Following is the speech delivered by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Dr Patrick Ho, at the welcoming reception for "Soul of the City: International Symposium on Art and Public Space" held at the Hong Kong Museum of Art today (February 12):
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening everyone and welcome to Hong Kong, Asia's world city. I am delighted that you have been able to join us here in Hong Kong for this International Symposium on Art and Public Space. This is the first time we have hosted such an international cultural exchange event on this topic, and we are very excited by the enthusiastic response we have received.
A quick glance at the programme reveals the depth and breadth of the discussions we have lined up over the next two days. We have esteemed speakers from the UK, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Japan and the Mainland. To complement these international perspectives, a wide range of Hong Kong speakers will provide local insight into such areas as urban planning and design, public transport, academia, commerce and business and the arts and cultural sectors. We are anxious to learn; we are eager to introduce our city to you; and we are hopeful that this symposium will provide the catalyst for a cross-fertilisation of ideas that will further the development and understanding of art and public space, not just here in Hong Kong but in your home cities as well.
More and more people and governments around the world are turning their attention to the cultural agenda. This symposium provides us with an opportunity to build relationships across the seas through culture and the arts in all their forms. I sincerely hope that in soaking up the sights and sounds of Hong Kong, you will take away a deep impression of a city that is not just famous for its high rise buildings and making money; but a city with a real heart and soul; a city full of energy, excitement and promise; a city with a future; a city, which is itself an ever-being-created piece of artwork - created collectively by our forefathers, citizens and visitors, like you and me. We would like to take this occasion of the international symposium to present to you our city, Hong Kong, with its good sides and its not so good sides, lock, stock and barrel, which is ours, and of our making. And your presence here in Hong Kong during these few days will contribute to this piece of art.
Ladies and gentlemen, I do not want to talk at any great length tonight - we have reserved enough time for our discussions tomorrow and the day after. This evening is a time to relax and to get to know one another, and perhaps to renew some old acquaintances as well. In a while you will also see the latest addition to public art in Hong Kong. With the beautiful Hong Kong harbour as an easel and the skyline as a canvas, pyro and neon artists will shortly dress up the concrete jungle in our "Symphony of Lights" show, which is also an excellent example of government and private sector collaboration. I am sure you will enjoy it.
Please, enjoy yourselves tonight. I am very much looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow morning to kick off the proceedings.
Thank you very much.
Ends/Thursday, February 12, 2004