It all began in the summer of 2001. The idea of a new arts
festival was on the drawing board. After rounds of discussion,
a decision was finally taken to set the theme on the fusion
of East-West cultures and Asian arts expressed in contemporary
style. Once the theme was decided, planning of the programme
ensued. For the following half of the year, our festival colleagues
read, watched and discussed close to a hundred documents,
programmes and concepts, weighing every possibility against
the festival theme. Work staggered, now stuck, now fluid.
A new arts festival emerged like an infant taking its first
steps, toddling and shuffling along.
Summer returned. All the festival programmes and events had
to be finalised and all the loose ends be tied up. Only when
we looked back on our planning did we realise that we had
stepped into a proposition, swinging between the tangible
and the intangible. Culture itself is a concept of concrete-abstract
duality. Cultures may mix at multi-dimensions and multi-levels
and the fusion may sublimate to bring about essential changes.
A proposition, so defined, is profound and broad. Moreover,
do Asian arts refer to the ethnic and traditional arts of
Asia, or contemporary artistic creations on the Asian art
scene, or even works of art of an Asian style on a wider,
international stage? And is modernism a Western form of artistic
expression or an approach whereby the works of earlier artists
are interpreted with the mind of a modern man? All these questions
had to be carefully considered and thoughtfully answered by
our colleagues involved in the project and our performing
Since the magnitude and depth projected by the festival theme
could be perceived and interpreted differently by each individual,
the room for discussion was immense. One of the interesting
discussions was about "Programme appeal." But the
reflections triggered by the discussion were even more thought-provoking.
What exactly is "Appeal"? For whom? Where? How?
With more questions raised, greater care was called for in
planning every detail of the festival programme. Another interesting
discussion was on the name of the festival, which was indeed
crucial for this newborn baby. "New Vision Arts Festival"
was no doubt an impressive name, but "how new" and
"at what level or dimension should the vision be"
were not so easy to pin down.
In asking questions and answering them, we kept on reminding
ourselves of the original intention behind the festival, that
is, to highlight the diversity of Hong Kong, the City of Life.
This threw light on even many questions. If a certain programme
is too demanding on its audience, or if another seems to be
too easily appreciated, they constitute the variety that is
per se to an arts festival that advocates diversity, especially
one taking place in a city as diverse as ours. Whether or
not this arts festival has a new vision is open to debate.
But do our audiences and festival participants have, or have
gained, new visions of their own? This is a more meaningful
From "diversity" to "fusion", from "metropolis"
to "individual," what exactly does this arts festival
pursue? Human experience tells that "fusion" is
often the prelude to "seeing the light" and it is
when one "sees the light" that one reaches freedom.
Over the years, buzzwords like "knowledge-based"
economy, "technological transfers" have come into
play. However, with knowledge and technology but without introspection
and re-creation, does Hong Kong have her uniqueness and will
her development be sustained? In this sense, aren't "seeing
the light" and "reaching freedom" the very
things that Hong Kong as well as its people need? It is our
hope that our festival artists, programme producers and the
general public, will together soar in the realm of art, enlightened
and unfettered, each with his own light ahead in a free land.
Senior Manager, Festivals Office
Leisure and Cultural Services Department