The Board of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA or the Authority) held its 86th meeting today.

In the meeting, WKCDA’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Duncan Pescod, reported that since the last update, WKCDA had continued to make significant progress in project construction and the major construction projects – M+, the Lyric Theatre Complex and the Hong Kong Palace Museum – were on track.

Mr Pescod noted, however, that the recent events in Hong Kong had caused some disruption to the progress of the projects, mainly related to transportation issues, which had an impact on labour resources on some of the worst days. He said the Authority had also experienced problems regarding the delivery of concrete. Every effort had been taken to minimise the impact and WKCDA was monitoring closely the developments, said Mr Pescod. He expressed his appreciation to WKCDA colleagues and construction partners for their efforts to keep the projects on course under these difficult circumstances.

Works on the Lyric Theatre Complex project continued at pace. WKCDA has now completed the construction of about 75% of the lowest basement slab of the Lyric Theatre Complex and the extended basement area. The construction of the superstructure will follow in 2020. The summary of the report relating to the cofferdam leakage incident was presented last week to the Legislative Council Joint Subcommittee to Monitor the Implementation of the West Kowloon Cultural District Project.

The M+ project is entering the final stages of mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) installation prior to the statutory inspections, which are expected to begin in January 2020.  Air-conditioning has now been switched on in five floors of the Conservation and Storage Facilities to start to dry out the building and to stabilise the environment. Construction progress on the Hong Kong Palace Museum continues to go smoothly.

Mr Pescod was pleased to report that West Kowloon Cultural District ’s inaugural Freespace Jazz Fest was successfully held from 9 to 10 November 2019 at Freespace and in the Art Park, featuring an impressive line-up of jazz performers from Hong Kong and around the world. There were both ticketed and free programmes.

The festival featured international jazz luminaries, as well as established and emerging talent from Hong Kong. It also included a wide range of activities, including Jazz for Kids, film screenings, meet-the-artists sessions, jazz workshops, jam sessions for professional musicians, a jazz photography exhibition, and a weekend market, offering a great mix of handicraft booths and art stalls. Nearly 14,000 visitors enjoyed a wonderful weekend of jazz.

Another outdoor event, Festive Waterfront #City Contemporary Dance Festival (CCDF) 2019, was successfully held on 23 and 24 November 2019, offering dance performances and providing a warm, relaxing experience for visitors on two sunny afternoons. The event was co-presented by the West Kowloon Cultural District and the City Contemporary Dance Company (CCDC) and is part of the CCDC in Residence programme, which was held from 13 to 24 November 2019. The programme included ticketed indoor dance performances, VR dance film screenings, and a symposium and presentations in the Box, the Room and the Studio, in Freespace. The outdoor weekend event nicely concluded the residence programme with performances on the Freespace Terrace for the first time and the Art Park’s small lawn. The combination of intimacy and openness, which provided space to relax, reflect and breathe deeply was exceptional. In addition to the performances, there was a weekend market along the harbourfront.

Mr Pescod reported in the meeting that the next exhibition at the M+ Pavilion would be the Sigg Prize 2019 exhibition. The Sigg Prize is a biennial award that recognises outstanding practices of artists born or working in the Greater China region. The prize is a platform to highlight and promote on an international scale the important work and discussions taking place in Hong Kong. For this inaugural edition, an international jury selected six short-listed artists to participate in the Sigg Prize 2019 exhibition before the winner is announced in March 2020. The six artists are Hu Xiaoyuan, Liang Shuo, Lin Yilin, Shen Xin, Tao Hui, and Samson Young. The exhibition will run from 7 December 2019 to 13 April 2020. The programmes held in conjunction with the exhibition include an M+ Live Art performance, conversations with the artists, teachers’ private viewings, and a series of thematic and curator-led tours.

Other good news shared by Mr Pescod during the meeting was that the Xiqu Centre Tea House Theatre Experience had recently received the gold award for ‘Excellence in Lifestyle and Entertainment’ at the Marketing Excellence Awards, recognising WKCDA’s efforts and creativity in promoting the art of Cantonese opera in a stylish, contemporary way to attract new audiences, who seek lifestyle entertainment or value a unique cultural experience. The Marketing and Customer Experience Department created fashion photography and quality visuals featuring our very own Tea House Rising Stars Troupe to demonstrate their youth and energy, and marketed the programme as a lifestyle entertainment experience to a young audience new to xiqu. The Authority also introduced the experience to the travel trade and tourism partners and received very positive feedback.

The Authority was also delighted to announce that its ‘Be Bold!’ Freespace campaign, with the striking tape design visual across all marketing channels, won the silver award for ‘Excellence in Social Media’ at the same event. The Marketing and Customer Experience Department created a social media campaign with the new branding, which reflects the value of Freespace: contemporary, avant-garde and boundary-pushing. The design plays with the irony that tape is typically used to create special boundaries on space and limit freedom. To mark the Freespace opening season, we invited over 230 local and international performing artists to share their creative visions with the tape, and posted them on social media during the opening week of Freespace. We also gave out reels of tape to our audience to allow them to participate in the creation of what Freespace means to them and engage them through social media. The campaign helped generate awareness of the venue and a creative footprint on social media within a short period of time during the opening months.

Remarks

About the West Kowloon Cultural District
The West Kowloon Cultural District is one of the largest and most ambitious cultural projects in the world. Its vision is to create a vibrant new cultural quarter for Hong Kong on forty hectares of reclaimed land located alongside Victoria Harbour. With a varied mix of theatres, performance spaces, and museums, the West Kowloon Cultural District will produce and host world-class exhibitions, performances and cultural events, providing twenty-three hectares of public open space, including a two-kilometre waterfront promenade.