BEIJING, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- China's government has announced it will finance public libraries, art galleries and cultural centers to allow them to open for free to visitors.
The government would allocate 1.8 billion yuan (274 million U.S. dollars) from the central budget this year to allow institutions to have free entry, said Zhang Shaochun, Vice Minister of Finance, at a national videophone conference of central and local government culture officials, Friday.
The budget would help libraries, art galleries and cultural centers to pay staff and carry out basic public cultural programs, Zhang said.
The central government would also subsidize basic public services by local culture organizations, including those in cities and counties in less developed central and western areas, he said.
City-level culture organizations would get 500,000 yuan in subsidies this year, and those at county level 200,000 yuan.
Public libraries, art galleries and cultural centers at provincial level would get funding from provincial financial authorities, he said.
By the end of this year, there will be no charge for visitors to enter public art galleries at state and provincial level. By the end of 2012, all public art galleries will also have free entry, said a joint statement by the ministries of culture and finance last week.
All the public libraries and cultural centers across the country will be open to visitors for free this year too, the statement said.
The move came after the government offered free access to museums and memorial halls in 2008.