Season of Performing Arts Events Launches in Hong Kong's West Kowloon Cultural District

West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) is delighted to present a new season of flagship performing arts festivals and major events, organised on the site of Hong Kong's future cultural quarter.

Last weekend saw ten curators and over 400 international and local performers from Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Australia, Portugal, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, China, Macau and Taiwan transform the waterfront site into a dynamic multicultural hub for Freespace Fest; Hong Kong's flagship outdoor festival for the performing arts, welcoming over 30,000 visitors.

Freespace Fest exists to promote all forms of experimental and performing art, showcasing an annual curated programme of multidisciplinary projects, with performances this year of music, dance, drama, literature, street dance, talks, media art, acrobatic performances and parkour. The event brings the most thought-provoking work by artists from Hong Kong, Asia and worldwide to the public, exploring the relationship between contemporary performing art and public space.

By partnering international curators with local artists and performance groups, Freespace Fest demonstrates WKCDA's commitment to global cultural and artistic exchange. Relationships built during Freespace Fest will last far beyond the festival dates themselves, with WKCDA building lasting networks across the industry and supporting Hong Kong's art scene on the international stage. In keeping with WKCDA's aim to bring the performing arts to new and growing audiences, the two-day event was free and encourages public participation.

Presented alongside Freespace Fest as a flagship pre-opening event for the performing arts will be the third edition of the West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre, one of the world's leading festivals celebrating Xiqu and other forms of Chinese and Cantonese Opera, opening 17 January 2014.

Welcoming over 100,000 visitors in 2013, always timed to coincide with the Lunar New Year holiday, the West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre is a celebration of Chinese culture and artistic tradition, conceived to keep the unique cultural heritage of Xiqu alive for future generations, and build audiences in advance of the opening of the Xiqu Centre in 2016, designed by Hong Kong born architects Bing Thom and Ronald Lu.

Offering the largest programme from to date, this year's event features performances across an extensive range of xiqu genres; Jingju, Kunju, Qinqiang, Yueju, Huangmei Xi, Chuanju, Huaiju, Xiangju, Yangju, and Xiju by the renowned Plum Blossom Award Art Troupe of the Chinese Theatre Association, widely considered to be some of the greatest performers of Xiqu worldwide.

In keeping with the customs of the art form, where troupes travel across China to perform in temporary stages and theatres, West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre is built entirely from bamboo, existing only for the duration of the festival, designed by a different architect every year.

For the first time, the theatre will be built on the future site of the West Kowloon park and designed by renowned Hong Kong architect Raymond Fung, offering spectacular views out over Victoria Harbour, set against a unique backdrop of one of Hong Kong's most iconic skylines - in a dialogue between traditional and contemporary forms of architecture.

Construction began on the Xiqu Centre in September 2013, which will be the first major venue to open in the WKCD. Once open, it will be one of the largest venues of its kind worldwide devoted specifically to this historic art form; a world-class facility for the preservation, development and promotion of Chinese opera, making the art form accessible to new audiences. It will provide a platform for Xiqu communities to interact and produce the finest examples of Cantonese and other Chinese opera performances and international cultural programming.

By launching a series of flagship festivals celebrating different genres within the performing arts, WKCDA lays important foundations for the future venues in the District, encouraging public engagement with the site and fostering local and international connections, increasing global appreciation of the opportunities created by a new series of venues devoted to the performing arts in Asia.

Louis Yu, Executive Director, Performing Arts, WKCDA, said "Our major flagship events are a test bed for new ideas, allowing us to transform the future park site into an evolving outdoor stage for events on an unprecedented scale for Hong Kong."

Michael Lynch, Chief Executive, WKCDA said, "WKCD will play an important role in the development of Hong Kong's performing arts sector. The remarkable visitor numbers which we continue to receive - increasing everyyear - are a reflection of building public anticipation for the new collection of venues opening from 2015, and recognition of the high quality of programmes which will soon be found there."

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