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March Musical Madness

While Shanghai’s weather in March tends to be cold and wet, the month heats up with the return of the JUE Music & Arts Festival. From 12 March to 3 April, local promoting heroes Split Works, in cooperation with many of the city’s best music, art and culture venues, present three weeks of musical and creative malarkey. Split Works’ Marketing & Media Manager Abby Lavin recently sat down with TALK to give us a preview of what’s in store.

What does Split Works hope to achieve with JUE?

In 2009 when we first started JUE, we didn't know what sort of reaction it would get from people. But judging from the insane growth of the festival since then, we see that there is a demand for this type of inter-disciplinary, eclectic arts festival, both in Shanghai and in Beijing. JUE 2009 had just 25 events, the following year we grew to 77 events and this year we have 89 confirmed events so far. Of course, besides the music stuff there is a boatload of other artsy JUE events. It is intended to be a platform to showcase the best of the creative scenes in Shanghai. We see it as a period on the calendar when everyone is encouraged to stand up and express themselves and try something new.

How do you pick the musical acts?

Often we end up working with particular international acts because over the years we have built up good relationships with their record labels or booking agents. Then it's an issue of really nerding out and doing a bit of data-scraping on popular Chinese blogs and forums, getting a sense of which acts have the potential to do well here. We've also paid a lot more attention to having a well-rounded local line-up, as well as stepping out of our comfort zone a bit to do more mainstream, poppy stuff like Gala.

Every year JUE seems to get bigger and better. What's new and improved this year?

The learning curve on executing an event like JUE is very steep, so every year we are improving our logistics so that events run more smoothly. One thing I’m really happy we're doing this year is starting many of the gigs around about 8pm, because it makes it that much easier for a younger audience to come out and enjoy the shows and get home before the subway closes. We will also be producing a limited edition (only 300 copies) of a JUE 2011 compilation CD, featuring tracks from many of the performing musicians. The price will be RMB 50 per CD available for sale at all JUE concerts, and also on our Taobao store. 100 per cent of proceeds from the sales will be donated to Morning Tears, a charity organisation that works with children in China whose parents are incarcerated, providing these children with a stable home, medical and psychiatric care and education. Please visit to learn more.


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