List the key activities that were carried out during this reporting period in order to achieve these expected results. Please describe the activities in detail and note their effectiveness or any problems encountered in implementing them.
- Key activities that were carried out during this reporting period in order to achieve these expected results:
(1) The procedure for taking apprentices has been further simplified and the support for representative bearers has been enhanced through providing venues for transmission and practice, equipment, and financial aid, and similar, to create favorable conditions for intergenerational transmission. For example, the two sisters, You Wenfeng and You Wenlan have been identified as provincial level representative bearers to receive the financial aids from the government. In 2015, Heilongjiang Province set up "Longjiang Transmission Award" to recognize and reward outstanding bearers of ICH for their outstanding contributions. Two bearers of Yimakan storytelling have won the award. In addition, attention has been paid to the situation of taking apprentices by bearers and to their daily life through regular visits, holding seminars, free medical examinations, and the like.
(2) Teaching of the mother tongue of the Hezhen has been integrated into formal education so as to guide teenagers to appreciate and transmit Yimakan storytelling. Apart from the pilot program on Chinese-Hezhen bilingual teaching implemented in the central schools in Jiejinkou Hezhen Ethnic Township and Bacha Hezhen Ethnic Township of Tongjiang City, activities to bring the Yimakan storytelling and the teaching of the Hezhen language into schools have been actively promoted. Professionals have been invited to compile textbooks for courses of the Hezhen language. Training classes on the Hezhen language have been organized. Such yimakanqi mafa as Wu Mingxin, Wu Baochen, and Ge Yuxia have been invited to give classes in schools. All these have inspired and improved the interest of children in the transmission of the element. Preferential policies have been provided for students of the Hezhen choosing to major in intangible cultural heritage by Fine Arts College in Harbin Normal University. Two relatives of national level representative storytellers have been enrolled. Hu Yi, one of the excellent graduates, has found a job in the Center for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Suburb of Jiamusi to be a teacher in the transmission and practice center of Yimakan storytelling.
(3) The community-based transmission practice has been promoted by the establishment of Yimakan storytelling transmission and practice centers. Five Yimakan storytelling transmission and practice centers have been established in the four major communities of the Hezhen and have become the major venues for community activities. Representative bearers have organized transmission and practice activities regularly. According to the annual arrangement of the teaching activities, the trainees are assessed yearly or every half year. Yimakan storytelling activities have been organized at such traditional festivals of the Hezhen as Urgun Festival and Culture Heritage Day and the competition on Yimakan storytelling has been organized every year. Excellent trainees standing out in the annual assessment and competitions have been rewarded and selected as candidates for potential successors. Through expanding the channels of transmission, more young people have been attracted to commit themselves to the transmission and safeguarding of the Yimakan storytelling. For example, Jiamusi City has identified such excellent trainees as Wu Mingrong, Hu Yi, ans Zhang Wenzhong, as prefecture level representative bearers.
(4) The all-round digital documentation and construction of thematic databases of the element has been fully promoted. Culturally competent departments at different levels and safeguarding organizations have organized experts, scholars, and relevant professionals to fully implement the work on the collection of texts, pictures, audio and video materials, and physical assets and the systematic investigation and filing of the viability and the status quo of representative bearers of the element. Meanwhile, transmission practices have been carried out in local transmission and practice centers for Yimakan storytelling and all classes have been recorded during the filing. Thematic archives have been established in different locations and the thematic database of Yimakan storytelling has been created in the Center for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Heilongjiang Province. At present, the center is constructing an integrated platform of digital resources relevant to Yimakan storytelling to further integrate the digital archives of Yimakan storytelling in county and prefecture level safeguarding organizations of intangible cultural heritage and promote the sharing of information between safeguarding organizations in different places and within communities.
(5) Academic communities, experts, and scholars have been supported to publish their research achievements. Since 2013, six symposiums and seminars on Yimakan storytelling at provincial and national levels have been organized, over 20 essays of high quality have been published, the Safeguarding and Transmission of the Hezhen Yimakan Storytelling has been inscribed on the list of key provincial level research project, and a series of academic achievements including A Collection of Yimakan Storytelling, Oral History of Yimakan Storytelling by Representative Bearers, Field Research on Yimakan Storytelling and the Hezhen People, and Collection of Essays on Yimakan Storytelling, have been released.
(6) Continuous promotion activities have been implemented via mass media and public cultural facilities. Heilongjiang TV has produced the three-episode documentary Forever Yimakan and broadcast it on the TV and radio repeatedly. Tongjiang TV has launched a channel on the Hezhen culture with such programs as Forever Yimakan, Lecture on the Hezhen Language, and so on. These programs have played an important role in the transmission of the element in terms of the ethnic group, folk customs, ecology and bearers from the native perspective with the documentary style stories of people. Five Yimakan storytelling transmission and practice centers and three Yimakan storytelling art troupes have actively organized demonstrations, road shows, and training activities by making full use of the local Hezhen folklore gardens, the Hezhen folk culture villages, and the Hezhen museums. Well-received by the Hezhen people, these activities have become important channels for attracting community members to learn the element in transmission and training centers.
(7) Plays focusing on the element have been created to improve the understanding of the element and the recognition of its importance by teenagers and the public. Aiming at different target groups, the shadow puppet play related to Yimakan storytelling called Siwen Mergen has been created on the basis of the heroic stories in the tradition of Yimakan storytelling and in combination with the local performing art of Wangkui Shadow Puppet Play in Heilongjiang Province. Such bearers as Wu Mingxin, Fu Zhanxiang, and Ge Yuxia have provided advices for the creation, recorded the speaking and singing for the play in person, and come to the rehearsal site to teach Hezhen customs and to guide the performance to actively support the innovative way of safeguarding. As a pilot project for innovative safeguarding, the play has been warmly welcomed by the children and highly recognized in the communities, creating remarkable social impact among the public. The modern way of practice not only meets the expectation of the community members but also is easy for children to accept. It has improved the visibility of the element and has promoted the dialogue between intergenerational transmission and the transmission among different ethnic groups.
- Problems encountered during the implementation
(1) The teaching of the Hezhen language is limited by the absence of a robust language environment, while the transmission and practice of Yimakan storytelling is restrained by the command of the phonetic language. Since 2013, relevant communities have chosen the sagdi jarimku of Site Mergen as the unified textbook for transmission and practice under the support of the Center for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Heilongjiang Province. Tutorial materials and CDs have been handed out in the five transmission and practice centers of the Yimakan storytelling. This measure has had some success.. Nevertheless, although the version marked with phonetic symbols is closer to the mother tongue, ordinary trainees are weak in their mother tongue with limited capacity in the acquisition of the language. They could only try to learn it by rote without further understanding.
(2) The government has provided financial support for young Hezhen people who delayed work for learning Yimakan storytelling. The amount is between 20 yuan to 50 yuan for each class and trainees should be assessed quarterly. For those standing out in all participants of the long term transmission and practice of Yimakan storytelling, bonuses between 100 to 500 yuan are given to encourage them to continue the study of Yimakan storytelling. However, the system of financial aid could easily divert students from the original purpose of carrying forward the culture of the ethnic group, since some young people may participate in the learning with the sole purpose of receiving financial aid.