The Board of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA or the Authority) held its 87th meeting today. In the meeting, WKCDA’s Chief Executive Officer Mr Duncan Pescod reported on the latest development of the West Kowloon Cultural District (West Kowloon or the District).
Works on the Lyric Theatre Complex and the Integrated Basement project are moving ahead well. The construction of around 85% of the lowest basement slab has been completed, with around 10% of the Excavation and Lateral Support (ELS) system strutting already removed. Construction of the superstructure is also gathering pace and around 50 columns have been cast between the basement slab and podium deck above. In addition, some 40% of the Vibration Isolation Springs (VIS) have been installed.
The M+ project is approaching the statutory inspection stage. The Authority targets to secure the occupation permit by the second quarter of 2020, which would allow the museum to open 9 to 12 months later. The adjacent and integrated Conservation and Storage Facilities are also largely completed. Meanwhile, the construction progress on the Hong Kong Palace Museum (HKPM) is progressing well and the superstructure is now up to the second of the seven storeys of the building.
The final phase of the Art Park site will soon open to the public at the end of January 2020. This is the large area of lawn to the west of M+, running in parallel to a further 50 metres of completed Waterfront Promenade. This will allow the establishment of a running loop, enhancing the enjoyment for the growing population of runners in the Art Park.
In the Art Park, there is a variety of food and beverage (F&B) outlets, including a coffee and gin bar with customised pairing services (REST), a pet-friendly cafe providing specialty coffee, delicious snacks and take-away doggie treats (Hooman), a western casual restaurant with a wide selection of European favourites (Café Boheme) and a restaurant offering Chinese fusion food (FAM). Two more outlets, including a Japanese style café at Waterfront Promenade (Wabi Sabi Coffee Kissa), and an Asian seafood cuisine restaurant above the Double Edge (PANO) will open soon.
Mr Pescod was pleased to report that Award-winning British choreographer Wayne McGregor and his company opened the 2020 calendar year at Freespace with the Asian premiere of Autobiography, which ran from 10 to 12 January 2020. This production, co-commissioned by Freespace with other leading international venues and festivals, is part of a long-term and multi-faceted partnership with Company Wayne McGregor and Hong Kong’s dance, and dance education community. The collaboration between West Kowloon and Studio Wayne McGregor began in 2014 when the Authority co-operated with the British Council to bring McGregor and his creative learning team to Hong Kong. This took place in 2015, when he conducted a series of dance workshops and public forums. In 2017, WKCDA entered into a three-year partnership with Studio Wayne McGregor which included the co-commissioning of Autobiography. The work’s Asian premiere marked a major milestone for this on-going artistic collaboration and reflected WKCDA’s commitment to comprehensive and holistic programming that contributes to Hong Kong’s performing arts ecology in diverse ways.
Mr Pescod also reported that Hong Kong Ballet will take over Freespace with a four-day programme of indoor and outdoor ballet experiences for audiences of all ages in February 2020. Hong Kong Cool: Ballet x Fashion features world premieres by three dance makers with fashion designers, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s award-winning work, Sombrerisimo, as well as the Asian premiere screening of an exciting new dance film directed and choreographed by renowned London-based choreographer, director and filmmaker Corey Baker. Shot on location around Hong Kong, the film also features Hong Kong Ballet’s artists. Ballet Classics for Children: The Sleeping Beauty is a one-hour abridged version of the full-length classic. Children will be enchanted by its innovative blend of storytelling, dance and audience interaction. Tickets for the two programmes are now on sale.
In addition, on 3 and 4 April 2020, WKCDA will bring Ryuichi Sakamoto feat. Shiro Takatani: dis·play, Ryuichi Sakamoto’s unique brand of electronic music performance, to Freespace. By combining his electronic music with visual compositions from visual director Shiro Takatani, this legendary Japanese musician will provide Hong Kong fans with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience his one-of-a-kind audio-visual work at Freespace. Tickets for Sakamoto’s three performances have already sold out.
To further illuminate and offer insight into the artist, Sakamoto’s performances will be complemented by a host of activities including free-to-attend film screenings with a post-screening talk, giving audiences a holistic experience of his exceptional artistic attainments and an understanding of his inspiring music journey.
WKCDA invited Members of the Legislative Council (LegCo) Joint Subcommittee to Monitor the Implementation of the West Kowloon Cultural District Project (JSC) to join a site visit on 13 January 2020. Nine LegCo Members from JSC and others joined WKCDA’s management to take a hard hat tour to the construction sites of the Lyric Theatre Complex, M+ and HKPM, to see the latest development of these projects. They also got a taste of experience of the Tea House Theatre performance and visited the Grand Theatre at the Xiqu Centre and Freespace to experience West Kowloon’s world-class performing arts facilities in person. The visit ended with a walk to the Waterfront Promenade to see the various F&B outlets in operation along the waterfront. Mr Pescod hopes that there will be more opportunities for LegCo Members to come to West Kowloon to enjoy the wonderful productions, relax in the Art Park and eat, drink and be merry in the increasing number of F&B outlets.
Mr Pescod concluded his report with some good news. China State Construction Engineering (Hong Kong) Limited, the main contractor for the HKPM building, received the Gold Award in the Green Management Award – Project Management (Large Corporation) category at the Hong Kong Green Awards 2019. The Xiqu Centre also received the Gold Award in the category of Best Infrastructure Development at the 2019 MIPIM Asia Awards.
On programming, Wenguang Explores the Valley, the second experimental Cantonese opera production commissioned by the Xiqu Centre, premiered in Beijing in November 2019. Performed as part of the Fourth Beijing New Arts and Culture Outstanding Theatre Showcase series, the work was recognised with the Best Play award in the Contemporary Small Theatre – Xiqu category, while co-director, co-playwright and actor Keith Lai also received the Best Actor award in the category for his performance. Wenguang Explores the Valley will be staged at the Xiqu Centre later this year.
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.