Fifth consecutive AHRC UK-China Creative Industries award success

AHRC UK-China Creative Industries awards were recently released and Song of the Female Textile Workers, past, present and the future (2022-2023) led by Dr Haili Ma has been successful.

This is the fifth consecutive AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) UK-China Creative industries themed award that Dr Ma has captured and brought to the School of Performance and Cultural Industries since joining the School in 2018.

AHRC initiated UK-China Creative industries funding series in 2018 with a Shanghai workshop to explore areas for collaboration, identify thematic priorities and build new partnerships across UK and China. Seven awards were made on Development through the Creative Economy in China in 2018 and 13 awards on UK-China Creative Partnership Development were made in 2019.

In 2020, eight large-scaled UK-China Research-Industry Creative Partnership were awarded, of which five received top-up grants to UK-China Creative Partnerships: responding to the longer-term impacts of COVID-19.

The latest success is under the call of Understanding the Future of UK-China Research and Innovation Collaboration in the Creative Industries. Dr Haili Ma is the PI (Principal Investigator) on each award project.

Song of the Female Textile Workers: past, present and the future’ takes forward a film version mixed reality Shanghai All-female Yue Opera (Shanghai Yueju), produced in 2020, to further explore UK-China community commonality and audience connectivity.

Textile industry, symbol of UK industrialisation and known as China’s Mother Industry. At the turn of the 20th century, migrant female textile workers brought their hometown folk opera to Shanghai and developed it into China’s first female working class urban theatre form – Shanghai All-female Yue Opera (Shanghai Yueju).

In April 2020, Shanghai Yue Opera House pioneered digital streaming in collaboration with TikTok and received 1.8 million hits. Shanghai Yueju is to date the most popular opera form in China representing urban female audience.

Textile heritage, both tangible (building sites, machineries, fabric etc.) and intangible (music, songs, storytelling etc.), has been a rich resource in post-industrial social and economic transformation.

Both Eastern Delta China (Shanghai, Zhejiang and Jiangsu) and the North of England have countless textile mills turned arts and creative clusters for urban regeneration, attracting tourists and consumers from diverse backgrounds. Song of the Female Textile Workers, past, present and the future utilises the textile heritage sites across Shanghai and Leeds to link audiences from both communities.

Working in partnership with Shanghai Textile Museum, Shanghai Yue Opera House, Leeds Industrial Museum, stage@leeds, and two Yorkshire based digital companies: HUMAN and Megaverse, Dr. Haili Ma will lead her team to gather community stories, songs, poetry and music on the theme of female textile workers.

The collected data will be passed on to Shanghai Yue Opera House which will commission an in-house composer to produce a new piece of All-female Yue Opera to celebrate UK-China community commonality and the 50th anniversary of full diplomatic relations between UK and China.