The government of Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, has published a work plan for 2017-20 in which it says it will subsidize residents for their cultural consumption. If the measure is implemented, local residents will gain points when they purchase books, go to the cinema or theater, and visit museums, exhibitions and sightseeing spots, which will then entitle them to a reimbursement of some of the money they have spent. Legal Daily comments:
Chengdu is the first city to propose such a move, which will be most meaningful to local rural inhabitants, especially the poverty-stricken population living in the remote rural areas within the city's jurisdiction.
With markedly lower incomes than their urban counterparts, rural residents spend much less on cultural products and activities. The government subsidies are intended to play an important role in enabling them to enjoy more cultural activities, which would not only broaden their horizons, but also inspire them to take the initiative in striving for a better life.
Chengdu's promotion of cultural consumption is therefore a sort of poverty alleviation measure, making it possible for those residents on low incomes to enrich their lives.
Yet the local government still has a lot to do to ensure the work plan does not fail. For instance, some remote rural areas still lack basic cultural infrastructure, such as the internet, bookstores and libraries. Let alone cinemas, theaters or museums.
The local government should in the first place increase its cultural input to provide internet accesses and access to books for people living in the countryside.
Carrying out Chengdu's initiative highlights the role culture can play in improving people's lives and sets a good example for other local governments.