United Buddy Bears Exhibition, the first major event that Hong Kong jointly organised with an overseas organisation to promote public art, opened today (May 15). More than 130 colourful Buddy Bears formed a circle in a diameter of 65 metres at the Central Lawn of the Victoria Park and gave a spectacular visual experience to visitors.
"Buddy Bears stand for love, diversity and harmony. Each Buddy Bear has its own colour, pattern and characteristics, but they all share the same set of commonalities of Buddy Bears. Despite their differences in outlook, they respect each other and treat each other as equals, knowing that each of them has its own strengths and weaknesses. Buddy Bears become what they are because they are united, forming an alliance that could weather all the challenges facing them, past, present and future," Secretary for Home Affairs, Dr Patrick Ho said at the opening ceremony today.
"Hong Kong, as a city where East meets West and where people of different races, live and work, share the same values of Buddy Bears. We embrace diversity; we respect the cultures and customs of people with different background and origins; and we deeply treasure the existence of a harmonious community. Like Buddy Bears, we are a society that welcomes new comers with open arms, regardless of their colours and races. This is because we know that the success of Hong Kong depends on our being an open, equal and liberal city. However different we are, we stand united for the betterment of Hong Kong," he added.
Dr Patrick Ho; Founder of Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation, Dr Jackie Chan; Chairman of Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation, Sir David Akers-Jones; Acting Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, Mrs Pamela Tan; Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Ms Anissa Wong; Founders of the United Buddy Bears Project, Dr Klaus Herlitz and Mrs Eva Herlitz; Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Dr Heinrich Wilhelm Beuth; Executive Director of Hong Kong Tourism Board, Ms Clara Chong; United Nations Children's Fund (unicef) Special Representative to Youth, Mr Leon Lai; Chairman of the Hong Kong Committee for unicef, Dr Robert Fung; and Campaign Committee Co-Chairman of the Community Chest of Hong Kong, Mr Lawrence Yu; together with consuls in Hong Kong, sponsors for the exhibition and local artists unveiled more than 130 Buddy Bears at the opening ceremony.
Local artists who have contributed to the promotion of public art by designing Buddy Bears for the exhibition are Chau Cheuk-wai, Choi Hoi-ying, Chu Hing-wah, Ha Bik-chuen, Kan Tai-keung, Kwok Mang-ho, Freeman Lau, Woody Lee, Gigi Leung, Li Yau-mang, Eddie Lui, Man Fung-yi, Ng Lai-pik and Ng Yuen-wa.
An audience of more than 5,000 attended the opening ceremony and the All Starts Show. They also enjoyed performances by local artistes 2R, Yan Ng, Stephanie Cheng, Juno Mak, Monie Tung, Wilfred Lau and Don Lee. Some of the attendees went to the huge circle made up of 120 two-metre tall Buddy Bears to appreciate these unique pieces of art.
United Buddy Bears Exhibition, organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the Home Affairs Department, the Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation and Buddy Bear Berlin and assisted by the Hong Kong Tourism Commission, the Hong Kong Tourism Board and the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Hong Kong, is now being held at the Central Lawn of the Victoria Park from 8 am to 10 pm from May 16 to June 27. Admission is free.
The exhibition is to promote the messages of love, peace and solidarity, as well as to foster public art. It also helps raise funds for the Community Chest of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Committee for the unicef and the Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation to help those in need. Up till now, the proceeds received exceed five million dollars.
Apart from the exhibition, fringe activities are organised for public participation. They include Buddy Bear Design Competition, Story Book Design Competition, music performances, Bouncy Castle, story telling corner, workshops for handicrafts and bears production, photo-taking and Buddy Bears painting activities. Different kinds of Buddy Bears souvenirs are put on sale at the showground as well.
In 2002, a German called Dr Klaus Herlitz and his wife, Eva, had a mind of creating a symbol representing understanding and tolerance among nations. As they thought that people from different countries were fond of bears, regarding them as friendly and lovely, they came up with the idea of creating Buddy Bears. In that year, the Buddy Bears exhibition was staged in Berlin and it soon became a signature event of the city and attracted more than 1.5 million visitors.
When international superstar Jackie Chan was filming in Germany last year, he was so fascinated by the enchanting Buddy Bears on the streets. After learning that the Buddy Bears were to promote the message of global peace and tolerance, he proposed to bring the exhibition to Hong Kong and he raised the proposal with the Government.
For further information on the Buddy Bears, the exhibition and related activities, please call 2414 5555 or visit the following websites:
Ends/ Saturday, May 15, 2004