The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) held its 2019 Annual Press Conference today at the Xiqu Centre, the first major performing arts venue recently opened. The WKCDA leadership team said that the critical acclaim of the Xiqu Centre and the increased global authority of M+ shows that West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) will become one of the world’s most vibrant arts and culture hubs. There are now five venues under construction at the District, scheduled for opening over the next five years. The next venue, Freespace, will come into operation in June 2019.

Over the last 12 months, WKCD achieved key milestones for both performing and visual arts. The first major performing arts venue, the Xiqu Centre, opened to sell-out performances and positive audience feedback. M+ launched the Sigg Prize, which recognises outstanding artistic practice in the Greater China region. M+ made significant acquisitions such as the Archigram Archive.

The District is fast establishing itself on the international stage as a place to collaborate, learn and create all forms of visual and performing arts, from M+ curation of the Venice Biennale with the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC), to Freespace’s ongoing artist development exchanges between Hong Kong dance artists and those in Europe and Asia Pacific.

Mr Duncan Pescod, Chief Executive Officer of WKCDA said, “WKCD represents Hong Kong’s commitment to the arts. We have not wavered in our vision to provide quality culture and entertainment whilst becoming a hub for attracting and nurturing creative talent. I’m inspired with our progress. We have both great venues and thoughtful programming, which is the reason why we become a world-renowned arts and culture hub. With such a great launch for the Xiqu Centre and international recognition for our M+ programme, we are firmly on track to achieving our ambitions. We will continue to provide the space, expertise to enhance cooperation, cultivate appreciation and encourage wider participation in the arts through our projects and venues.”

The Xiqu Centre
Over 50,000 people have attended performances, workshops, venue tours and more at the Xiqu Centre since its opening in January 2019.  The Xiqu Centre’s Tea House Theatre is attracting new audiences and nurturing young performing talent through the Tea House Rising Stars Troupe.

Mr Louis Yu, Executive Director, Performing Arts said, “With the opening of the Xiqu Centre we are bringing xiqu into the 21st century in our mission to conserve, promote and develop diverse genres of Chinese Opera. Our programming for xiqu also revolves around this mission, from influential shows in the grand theatre to the novel experiences in the Tea House Theatre.”

Freespace and Art Park
Freespace is the next venue to come into operation in June 2019 in the heart of the Art Park, showcasing experimental art forms that push the boundary of theatrical experiences. There will be a mix of exciting programmes to unveil Freespace’s four spaces and the Art Park, including workshops, newly commissioned works and outdoor performances of experimental dance, theatrical, and musical collaborations.

WKCDA is collaborating with renowned institutions and artists including Le French May, Hong Kong Repertory Theatre, Hong Kong Ballet, and Wayne McGregor on new experimental productions.  Partnership agreements have been signed with leading dance institutions in Europe and Asia Pacific, and with Hong Kong’s three flagship companies, Hong Kong Ballet, Hong Kong Dance Company and City Contemporary Dance Company to support new work development and present performances at Freespace in the coming years.

The flagship free outdoor event Freespace Happening was held for the first full season in the newly opened Art Park, featuring artists from all over the world.  Freespace also launched “Freespace Mixtape Vol.1 and 2”, a collection of the best emerging Hong Kong music, on all major online music platforms.

Ms Alison Friedman, Artistic Director, Performing Arts said, “Our programme continues to provide space, both physically and artistically, for performing artists to explore, experiment, create and collaborate. We are following the successful Xiqu Centre opening with the upcoming Freespace and Art Park venues. Our first season is already programmed into 2020 with ground-breaking local and international performances, workshops, and new festivals.”

M+
M+ continues to be at the forefront of contemporary art exhibition programming as the museum gears towards completion. The iconic M+ building by Herzog & de Meuron, Hong Kong’s museum of 20th and 21st century visual culture, was topped out in November 2018 and is due to open in the end of 2020 or early 2021.

M+ has made significant acquisitions over the last 12 months, including the Archigram Archive, which brings to the region Archigram’s historical significance for Hong Kong, Mainland China, and Asia.  M+ launched the M+ Collections Beta website, following best museum practice and making the collection available through open access: 5,000 items can now be explored in a friendly, browsable format.

M+ launched the Sigg Prize, which recognises outstanding artistic practice in the Greater China region. The prize continues the pioneering work the Chinese Contemporary Art Award (CCAA) has done over the past two decades and elevates it to a global platform. The Sigg Prize Exhibition at M+ Pavilion will feature six shortlisted artists, with the winner will be announced during the exhibition in late 2019.

M+ continues to build meaningful global institutional relationships and collaborations. Noguchi for Danh Vo: Counterpoint, saw the first collaboration with a major international partner: The Noguchi Museum.  The exhibition has had around 14,000 visitors since its opening. Shirley Tse: Stakeholders, Hong Kong in Venice will be Hong Kong’s Collateral Event at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. As the fourth collaboration between M+ and HKADC, this exhibition is a milestone for Hong Kong contemporary art on one of the world’s most prestigious international platforms.

From 29 May to 2 June 2019, M+ will collaborate with the Sydney Opera House for an exclusive five-day moving image programme anchored in contemporary music, The Hidden Pulse. Presented as part of the Sydney Opera House’s annual contemporary music event Vivid LIVE, the programme will be the inaugural project for M+ International, a new initiative for international collaborations and partnerships happening in the lead-up to M+’s opening in Hong Kong.

Ms Suhanya Raffel, Museum Director, M+ said, “As we move towards our opening of one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary visual culture in the world, we continue to establish global authority by building meaningful institutional relationships, strengthening our international visibility and reaching broader audiences in Hong Kong, across Asia and beyond.”

Construction Update
There are now five venues under construction at the District, scheduled for opening over the next five years, these include Freespace, The Art Park, M+ Museum, Hong Kong Palace Museum and the Lyric Theatre Complex. The Music Centre is the latest venue to be confirmed.  The opening of M+ looks likely to be end of 2020 or early 2021 and construction of Hong Kong Palace Museum superstructure is scheduled for completion in end 2021.

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.