During the year under review, the LCSD continued to offer a wide range of quality cultural events, helping maintain Hong Kong’s status as Asia’s events capital. The array of programmes included a variety of exciting festivals and shows by local and international artists and audience-building activities. The department also manages many of Hong Kong’s leading performance venues.
Hong Kong Cultural Centre
Since it opened in 1989, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, managed by the LCSD, has been Hong Kong’s premier cultural venue. Capable of staging a wide range of performing arts events, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre houses a 2 019-seat Concert Hall, a 1 734-seat Grand Theatre and a Studio Theatre with a maximum seating capacity of 496. In 2012-13, 736 performances held there attracted about 668 000 people.
The Hong Kong Cultural Centre is the major venue for Hong Kong’s five big cultural events – the Hong Kong Arts Festival, the Hong Kong International Film Festival, the Chinese Opera Festival, the International Arts Carnival, and the Autumn Thematic Arts Festival. It is also a stage for many internationally acclaimed performing arts groups. In 2012-13 such groups included the Suzhou Kunqu Opera Theatre of Jiangsu Province, the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica from the Baltic States, U Theatre from Taiwan, the San Francisco Symphony, Shen Wei Dance Arts from the US, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the American Ballet Theatre, and the San Carlo Theatre, from Naples in Italy. Other attractions held at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre included opera productions of Carmen and La Traviata, and recitals by Krystian Zimerman, Yundi Li, Anne-Sophie Mutter, and Lang Lang.
Offering a panoramic view of Victoria Harbour, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre’s outdoor piazza is a popular place for spectacular events, such as the International Chinese New Year Night Parade and the Lunar New Year Lantern Carnival and Fireworks Display.
Hong Kong City Hall
The Hong Kong City Hall, which opened in 1962, was our first purpose-built civic centre. In 2009, the Bauhaus-style complex was designated a Grade 1 Historic Building. The Hong Kong City Hall has a 1 434-seat concert hall, a 463-seat theatre and a 590-square metre exhibition hall. Around 362 000 patrons attended 573 performances staged there in 2012-13.
Following an opening concert by world renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hong Kong City Hall continued the celebration of its 50th Anniversary with “The Golden Stage” commemorative exhibition and celebrity talks at the Exhibition Hall, and a number of outstanding performances such as the Famous Repertory of Six Famous Stars in Cantonese Opera and a concert by the Borodin Quartet from Russia. In the music chart ‘2012 Top Ten Music Headlines’ organised by RTHK Radio 4, this series of celebration programmes received the most votes from the public and the music sector. The Hong Kong City Hall’s important legacy as a cradle of the arts, and its ongoing role in promoting arts and culture in Hong Kong, is widely recognised in the community.
Other distinguished visiting artists and arts groups who performed at the venue included the National Theatre of China, the English Concert and the Wells Cathedral Choir from the UK, the Paco Pena Flamenco Dance Company from Spain, the Munich Chamber Orchestra from Germany, and individual performers Piotr Anderszewski, Javier Perianes, Hélène Grimaud and Maxim Rysanov.
The Hong Kong City Hall was also one of the main venues used for major arts festivals during the year.
Community Arts Facilities
Our range of arts facilities are focal points for cultural activities around Hong Kong. They 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. Most of them have been serving the community for many years.
A series of special programmes was organised in 2012 to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Tuen Mun Town Hall. Performances featured included PSY by Les 7 Doigts de la Main from Canada, Flamenco sin Fronteras by the Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company from Spain, An Operatic Showcase - A Sword of Loyalty presented by several leading Cantonese opera artists, as well as concerts featuring popular nostalgic songs and ballroom dancing performances. A fun day specially tailored for children, youngsters and families received a particularly enthusiastic response. This special anniversary occasion involved active participation by many community organisations and venue partners, offering in an interesting mix of exhibitions and performing arts programmes.
Our venue sponsorship scheme promotes and encourages the arts at grassroots level by giving those district arts groups organising cultural activities for the local community free use of our facilities. In 2012-13, over 100 community arts groups were sponsored in more than 620 activities, attracting over 115 000 people. Various independent organisations also hired our facilities for arts-related activities.
