The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts (PFSTA) China Centre launches in Suzhou


On 16 September 2018, the inauguration ceremony of the Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts (PFSTA) China Centre was held in Suzhou Yuan Centre. The ceremony was hosted by Johnson Chang Tsong Zung, board director of the China Centre and director of the Yuan Centre. The event was attended by Sir David Green, chairman of the PFSTA, Dr. Khaled Azzam, director of the PFSTA, Mr. Matthew Knowles, East China Area Director of the British Council, Mr. Xu Chunhong, vice director of the Suzhou Municipal Bureau of Culture, Radio, Television, Press and Publication, as well as representatives from China Academy of Art, The Palace Museum, and guests from arts, crafts, intangible cultural heritage and education fields.

Sir David Green delivered a speech on behalf of the PFSTA at the beginning of the inauguration. He traced collaborations between the School and Chinese art institutions and individuals in the last ten years. Together with the School’s longtime trustee, Johnson Chang, Sir David celebrated the launch of the China Centre, next to the historic Jia Yuan Hall on Shiquan Street in Suzhou. 

Sir David Green read from a congratulatory letter from HRH The Prince of Wales to Mr. Johnson Chang for the launch of the China Centre. The Prince of Wales thanked Mr Chang for his support of the School over the years. He wrote, “I am delighted that our relationship will continue through our new centre in Suzhou. The Yuan Centre is a major development in the school’s outreach work and will be a pioneering step in introducing our work in China.” He also stated that he is excited for the new development and hopes that the School can contribute to the understanding of cultural heritage and principles of living traditions that bind humanity together.

In his speech, Johnson Chang emphasised the reinvigoration of traditional culture on the occasion of the launch of the China Centre. He said, PFSTA chose Suzhou as the location of the China Centre, bringing traditional arts theories and methodologies of the West to Suzhou, in the hope that by combining these with the local and historical experience of Suzhou, we can more effectively apply the broader wisdom of humanity to achieve harmony between art and nature.. Mr Chang emphasised that the arts education at the Yuan Centre promotes the principle of harmony in nature through a combination of practice and theory, and hopes that the collaboration between China and the West can contribute to the education of traditional arts. 

Director Khaled Azzam looked back upon the transformation of the state of Chinese traditional arts in society since his first visit to China at the invitation of Mr Chang. He said, an important objective of the School’s work is to encourage the young people in every country to understand the value of their own cultural heritage. But the source and the principle from which those different cultures develop are very much the same. He looks forward to the future operation of the China Centre. 

Mr. Matthew Knowles, East China Area Director of the British Council, delivered a congratulatory message on behalf of the British ambassador to China. He said, this is an exciting occasion, because students from different cultural backgrounds will study here. They will not only communicate with graduates of PFSTA, but also learn from one another. He sincerely congratulated the PFSTA China Centre on its opening and looks forward to seeing the students’ works in the future. 

In order to further the exchange between PFSTA and Suzhou traditional arts and crafts, the vice director of the Suzhou Municipal Bureau of Culture, Radio, Television, Press and Publication, Mr. Xu Chunhong, and the director of PFSTA, Dr. Khaled Azzam, signed a Cooperation Agreement. Through China Centre, PFSTA will cooperate with local public institutions in the areas of traditional craftsmanship, creative culture and intangible heritage through a variety of programs. 

Next, Dr. Azzam introduced to the guests the inaugural exhibition of the PFSTA China Centre, Art Projects Created by Recent PFSTA Graduates, held in Jia Yuan Hall. Through expository posters, Dr. Azzam introduced traditional art education delivered under the teaching philosophy of the PFSTA and the School’s outreach programs in China and around the world. 

Artworks and study journals of recent graduates of PFSTA are exhibited in the main hall of Jia Yuan Hall. Dr. Azzam pointed out that in addition to their artworks, the students’ reflective journals are also of great importance as they clearly exemplify the pedagogical process. 

After the opening ceremony, a forum entitled Traditional Art Education in the Contemporary Context was held in the Yuan Centre. The forum was hosted by the scholar and senior curator of Phoenix TV Hong Kong, Mr. Wang Luxiang. Discussants include Mr. Zhang Minjie, professor of the China Academy of Art; Jamyang Lodro Rinpoche, Tibetan Buddhism Jonang Sect lineage master and founder of the Rangbala Jonang Intangible Cultural Heritage Learning Centre; Mr. Ye Fang, board director of PFSTA China Centre; Mrs. He Shanlian, director of operations of the education department of The Palace Museum, and Mr. Li Yapeng, founder of Shuyuan Foundation for China Cultural Development. Participants discussed and shared with enthusiasm their experience of practicing scholarship and educational work.