Speech by Mr Charles Lee, Chairman of Hong Kong Arts Festival Society at the 40th HKAF Kick-off Press Conference on 3 October 2011

October 03rd, 2011

Friends from the media, participating artists, Hong Kong Arts Festival Committee members, and friends from the arts and business communities, thank you for taking the time to join us here today for the official launch of the 40th Hong Kong Arts Festival.

Many people and organisations have contributed to the Festival’s success in the last 39 years. The Festival has come a long way since its early days. Early audiences of the Festival would be hard pressed to imagine the prestigious orchestras and glittering world stars gracing the stages of the Festival today. They would be awed by the richness and variety of programmes and venues available in today’s festival. Indeed, the Hong Kong Arts Festival has become a leading cultural event for the whole region and attracts keen interest and anticipation from both visitors and locals alike, drawn by the star-studded and world-class performances being offered. The Festival will build upon this excellent track record, and continue its efforts to serve audiences and artists in Hong Kong, and contribute to the vibrancy and richness of the city which is the Festival’s home.

I am therefore very proud to announce details of the 40th Festival, which has already begun with advance performances of the play Richard III starring Kevin Spacey, and will continue till April 2012, including additional repeat performances of successful, in demand, Festival productions. However, the core Festival dates are 28th January to 8th March, during which there will be a wealth of dance, music and theatre, including two major new local productions; and the special event WOW — the World of WearableArt — co-presented with the Hong Kong Jockey Club. In all, the Festival will present 166 performances, serving an audience of about 150,000, including an anticipated 10,000 Young Friends of the Festival.

The Festival wishes to highlight our gratitude to our main benefactors — the Hong Kong SAR Government through the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, and the Hong Kong Jockey Club, which has made a very special contribution this year to celebrate their 40 years of support for the Festival. In addition, we are most grateful to corporate sponsors, foundations and donors for their generous support. Thanks are also due to many organisations and individuals, including contributors to the Student Ticket Scheme. The Festival would not be possible without this support.

The budget for the 2012 Festival is about $110 million. Subvention from the Government has been constant at $33.18 million. The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust this year will provide $17.46 million to underwrite the deficit for our three pillar programmes, fund tickets for two student matinees, co-present WOW and sponsor a Contemporary Dance Series. The Festival hopes to raise approximately $20 million through sponsorships and donations, and another $40 million through ticket sales.

In a moment, we will unveil what the 40th Festival has to offer. I hope that you will find the many programmes exciting and of wide-ranging interest. We count on you to communicate the Festival’s attractions and billings to a wider public. We greatly appreciate the benefits of your efforts which are indispensable to the success of the Festival.

Thank you once again for your support. We look forward to seeing you at the 40th HKAF.

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