When event venues shut down globally during the pandemic, people flocked online in record numbers to satisfy their deep craving for art and culture. As the world cautiously looks to resume international travel and bring back events, it is fitting that art is a driving force to make this happen, with Hong Kong paving the way in the hope of safely staging large-scale events again.
In May, the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) rolled out the ‘Arts in Hong Kong’ campaign to promote a series of major events, in both physical and digital format, organised by fair organisers and cultural institutions around town. It ensures that audiences can reconnect with art and the vitality of Hong Kong, whether here in person or abroad.
Safely hosting major international events
After an absence of more than two years because of the pandemic, Art Basel is officially scheduled to take place from 21 to 23 May at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC). More than 100 galleries from Asia, Europe and the Americas have confirmed their participation. In addition, Art Central will run concurrently at the HKCEC for the first time, and is free to attend with registration. The annual French May will continue to offer cultural entertainment, with over 100 events running from 1 May to 30 June.
To ensure that all fair participants have a stress-free experience, best-practice health and safety protocols will be followed, including mask-wearing, timed entry, reduced capacity, wider aisles and regular cleaning.
Art events that defy borders and barriers
Art has long had the power to break down boundaries, and unite and inspire people. Thanks to the depth of its imagination and creativity, Hong Kong’s dynamic arts community has nimbly pivoted to offer hybrid physical and virtual events for people around the world.
In addition to Art Basel, which will launch a new digital initiative, ‘Art Basel Live: Hong Kong’, in parallel with the physical show to amplify its international visibility, fairs that have adopted the hybrid format include Art Central and Yim Tin Tsai Arts Festival 2021. While Hong Kong Arts Festival’s PLUS programme is featuring a diverse line-up of online and in-venue experiences, the soon-to-be-opened West Kowloon Cultural District’s M+ museum is offering online movie screenings on demand.
HKTB gets in on the creative, interactive fun
Actively contributing to Hong Kong’s art revival, the HKTB created a dedicated campaign website, (www.discoverhongkong.com/Arts), which is a one-stop platform providing essential information about ‘Arts in Hong Kong’ and introducing online showcases, art itineraries, an event calendar, artsy offers, interviews with art insiders, and more.
In the online showcases, curated virtual experiences, provided by both international fairs and local events, are all at the fingertips of viewers, regardless of where they are located. It also features an interactive microfilm presented by two local celebrities – multidisciplinary artist Ivana Wong and director Kearen Pang – at some of the city’s coolest attractions, including Tai Kwun, The Mills and the West Kowloon Cultural District.
While we wait for international travel to resume, the wealth of virtual experiences on offer once again highlights Hong Kong’s diverse wealth of cultural treasures and underscores the city’s ability to remain agile in the face of unprecedented disruption.