The Shanghai Oriental Art Center, located in LuJiaZui Financial & Trade Zone of Pudong New Area, is an iconic cultural landmark in the city. To the design of French architect Paul Andreu, it was built with an RMB1.1 billion joint investment of the Shanghai municipal and the Pudong New Area governments. With a floor area of some 40,000 square meters, its overall structure is composed of five hemispheres that serve as its entrance hall, recital hall, concert hall, exhibition hall, and opera hall, resembling a lovely butterfly orchid from the air.
After it won the bid for the management of the SHOAC in September 2003, the Poly Culture and Arts Co., Ltd. (from Jun 2009 onward the Beijing Poly Theatre Management Co., Ltd.) established the Shanghai Oriental Art Center Management Co., Ltd. together with the Wenhui Xinmin United Press Group (from Jan 2014 altered to Shanghai United Media Group) to oversee the operation of SHOAC’s art and ancillary facilities. The bidding process and management mechanism were considered trail-blazing moves among theatres in China.
Since its official opening on July 1, 2005, the SHOAC has hosted a dazzling array of art performances, notably the debut of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in Shanghai in 2005 was hailed as one of the top 10 cultural events of that year in the city, making the SHOAC a top 10 lifestyle landmark of Shanghai and the lodestar of classic music performance. In March 2006, the SHOAC launch the election of “top ten orchestras in my mind” among the public and announced its plan to invite all the elected orchestras to perform in Shanghai. The election and the concertizing effort won the Gold Medal of “top ten performing art events in China”. When the SHOAC announced its cross-year performance season in July 2006, it was the first theater in China to do so as per international practice.
In an effort to be “the Home of Symphony”, the SHOAC is the first theatre in mainland China to accommodate both the Berliner Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras. It also seeks to be a platform on which Chinese works receive their world premieres and overseas works receive their China premieres. As a champion of traditional arts of China, it observes the “Chinese Opera Festival” each year to great acclaim. And better yet, its Saturday Brunch Concerts register a total number of audiences topping 100,000 each year, making this series a calling card of SHOAC. The monthly open days, art lectures, the Oriental Cultural Forum and the policy of students’ tickets adds to its popularity among art aficionados. In November 2006, the SHOAC became the first theater in China to obtain the ISO9001 quality management and the ISO14001 environmental management accreditation from the China Quality Certification Center.
The SHOAC makes every effort to be a premier art center not only in Asia but also in the entire world. It seeks to maintain its forefront position in the reforms of theatre management in China and to give impetus to the cultural construction of Shanghai by establishing a world-class platform for arts. It aims to accommodate audiences at different levels and to celebrate arts forms of the East and the West. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, SHOAC published Collection of a Decade over 600,000 words in 2015, summarizing its successful exploration and practice in the market reversal of the highbrow art.
The SHOAC is the pioneer of membership marketing in the industry. In 2016, it held 655 performances and reached over 630,000 audiences in a year, which is only second to the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing. There are always over 100 performances selling in SHOAC at the same time, sometimes reaches 180, which breaks the record in China. SHOAC received praise from Wenhui Daily for “finding a successful way of modern theatre management in China”. Upon reading the season’s calendar of SHOAC in 2009, the renowned conductor Zubin Mehta made a revealing comment, “I am totally shocked to see such a world-class center for music in Shanghai.” Chicago Tribune also made accomplishments on SHOAC’s contribution to China’s culture boom, and regarded it as “the catalyst for change throughout the region”.