone, another area that has grown about a five minute drive away is in the town of Caochangdi - the home to a growing number of galleries and artists.  Dubbed "The Community", it was created in 2012 as a research-driven effort in the areas of arts, design, and technology - with the ultimate goal of nurturing the diversity of the area through curatorial projects.

The 798 Art Zone encompasses an eclectic mix of artistic offerings referred to as the "BoBo" community - a growing mix of bourgeois and bohemian culture.  The 798 Zone also looks to be the catalyst for the expansion of artist communities and the overall artistic movement in Beijing.  It will be interesting to see the continued growth over the next decade, and perhaps will be a centerpiece for tourists to visit should Beijing secure the bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

**DR. ERIC C. SCHWARZ is a tenured Senior Lecturer of Sport Management at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia.  He has been an academician for 15 years in the areas of sport business management, international tourism, and hospitality management - with special focus on the areas of sport marketing, sport finance, tourism, and facility/event management.  He speaks globally and is the author of numerous publications in these areas, as well as been actively involved in consulting projects working with a multitude of sport and community organizations ranging from grassroots efforts to hallmark events.  


Keywords · Beijing 2022; Olympics; art; 798 Zone


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