For centuries, Hong Kong has been a cultural melting pot where East meets West. Under the 14th National Five-Year Plan (2021-25) of China, Hong Kong will play a key role as an international art and cultural hub.
Traditionally, Hong Kong has strong fundamentals in trading art. According to research by ArtTactic, it has become the world’s second-largest contemporary art trading centre in 2020, with the World Cities Cultural Forum also noting that the total number of imports and exports of artworks, pieces from collectors and antiques in Hong Kong have doubled in only three years from 2017, reaching HK$33.6 billion.
Can Hong Kong do more than just trading art?
Long known as Asia’s world city, Hong Kong is in an ideal position to promote traditional Chinese culture to the world.
Hong Kong Palace Museum
Hong Kong’s world-class infrastructure in art and culture is an edge. The newly launched Hong Kong Palace Museum, for example, exhibits over nine hundred works of art, in which some have never been publicly displayed. The museum feeds the appetite of international and local audiences for authentic Chinese culture backed by sophisticated history. The museum is now expecting 1.5 to 2.2 million annual visitors and the number will go up as Hong Kong is gradually easing its pandemic-related travel restrictions.
The Xiqu Centre is another prime example. Xiqu Centre is one-of-its-kind world-class Cantonese opera venue, holding venues capable of seating more than a thousand people and even theatres built like traditional Chinese tea houses.
Tea House Theatre Experience, Xiqu Centre
Both the Hong Kong Palace Museum and the Xiqu Centre are situated in the West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong’s major cultural and arts hub, in which the wide range of venues makes the exhibitions of different forms of arts and performances accessible by a wider base of the audiences, both at home and abroad.
Meanwhile, the international linkages and reputation Hong Kong has acquired allow easy transformation and innovation in arts and culture that suits the global trend. International art galleries and exhibitions are frequently organised in Hong Kong, and the renowned art fair Art Basel has chosen Hong Kong as its destination of the Fair’s Asia edition, demonstrating how the Hong Kong arts sector is globally recognised.
Tech savvy local artists and practitioners have been experimental in the world’s latest creative arts trends, such as digital art using non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Asia’s first Digital Art Fairis also housed in Hong Kong.
Jacky Tsai immersive room, Digital Art Fair 2022
Given its world-class infrastructure and international reputation, Hong Kong is competent for the role of an East-meets-West Centre for International Cultural Exchange. However, the city needs a new generation of cultural talents, especially those with expertise and connections to the Greater Bay Area, the southern part of China that consists of nine Mainland cities and two special administrative regions. Given the variety of its culture and heritage, GBA offers new potential for Hong Kong to show the new face of China to the world.
Equally important is for the Hong Kong government to nurture local talent. Projects for arts and culture education, such as the Learning and Engagement programme of the Hong Kong Palace Museum, should be firmly supported as a mean to introduce the public to the sophistication of Chinese culture and to provoke their interest through immersive cultural experiences.
Furthermore, talents should be given opportunities to hone their skills and showcase their achievements. Hence, the Culture Commission leading development in the arts and cultural industry must be consisted of people having genuine knowledge of and appreciation for arts so that the development of the cultural sector would best support Hong Kong’s special position in promoting local and international cultural exchanges.
Looking ahead, with the support from the Chinese Central Government under the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), Hong Kong will become a stage where Chinese culture and the world infuses.
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