Cultural Services

Performing Arts

In 2008-09, the Department continued to fulfil its commitment to the provision of quality cultural performances commensurate with Hong Kong's status as Asia's world city. Throughout the year, we presented a rich, diverse and innovative range of programmes featuring local and internationally renowned artists, from thematic traditional festival events for mass participation to audience-building activities at the community and school levels. The Department also manages quality cultural performance facilities, such as the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, which are the cultural foci of the local community and attract many visitors with a colourful array of cultural events.

As the territory's premier cultural venue, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre welcomes audiences and visiting performers from all parts of the world. It is a cradle for the development of the arts in Hong Kong.

Committee on Performing Arts

The Department gives its full support to the Committee on Performing Arts and its three working groups on programme promotion and audience development policies, arts education and venue hiring policies by providing professional input and relevant information for discussion at meetings. To follow up on the Committee's Recommendation Report (I), the Department last year established the Committee on Venue Partnership to implement the Venue Partnership Scheme. It continues to work with the Programme and Development Committee and the six Art Form Panels to formulate strategies for programme presentation and promotion, to identify and support the development of local budding and small-scale performing arts groups, and to review programme planning and resource allocation policies.

Hong Kong Cultural Centre

Situated on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre has been fulfilling its mission as the territory's premier arts centre since its opening in 1989.

Catering for a wide variety of performing arts activities, the Centre comprises a 2 019-seat Concert Hall, a 1 734-seat Grand Theatre and a versatile Studio Theatre with a maximum capacity of 496. A total of 806 performances that attracted more than 761 000 patrons were staged in 2008-09. The Centre was the major venue for Hong Kong's four annual large-scale festivals, namely, the Hong Kong Arts Festival, the Hong Kong International Film Festival, the International Arts Carnival and the New Vision Arts Festival. It also served as the welcoming platform for the renowned visiting performing groups that showcased their masterful performances in 2008-09, including the Royal Ballet UK, the Peking Opera Theatre of Shanghai and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Other memorable performances during the year included recitals by Angela Hewitt, Leif Ove Andsnes, Evgeny Kissin, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Anne Sofie von Otter, the musical Cinderella, the Western operas Don Carlo and Werther, and concerts of Yo-Yo Ma performing with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra.

Thousands of music lovers enjoy a memorable evening featuring a performance by the Los Angeles Philharmonic relayed live at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza.

With the panoramic view of Victoria Harbour as its backdrop, the Centre's outdoor piazza is an equally popular spot for major spectacular functions, including the Launching Ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay in Hong Kong, International Museum Day, the Hong Kong Olympic Piazza, Cantonese Opera Day and the International Chinese New Year Night Parade.

The Young Peacocks Cantonese Opera Troupe of Zhanjiang delight the audience during the opening of Cantonese Opera Day 2008.

Hong Kong City Hall

Opened in March 1962, Hong Kong City Hall was the first multi-purpose cultural centre built for the Hong Kong community. Its typical Bauhaus architecture has become a Central District landmark.

Hong Kong City Hall has played host to thousands of outstanding local and overseas artists and arts groups over the past four decades. It offers a window through which audiences can appreciate a diverse range of performing arts.

City Hall houses a 1 434-seat Concert Hall, a 463-seat Theatre, a 111-seat Recital Hall, a 590-square-metre Exhibition Hall and a 260-square-metre Exhibition Gallery. In 2008-09, about 407 000 patrons attended 695 performances staged at these facilities. Distinguished artists and arts groups visiting the venue during the year included the Aracaladanza (Spain), Fabio Biondi with Europa Galante, the King's Singers (UK), the McCoy Tyner Quartet, the National Dance Company of Korea, the Sadao Watanabe Group, Ton Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, the Yang Opera Troupe of Jiangsu, the Zehetmair Quartet, Sayaka Shoji and Sergio Tiempo. City Hall was also one of the main venues for major arts festivals.

Community Arts Facilities

Hong Kong also boasts a range of other arts facilities throughout its territory that serve as focal points for cultural activities in individual communities. These include larger venues, such as the Sha Tin, Tsuen Wan and Tuen Mun town halls and the Kwai Tsing, Yuen Long and Ko Shan theatres, and smaller venues, such as the Sai Wan Ho, Sheung Wan, Ngau Chi Wan and Tai Po civic centres and the North District Town Hall.

The Sha Tin Town Hall auditorium is renowned for its excellent facilities, including unobstructed audience sightlines, warm ambience and sophisticated technical capabilities, and wide range of performances.

The Department's continued endeavours to enrich its performing arts facilities and to address the needs of the local arts community were vividly demonstrated by the inauguration of the City Art Square at Sha Tin Town Hall Plaza and the Black Box Theatre at Kwai Tsing Theatre in 2008.

Donated and designed by the Sun Hung Kai Properties Charitable Fund Limited, the City Art Square is a core part of the beautification project of Sha Tin Town Hall Plaza and was designed to serve the multiple purposes of improving the environment, developing arts and culture, and promoting the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Embellishing the Square are original and uniquely styled sculptures and art installations by 19 world-renowned overseas, Mainland and local artists and designers, including Zaha Hadid Architects, Vivienne Tam, Dennis Oppenheim, Zhang Yu, Barrie Ho and Mimmo Paladino, amongst others.

