Opinion | Let’s make March ‘Hong Kong Art Month’ – cialisdfr
Opinion |  Let’s make March ‘Hong Kong Art Month’
Opinion |  Let’s make March ‘Hong Kong Art Month’

Art and culture can shape the essence of a city, strengthening its soft power and enhancing its ability to attract visitors from around the world. The benefits that the arts industry can bring to Hong Kong and the city’s reputation globally are intangible but potentially huge and sustainable.

This becomes clearly focused this Marchwith our calendar full of events, exhibitions, installations and other attractions that attract thousands of visitors and give much-needed support to businesses that rely on the tourist dollar.
The inaugural Hong Kong International cultural meeting which just took place in the West Kowloon Cultural District, attracted more than 1,000 visionaries and leaders from the global arts and culture sector and helped put Hong Kong on the map as a growing cultural hub.

Detractors will say that spending on arts and culture is frivolity and diversion, an unnecessary expense in a world struggling to balance budgets and provide for citizens’ basic needs. But what delegates at this week’s summit and various events around the city are showing is that arts and culture can revitalize cities and help them thrive in significant and surprising ways.

As the West Kowloon Cultural District emerged, with the opening of the M+ in 2021 and Hong Kong Palace Museum in 2022, synergies were created which in turn led to more art events, exhibitions and performances.

We’ve seen a flurry of new exhibition spaces and galleries, making Hong Kong’s art scene perhaps more exciting than ever and helping to elevate people’s perception of a city that’s still working hard to rebuild its reputation.

“Portrait of Song Emperor Huizong” is on display in the current exhibition of historical Chinese figures by Ming Dynasty artists at the Palace Museum of Hong Kong. Photo: Eugene Lee

These are the synergies that Hong Kong can unleash when all stakeholders work together in a concerted way, organizing quality exhibitions and events combined with art trade, cultural exchange and networking opportunities.

Visitors coming to Hong Kong this month, from artists, museum directors and collectors to journalists, critics and tourists, will experience for themselves the unique cultural flavor of the city, combining East and West. And the world will hear that Hong Kong is very much alive and fast – a vibrant, culturally rich city with more to offer than ever before.

Since the opening of the West Kowloon Cultural District and its cluster of world-class venues, various players in the arts sector, public and private, local and overseas, have sought opportunities for collaboration that will in turn enrich Hong Kong’s cultural offerings.

Will the premium summit put Hong Kong on the global cultural map?

In fact, over the weekend the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority signed memorandums of understanding with more than 20 leading international cultural institutions. This not only marks an important gain in the global reputation of the West Kowloon Cultural District, but will also give impetus to new joint ventures that will shift Hong Kong into the limelight and make the city’s cultural tapestry even richer.
The cultural summit was organized as a key international event of Hong Kong Art Week, which this year takes place on a larger scale amid a greater focus on art and cultural events in the city. More generally, in recent years March has rightfully earned its unofficial label of “arts month.”
A view of Art Basel at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center on March 23 last year. The 2024 edition will include more exhibitors. Photo: Elson Lee
The 2024 edition of Art Basel Hong Kong will feature 243 galleries from 40 countries and territories, with a 37 percent increase in exhibitors compared to 2023, bringing a welcome a return to the pre-pandemic scale of the show.
Art lovers can enjoy an extensive list of artworks from Asia’s most innovative galleries at Art Central, while HKwalls 2024 features works by some of the world’s best street artists. And Continuouslythe installation of luminous ovoids in Tamar by the amazing Japanese teamLab has set Hong Kong harbor – and Instagram – alight.

I’m really excited about what we’re seeing in Hong Kong this month and the potential that art and culture have for the future of our city. It’s time to build on the great things going on and turn our unofficial arts month into an official, well-supported annual event that will attract the engines of arts and culture every March and get people talking about our city as a new and a vibrant hotspot for cultural tourism.

Betty Fung is the Chief Executive Officer of the West Kowloon Cultural District

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