Speech by CS at opening ceremony of Art Basel's second edition in Hong Kong (English only) (with photos/video)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, at the opening ceremony of Art Basel's second edition in Hong Kong this morning (May 14):

Ms (Eva) Herzog (Member of the Government City of Basel), Mr (René) Kamm (CEO, MCH Swiss Exhibition (Basel) Ltd), Marc (Director of Art Basel, Mr Marc Spiegler) and Magnus (Director Asia, Art Basel, Mr Magnus Renfrew), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     It gives me great pleasure to join you today at the opening ceremony of the second edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong. I wish to first extend my warmest welcome to the distinguished guests joining us from different parts of the world.

     I am particularly pleased with Art Basel's second edition to be held in Hong Kong, as while I assured the Art Basel team when we first met in my office last year, I assured them that Art Basel - this world's premier modern and contemporary art fair - will certainly have a significant role in Hong Kong's cultural landscape, our current capacity constraint and the popularity of this Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre may pose some scheduling difficulties, and I am therefore really delighted that a convenient slot could be identified, not only for this year but for future years as well. So it is no longer my personal wish but the reality that Art Basel will become from now on an important annual cultural tourism event in Hong Kong, making the city a sought-after destination amongst art collectors, gallerists, artists, dealers and curators.

     As envisaged, Art Basel's inaugural edition in Hong Kong last year is a huge success. I was told that the first-year results are testimony of the benefits and long-term potential that Art Basel can bring to Hong Kong. These include providing an important platform for artists to expose themselves and to make their name known to a wider, international audience. Indeed, a vibrant, healthy art market is essential for artists and art ecology as a whole. This will in turn help reinforce Hong Kong's position as a cultural hub in Asia, and that is why we welcome the staging of significant international events in Hong Kong, such as Art Basel.

     The number of private art galleries in Hong Kong has been on the rise in recent years. Invest Hong Kong, our inward investment promotion agency, of whom the head is here, Simon Galpin, identifies potential clients including art galleries that are interested in setting up in Hong Kong through its international network, while the Creative Industries team of its Hong Kong head office facilitates the clients to set up by providing them with updated market information, introduction of business contacts, promotion support and networking opportunities. Invest Hong Kong also hosts events to promote opportunities in art-related businesses, sponsor major arts events and work with multiplier networks locally and overseas to promote Hong Kong as an international art hub. In the past few years, Invest Hong Kong has facilitated 20 companies involved in art-related businesses including art galleries setting up in Hong Kong. I am sure that there will be more to come in future.

     In addition to these market initiatives, I am pleased to say that the Government plays an important role in promoting the development of arts in Hong Kong. In addition to managing a number of arts-related museums and centres, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government partners with local and international renowned artists and arts organisations to stage various exhibitions throughout the year. The "Ju Ming - Sculpting the Living World", currently exhibited at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, is one of the many examples of large-scale, high-quality exhibitions that the department has organised.

     Those who are familiar with Hong Kong may also be aware that we are pressing ahead with the development of the West Kowloon Cultural District, WKCD, including Museum Plus (M+), the flagship world-class museum for visual culture. Both the CEO, Michael (Lynch), and Executive Director in charge of M+, Lars (Nittve), are here with us. At an estimated capital cost of HK$5 billion and designed by the renowned architects Herzog & de Meuron partnered with TFP Farrells and Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong, the project clearly underscores the commitment of the Government to enhance Hong Kong's position as an international art and culture metropolis. M+ has already organised a number of events and exhibitions to engage the public ahead of its opening, such as "Building M+: The Museum and Architecture Collection", which showcased the winning design of the M+ building and the museum's growing architecture collection, as well as "NEONSIGNS.HK", an interactive online exhibition celebrating Hong Kong's unique neon signs. The M+ team in the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority has spared no effort in building up M+'s acquisitions, training arts administrators and promoting visual arts appreciation amongst student population. And on M+ acquisitions, I must thank Dr Uli Sigg, who is here with us, for his generosity in giving us his precious contemporary art collections.

     The M+ team is participating in this year's Art Basel with a presentation on the museum's building design and collection. The M+ stand will feature a new architectural model of the M+ building, alongside an interactive magnetic display featuring images of works from the fast-growing M+ collection. There is also an opportunity for visitors to meet members of the curatorial team from M+ who will be participating in public talks. I am sure that you will learn more about the museum through our presentation.

     I am pleased to see more international art fairs, like Art Basel, being staged in Hong Kong, providing local and international art enthusiasts more eye-opening opportunities to appreciate the beauty of art. Last but not the least, may I congratulate Art Basel on the success of the second edition of the fair in Hong Kong, and I wish all of you an enjoyable and inspiring visit. Thank you very much.

Ends/Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Issued at HKT 15:41