Dancing Landscape is one of the sculptures installed in the City Art Square at Sha Tin Town Hall Plaza. This sculpture adopts traditional Chinese gardening concepts and combines them with the Olympics 2008 emblem ------- Dancing Beijing ------- to convey a sense of movement, energy and vitality.

To meet the growing demand for venues to hold small-scale and experimental theatrical productions by local and district-based theatre groups, the Department transformed the Exhibition Gallery of Kwai Tsing Theatre into a Black Box Theatre. Opened in May 2008, with a maximum seating capacity of 144 and featuring black walls and a high ceiling, movable stage lights and flexible seating configurations, the new 350-square-metre Black Box Theatre offers a new theatrical experience.

We are Not Strangers, was one of the programmes commissioned to commemorate the inauguration of the new Black Box Theatre at Kwai Tsing Theatre in May 2008. It demonstrates how intimate theatre can be, allowing audiences and performers to share in a creative work of art.

To promote and encourage the arts at the grassroots level, the district arts bodies that organise cultural activities for the local community can now enjoy the free use of these facilities through venue sponsorship. In 2008-09, around 110 community arts groups were offered sponsorship for a total of 672 activities that served more than 130 000 people. Various independent organisations also frequently hire the ancillary facilities for arts-related activities.

Support for Cantonese Opera

It is the Government's policy to support the development of Cantonese opera in Hong Kong. To address the concerns of the Cantonese Opera Advisory Committee, which was established by the Home Affairs Bureau in 2004, in regard to the high level of demand from the Cantonese opera sector for performance venues, the Department introduced a series of booking measures for Cantonese opera troupes. These measures include a special advance booking service at the Ko Shan Theatre and priority booking for specific periods at major performance venues and other performing arts venues in the New Territories.

With the support of the Sheung Shui Rural Committee, the Cantonese opera The Monkey King Thrice Beats the Bony Ghost was staged in a traditional bamboo theatre in Ho Sheung Heung, Sheung Shui, as part of the Appreciation of Cantonese Opera at Bamboo Theatre programme.

To further address the sector's concerns over the shortage of venues for performance, training and practice, the Department has decided to convert the Yau Ma Tei Theatre and the Red Brick Building into a Xiqu Activity Centre and to construct an Annex Building for the Ko Shan Theatre. The two new venues are targeted to be inaugurated around 2012 and 2013, respectively.

Venue Partnership Scheme

To provide a supportive environment for the sustainable development of the performing arts, the Venue Partnership Scheme was fully implemented in April 2009 and will have a term of three years. Under the Scheme, 20 venue partners, including individual groups, joint groups and consortia, are engaged in organising performing arts activities of varied art forms at 11 performing arts venues. The aim of this Scheme is to foster partnership between venues and performing arts groups with the primary objectives of building up the artistic image and character of the former, enlarging the audience base, optimising facility usage, encouraging community involvement in the development of the arts and contributing to the healthy development of the performing arts scene.

Venue Partners
(1) Hong Kong City Hall

Hong Kong Sinfonietta
Hong Kong Repertory Theatre
(2) Hong Kong
Cultural Centre

Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra
Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra
Hong Kong Ballet
Zuni Icosahedron
(3) Kwai Tsing Theatre

Chung Ying Theatre Company
W Theatre and Wind Mill Grass Theatre
(4) Ngau Chi Wan
Civic Centre

Whole Theatre
E-Side Dance Company
(5) North District
Town Hall
Harmonic Theatre
(6) Sai Wan Ho
Civic Centre

The Absolutely Fabulous Theatre Connection
(7) Sha Tin Town Hall

The Cantonese Opera Advancement
Hong Kong Children's Arts Alliance
(8) Sheung Wan
Civic Centre
Perry Chiu Experimental Theatre
(9) Tsuen Wan
Town Hall

Hong Kong Dance Company
Ming Ri Institute for Arts Education

(10) Tuen Mun Town Hall

Spring-Time Chinese Opera and Hon Fung Creative Chinese Opera

(11) Yuen Long Theatre

Chung Ying Theatre Company

The Hong Kong Repertory Theatre launched its partnership with Hong Kong City Hall by staging the drama production Caligula, during which the actors paraded with the audience through the foyer to the Theatre, symbolising their grand entry to the powerful Roman Empire.

The Pirate Party kicked off a series of programmes and activities held by the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, which has become a venue partner of Hong Kong City Hall, thus providing the audience with an entertaining and memorable evening.

To facilitate the smooth implementation of the Scheme, the various venue partners began organising activities at their respective venues in the second quarter of 2008 and have since presented 340 stage performances and 253 educational, promotional and audience-building activities with total attendance of about 363 000.

Support to the venue partners is given in various forms, including priority use of venues, provision of free work stations, enhanced publicity arrangements and additional funding to cover part of the costs for organising activities and related production, staff and administrative costs.
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