What is changing about Hong Kong?
Hong Kong is such an accessible and easy city to travel to and to explore. It is also one of the safest cities in the world, which offers a huge sense of reassurance to visitors from around the globe. The 56m visitors we welcome each year come for the amazing energy and vibrant buzz of this city, which is really like no other urban metropolis on Earth. While it’s known to be an efficient city, with transparent practises in business and a solid reputation as a global financial hub, the city is shifting towards a more culture and arts focus. With the arts scene becoming more world-class and less niche, districts such as Wong Chuk Hang and Sham Shui Po are getting a fresh new look, establishing arts at a local level, and promoting spaces for artists to work and learn. We have a superlative spread of arts institutions coming to Hong Kong, at the upcoming West Kowloon Cultural District, together with the credibility we have been building with both Art Basel in Hong Kong, and the newer fair in parallel, Art Central. Art brings passion, creativity and a cosmopolitan outlook to the city – and art belongs to everyone, so by the time world-class arts venues such as M+ and Tai Kwun open in the next few years, we anticipate a massive, pent-up demand.
Where would you direct someone with eclectic taste and a love for music?
Hong Kong has a dynamic concert scene and the Hong Kong Arts Festival plays a huge role in bringing a varied and interesting programme of classical concerts by global orchestras, ballet, opera and stage productions to Hong Kong. For avant-garde music lovers, Clockenflap is shaping up as the city’s go-to annual music festival.
What is your artistic or cultural highlight of the moment?
I believe that Hong Kong’s heritage and festivals are like no other. We celebrate our festivals each year with distinct colour and unique festivities. In January or February, Hong Kong celebrates Chinese New Year with a huge, 23-minute-long firework display that illuminates the entire Victoria Harbour. There are amazing parades in Kowloon, with the city lit up in celebration, and an exciting atmosphere that permeates every occasion. We have other vibrant festivals such as Dragon Boat Festival in May and the Mid-Autumn Festival in August on the lunar calendar; and Christmas. This fills our city’s calendar with engaging events that are bursting with a signature uniqueness and fun accessible to all.
On a more permanent footing, what is your most beloved art fixture in the city?
Asia Society has really paved the way for arts in this city, as an international institution that has considerably contributed to steering the global arts phenomenon towards Hong Kong in an in-depth, relevant and substantive way.