SCED's speech at luncheon with cultural and creative industry leaders in Los Angeles
Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at a luncheon with cultural and creative industry leaders in Los Angeles, the United States, on June 14 (Los Angeles time):
Distinguished guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be back here in Los Angeles. Thank you for your warm welcome.
Each time I come to LA I discover something new and exciting. To me, this is much more than a City of Angels. It is a city of film and music, a city of fashion, design, architecture and marketing. Above all, it is a city of dreams and vision.
I can think of no better place than here at the Walt Disney Concert Hall to share with you our dreams for Hong Kong's creative development and how you can help us turn these dreams into reality.
When most people think of Hong Kong, they think of it as a city of business, which of course Hong Kong is. Yet, the business of arts and culture is also growing fast in our unique corner of China. There are over 36,000 creative and cultural enterprises in Hong Kong employing some 200,000 creative talents. Creative and cultural industries together contribute around 5 per cent to our gross domestic product.
However, it is impossible to put a price on the intangible contributions of creative and cultural industries, or talk in terms of numbers alone.
People around the world want to practice martial arts like Bruce Lee or watch Jackie Chan, Chow Yun Fat, Maggie Cheung and Michelle Yeoh at the movies. Animators want to emulate Ramen Hui's success in films such as Antz and Shrek. Trendsetters want to wear the latest fashions from Vivienne Tam or get inspiration from Eric Chan's creative genius.
While these creative talents have made their name in Hong Kong they have also been able to transcend geographical, cultural and creative boundaries by making it on big screens, catwalks and in art galleries around the world.
We want more people, especially our younger generation, to have the opportunity to make their creative mark in Hong Kong and further afield. This is why we need your help and why Hong Kong is working to forge a closer collaboration with creative capitals such as LA and New York, and others in Europe and elsewhere.
Creative collaboration is a two-way street that has produced some memorable creative achievements. The Oscar-winning film "The Departed" is a remake of a Hong Kong film "Infernal Affairs". Batman glided through the skyscrapers of Hong Kong in "The Dark Knight" and British secret agent James Bond has been a regular visitor to Hong Kong in his various quests to catch the bad guy and win the girl.
Today, when you visit Hong Kong's central business district you see a thriving art scene with a vibrant arts district nestled among the banks and office buildings. In areas where there used to be a few art galleries there are now entire arts clusters.
Hong Kong is not just a city of business, it is also a city of creativity and character. Business and the arts not only exist comfortably side-by-side, they complement each other.
The rapidly growing number of wealthy Chinese and Asian collectors has added to the buoyancy of Hong Kong's art market. Hong Kong is now the world's third largest art auction market after New York and London. Christies and Sotheby's do a roaring trade. Just last month, Art Basel unveiled its inaugural Hong Kong show after it acquired Asia's largest arts exhibition, Art HK.
Art Basel Hong Kong featured 245 of the world's leading galleries from 35 countries, including two galleries from LA. The debut show was a huge success. Major works by renowned overseas artists were brought to Hong Kong, attracting some 60,000 visitors and placing our city firmly on the international arts map.
A big question that the Hong Kong Government has been grappling with in recent years is how to nurture and promote creative and cultural industries. Here again, we look to other successful creative hubs such as LA for their ideas and collaboration.
Hong Kong has long been a place of open borders and open minds. We safeguard and respect cultural freedom and artistic creation. Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are enshrined in our constitutional document, the Basic Law. This helps to create an environment that encourages creativity and diversity. We also provide opportunities for people to get involved in creative and cultural industries by devoting resources to nurturing talent and encouraging innovation.
For example, we have a dedicated agency, Create Hong Kong, that provides one-stop services for the creative sector. Since the Create Hong Kong office was set up in 2009, we have spent some US$60 million to support various programmes that develop and promote our creative industries, and generate new business opportunities for the sector.
These include exhibitions, seminars, investment fairs, business matching activities and signature events that promote creativity in the business sector and the community at large. We have also financed the production of 18 small-to-medium budget films, targeting local and overseas audiences.
Hong Kong has long been a leading design centre in the Asia-Pacific, bringing together the brightest business and creative minds. Key areas of architecture, interior design, furniture, graphics, fashion and industrial design are all expanding. Advertising, branding and creative agencies are also doing well in Hong Kong as a result of the flourishing economy and retail market in Asia.
We have earmarked significant resources to promote the growth of our design sector. Close to US$20 million has been pledged to support the design industry during the period from 2012 to 2015. This covers an incubation programme for design start-ups and operating a design promotion agency.
We also have the annual Business of Design Week exhibition. This is a week-long programme of forums, seminars, exhibitions, networking events and outreach programmes all dedicated to design, branding and innovation. Business of Design Week has itself become a strong international brand in the industry and is now the largest design event in Asia.
The financial bottom line is that the value-added of our design sector has more than tripled from 2005 to 2011. We expect the growth momentum to continue on the back of the buoyant market in Mainland China and with Kong Kong's strong links to the Mainland and the rest of Asia.
Looking ahead, we will continue to support the development of cultural and creative industries in Hong Kong. Our single largest and most ambitious project is the West Kowloon Cultural District project. It is a strategic investment to meet the long-term infrastructural and development needs of the arts and culture sector in Hong Kong.
Our dream, our vision of developing a 100-acre prime waterfront site into a world-class integrated arts and cultural district is gradually becoming a reality.
This cultural district will provide 17 performing arts and cultural venues and is scheduled for completion by phases from 2015 onwards. Based on a "City Park" concept, the West Kowloon Cultural District will cater to various art forms with a vibrant mix of arts and cultural facilities, as well as green space, a waterfront promenade and retail, dining and entertainment facilities. The flagship museum, M+, will focus on the twentieth and twenty-first century visual culture - encompassing design, contemporary art, popular culture, moving images and architecture.
Another major initiative is to bring together the existing cluster of cultural and creative establishments in our central business district to provide a focal point for designers. It will be based around the historic building of the former Police Married Quarters (PMQ) in the heart of the city. There will be more than 100 studios for established and start-up designers as points of sale, retail space for design products and crafts, and exhibition space.
The PMQ project is also a role model for public-private partnership. While the Government provides the premises and covers the cost of revitalisation, a private-sector operator will be responsible for managing the project and ensuring its success.
The PMQ initiative is also a good example of how we are using the city's unique heritage to inspire creativity today. The PMQ site also includes the site of the former school where Dr Sun Yat-sen was educated. I am not sure what his teachers told him during his school days, but Dr Sun went on to become known as the founder of modern China.
By combining the historic significance of this site with its new existence as a creative cluster, we hope to inspire up-and-coming designers to be bold in creating our city's future.
Ladies and gentlemen, Hong Kong is much more than a business and financial centre. Our history as a free-thinking city with free flows of people and ideas and a cultural mix of Chinese and Western influences will continue to influence Hong Kong's future.
I hope that more creative minds from LA will come and contribute their fresh ideas and unique experiences to Hong Kong's creative and cultural development.
We also look forward to sharing our own experiences with our friends here in LA and around the world so that we can turn dreams into reality through the true spirit of creative collaboration.
Thank you very much.
Saturday, June 15, 2013