Teen Talk 5: Local Artists Need Support

By: Cindy Kim

Hong Kong is often called an international city, and rightly so. It draws in people from all countries and walks of life, foreign troupes coming in for a week long run, all kinds which ultimately can only enrich the arts scene here. But mostly British expats.

As someone who has a nebulous plan to stay in HK for the near future, hopefully I’ll continue to see shows and performances when I can. So even if I can’t directly contribute to the arts community, I can at least help pay for it, because it deserves all the support it can get, as well as all the artists, dancers, actors and singers involved.

It can hardly be said that the Hong Kong government does not support cultural and artistic development – it allocates US 300 million per year to this task, or 1% of total government spending. To be fair, they are spending a fair amount for new arts facilities, like the 8 billion USD investment that is the West Kowloon Cultural District - the largest arts and cultural project to date. But surprise, it isn’t without its problems, particularly regarding the lack of Hong Kong people in any positions of importance, which isn’t a reassuring sign.

Also considering it was first proposed to draw more tourists in, it is entirely possible this expensive project won’t create a new opportunity to enable growth of Hong Kong culture, instead just import it in like we do literally everything else. Hong Kong is known more widely as a financially driven, rather than for any cultural offerings.

There isn’t really a widespread interest from the public to watch performances, and even then their interest lies in huge productions from abroad, not basement level fringe club. Which I think is a real shame. I’ve noticed that I go more often to the fringe club than HKAPA, but I’m not going to fall into the trap of claiming the local indie scene is better than the mainstream productions. It probably just means I’m not interested in glitzy productions and tickets that are more expensive. Either way, the Hong Kong performing arts scene needs more support for local groups before there’s room for growth or expansion.

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