Shanghai street: Arts in and of a city

W. Jane DAVIDSON, Ming Hoi Victor LAI

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


This paper investigates of the role of community projects for arts practitioner and researchers and the impact of their work on audiences. The Shanghai Street Artspace, set amongst the crowded Yaumatei and Mongkok Districts of Hong Kong, is directed by Victor Lai, and has been operating under its current community arts focus for the past two years. Nowadays the Artspace is a place where painters, photographers, writers and musicians exchange ideas and experiences with the local inhabitants and commercial entrepreneurs. Groups who use the space range from Cantonese opera troupes to singer-songwriters; market-stall holders to investment bankers; ‘Ladies of the Night’ to fortune tellers. Jane Davidson participated with Victor in the project entitled: ‘Street life of Cantonese Opera Singers’, and this case will provide the primary focus for the current discussion. The paper demonstrate that it is those personal motivations that allow participants to make a reflective turn to value aims and community objectives. Data included recording and analysing the biographies and working practices of the Cantonese opera singers alongside those of the project director and the principal researcher. Analysis showed how these stories impacted positively on the overall Artspace philosophy, and helped to shape subsequent work. Copyright © 2007 Common Ground, W. Jane Davidson, Ming Hoi Victor Lai.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-120
JournalThe International Journal of the Arts in Society
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2007


Davidson, J., & Lai, V. (2007). Shanghai street: Arts in and of a city. The International Journal of the Arts in Society, 1(7), 109-120.


  • Reflective practice
  • Biographical enquiry
  • Community arts
  • Cantonese opera
  • Hong Kong street life


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