Nov 20 2013

Hong Kong Art Galleries Hope to Boost Visitor Numbers

by The Editors

Hong Kong’s chief secretary and chairman of the board for the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, expresses the importance of art galleries for the city’s future.

This week 49 galleries throughout Hong Kong joined forces to launch the inaugural Hong Kong Art Gallery Week. Founded by the collective of like-minded commercial gallery heads who make up the Hong Kong Art Gallery Association (HKAGA), the event seeks to entice audiences to explore the city’s numerous artistic offerings.

“We’re trying to achieve quite a few things,” event co-founder and HKAGA member, Angela Li of Contemporary by Angela Li, told ArtAsiaPacific. “The main thing is to generate a lot more noise and try to get collectors to come into the galleries.” Despite Hong Kong’s growing success in terms of art fairs and auctions, Li has observed that the number of visitors to physical gallery spaces remains low. “We put in a lot of effort putting together our shows” Li said, lamenting that “local people rarely go and see the shows, it’s not the culture.”

Intent on increasing people’s willingness to engage with art, Hong Kong Art Gallery Week will be offering a diverse roster of exhibitions while a free shuttle bus—running from the South Island Cultural District to Kwai Chung—will be shunting gallerygoers around on Friday and Saturday. This year’s programming centers around China and, in addition to exhibitions, visitors can also attend artist talks, tour studios and a breakfast with prominent Chinese art collector Tan Guobin. 

During Friday’s “Art After Hours,” events will continue into the night, long after the galleries’ normal closing times. One performance, from the New Common Theatre, directed by Wong Chun-Tat and Benjamin Teare in collaboration with worker-led art troupes and civil organizations in China, will be taking place on the street outside Sheung Wan gallery Amelia Johnson Contemporary.

Other highlights from among the over 70 events that have been lined up include a conversation on November 21 with Indian artist Atul Dodiya at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and the “Myanmar Art in Transition” exhibition at Karin Weber Gallery, which will be opening on November 26.

At the event’s opening at Duddell’s bar and restaurant, Hong Kong’s chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor—currently chairman of the board for the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority—assured attendees that the government views the role of galleries as highly important to the city’s future, and that, having been supportive of the inaugural Art Basel in Hong Kong earlier this year, which has been a success for all concerned, they would be equally sympathetic to the galleries’ efforts.

As the third biggest trading hub for art, the HKAGA have set their sights high for Hong Kong’s art scene in the coming years. “We’d like to be the Asian hub,” Li said, “It’s a long term plan for progress. We’re hoping on many levels that we can achieve it.”