Support for Cantonese Opera
The Government is keen to preserve and develop Cantonese opera in Hong Kong. Given the high demand for performance venues in Hong Kong, the LCSD has put in place a priority hiring policy for professional Cantonese opera troupes. This gives them priority hiring of the Ko Shan Theatre, and priority booking for specific periods at five other major performance venues. The Yau Ma Tei Theatre, a new territory-wide venue, is the 14th performance venue of the LCSD. It accepts booking applications for Chinese opera and related activities only.
Built in 1930, the Yau Ma Tei Theatre is the only surviving pre-war cinema building in the urban area of Hong Kong. The Theatre closed down in 1998 and was accorded Grade 2 status by the Antiquities Advisory Board in the same year. The Theatre and the adjacent Grade 1 Red Brick Building have been revitalised, providing a 300-seat theatre and two function rooms dedicated to Chinese opera, and become a training and performance venue for budding Cantonese opera talents. Since its re-opening on 17 July 2012, more than 53 000 visitors have attended 297 performances at the Theatre.
Planned New Facility
The Government is currently developing performance venues of different sizes to meet the long-term development needs of Cantonese opera in Hong Kong. Scheduled for completion in late 2013 and due to open in late 2014 is the New Wing at the Ko Shan Theatre, which houses a 600-seat auditorium as well as rehearsal and training facilities for Cantonese opera artists and performing troupes. The venue will also serve as a base for Cantonese opera performances, experimental works, training and rehearsals.
Venue Partnership Scheme
With the aim to provide a supportive environment for sustainable development of the performing arts, a three-year Venue Partnership Scheme has been implemented since April 2009. The scheme aims to foster partnerships between venues and performing arts groups in ways that will enhance their image, expand their audience, optimise the use of the facilities, and encourage community involvement in the arts. The first round of the scheme was completed in March 2012, and the second round runs from April 2012 to March 2015. 21 venue partners, including individual groups, joint groups and consortia, are presently involved in organising various performing arts activities at 12 venues.
|(1) Hong Kong City Hall
|Hong Kong Sinfonietta
Hong Kong Repertory Theatre
|(2) Hong Kong Cultural Centre
|Hong Kong Philharmonic
Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra
Hong Kong Ballet
|(3) Kwai Tsing Theatre
|Chung Ying Theatre Company
W Theatre and Wind Mill Grass Theatre
|(4) Ngau Chi Wan Civic Centre
E-Side Dance Company
|(5) North District Town Hall
|Hong Kong Theatre Works
|(6) Sai Wan Ho Civic Centre
|The Absolutely Fabulous Theatre Connection
|(7) Sha Tin Town Hall
|The Cantonese Opera Advancement Association
Trinity Theatre and The Radiant Theatre
|(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 Experimental Theatre and Hong Kong
Young Talent Cantonese Opera Troupe
|(11) Yau Ma Tei Theatre
|The Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong
|(12) Yuen Long Theatre
|Hong Kong Performing Stage of Cantonese Opera
Venue partners are supported in various ways, such as by being given priority use of venue facilities, funding, enhanced publicity, and workspace. In 2012-13, the 21 venue partners presented 801 performances and engaged in 991 audience-building activities. Together they attracted some 762 000 spectators and participants.
Arts Administrator Trainee Scheme
The arts administrator trainee scheme was launched in 2010-11 with the aim of nurturing a pool of arts administrators to support the development of Hong Kong’s cultural “software”. The scheme is run by both the LCSD and its venue partners, comprising major as well as small- and medium-sized performing arts groups.
The LCSD’s trainees engage in a two-year programme to learn about venue operations, facility management, event promotion, and the organisation of performing arts programmes, carnivals and arts festivals. The number of trainees was increased from 13 to 18 in 2012.
Separately, the LCSD sponsored venue partners to engage trainees to learn about performing arts group management. Under this scheme, 21 trainees were engaged by 20 venue partners during the year under review.