CHART arts and heritage festival

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Adrian Cheng and Calvin Hui are seeking to be Hong Kong’s local arts and heritage heroes through upcoming festival CHART, Ysabelle Cheung reports

I never thought that Hong Kong was a cultural desert,” explains Calvin Hui, founder of the newly formed non profit organisation Arts in Heritage Research. Ten years ago, others might have remarked differently. But with ongoing construction of the West Kowloon Cultural District gathering pace and the high note struck by this year’s successful Art Basel, as well as many other local art groups and organisations popping up, it seems that Hui’s words are on the mark. So there’s no better time to launch his latest project, co-founded with close friend and business partner Adrian Cheng. Through Arts in Heritage Research, which was formed just this summer, the pair is introducing Hong Kong’s very first local arts and heritage festival in the autumn, called CHART.

CHART (an acronym formed from the words culture, heritage and arts) takes place from September 13 until the end of November. The festival incorporates existing and new cultural events taking place around Hong Kong Island. Among those involved this year are the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, the Hong Kong Ballet, Ink Society and Fine Art Asia. 

“I think it’s a perfect time to create a festival, to embrace local, unique Hong Kong culture and also some traditional arts. But we don’t want to do it ‘old-fashioned style’ – we want to make it fun  and contemporary,” says Hui, also co-chairman and director of Fine Art Asia. Cheng, co-founder and chairman of Arts in Heritage Research and chairman of the K11 Art Foundation, explains. “We realised that there are a few issues that we need to address in Hong Kong on the culture and heritage scene. We want to educate the masses, to explore what Hong Kong has to offer and to create a better ecosystem for Hong Kong.”

Hui and Cheng are also eager to promote a new project titled Discovery Hollywood Road, a two-week event that encourages students and young art lovers to explore Hong Kong’s famous antique and arts lanes. “The younger generation are actually very inquisitive,” Cheng says. “We really want to educate and involve an entire new generation of people to participate in art and heritage conservation. They are the ones who will tell us about Hong Kong culture. They’re going to explore Hollywood Road and document it in their own way – not from us or what we’ve told them. The new generation: they’re the key.”

Hui believes that CHART will fill a much-needed gap in the annual cultural calendar. “When you look at the cultural calendar of Hong Kong, the first half of the year is really Western. We have the Hong Kong Arts Festival, then April-May-June is Le French May, then Art Basel. During July and August we have the comic fair, the book fair – pop culture and entertainment,” he explains. “When you look at the cultural calendar, you should see something that belongs to our unique culture. That will also enhance the image of Hong Kong as a cosmopolitan city. Without your own culture featured, how can you become cosmopolitan?”

The pair’s plans for CHART, for Arts in Heritage Research, and indeed for the broader context of Hong Kong’s cultural scene, are ambitious. But Cheng and Hui see themselves as just two people working in a collaborative effort to jumpstart Hong Kong’s progressive arts community. In the next five years, Arts in Heritage Research plans to launch its artist-in-residence programme (partnering with the Royal Academy of Arts in London) and work with local schools to develop cultural journalism programmes. CHART will continue to build its network annually, organising a walk every year in different heritage sites around the city. “Hong Kong is so beautiful – any history has its own value. Any place has its own identity,” Cheng says. “We want to redefine and provide a supportive place for local artists to grow.”.

CHART Sep 13end of Nov. Email info@chart.org.hk or call 3105 3151.

For more information on Arts in Heritage Research, visit ahr.org.hk

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