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Blog // Thoughts
April 1, 2010

Final Thoughts ON HKAF 2010

Another Hong Kong Arts Festival has come to a close. This year I’ve enjoyed some great performances. You can read some reviews here, Nina Simone Remembered Café de los Maestros David Murray’s Black Saint Quartet Dutch National Ballet On The Waterfront Ojos De Brujo The Tempest Apart from the performances themselves, a few things caught […]

Another Hong Kong Arts Festival has come to a close. This year I’ve enjoyed some great performances. You can read some reviews here,

Nina Simone Remembered
Café de los Maestros
David Murray’s Black Saint Quartet
Dutch National Ballet
On The Waterfront
Ojos De Brujo
The Tempest

Apart from the performances themselves, a few things caught my attention this year.

1. Compared to previous years, most shows began closer to their advertised start time. This is a marked contrast to 2007, where most performances started at least 20 minutes late.

2. Far fewer empty seats. I don’t know if there has there been a change in seat allocation policy, but this is a welcome change. It mocks patrons when they have to look over empty seats, especially empty seats in the best sections.

3. Much quieter audiences. There was still some unwelcome chatter, coughing and mobile phone interuptions. But, compared to previous years the audience behaviour was significantly improved. Maybe the insanely loud pre-show annoucments about courtesy and mobile phones helped?

4. The plus programme was great. I really enjoyed the bandoneon talk and hope that the festival expands this programme of supporting talks and presentations for next year.

5. There were lots of young people around. The festival looks to be delivering on the promise to make more tickets available to students and younger patrons.

As much as I enjoyed this year’s Festival, there are a few things I would like to see them consider for next year.

1. Audience expectations. At some performances, it seemed as though the audience was not prepared for the kind of performance on offer. It is the patron’s responsibility to familiarise themselves with the work. But, whilst the festival does a good job of making preview content available at the ticket booking stage it could do a little more, in the weeks leading up to the performance to inform audiences of what to expect in the shows themselves.

2. Better online publicity. The HKAF has a tiny presence on Twitter, which really didn’t seem to even get going until the final days of the festival. A blog, active throughout the whole year would certainly help. Moreover, there is potential here to use young Hong Kong talent to produce video or streaming content not just to publicise the concerts and performances themselves, but also to spread futher understanding of the arts in question across Hong Kong.

3. Arts Festival pop-up store. I’d love to see a Hong Kong Arts Festival store in one of the main malls, if only for a few weeks. This would put the events and supporting merchandise (books, CDs, DVDs, posters, etc) right at the heart of Hong Kong life. Moreover, it would be a great way for the festival organisers to speak more directly with the Hong Kong public, away from the venues and performances themselves.

For me, the Hong Kong Arts Festival is the most important local date (or set of dates) on my calendar. This year, as in previous years, it has been the highlight of living in Hong Kong and I am looking forward to what the 2011 programme will offer us.

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