Speech by CS at opening ceremony of Fine Art Asia 2016 (English only) (with photos/video)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, at the opening ceremony of Fine Art Asia 2016 today (October 1):
Andy (Co-Chairman and Director of Fine Art Asia, Mr Andy Hei), Calvin (Co-Chairman and Director of Fine Art Asia, Mr Calvin Hui), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
     Good afternoon and happy National Day.  It gives me great pleasure to join you all today at the Opening Ceremony of Fine Art Asia 2016.  It is already the fourth time in a row that I open this annual art event, our city’s home-grown art fair reputed as one of Asia’s best international fine art fairs. 
     I have to confess that I was not an art person, let alone an art lover or art critic.  I think I am more well known as a welfare chief closely related to the Government’s poverty alleviation work.  But having been in this job as Chief Secretary for Administration who also carries the position of the Board Chairman of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, I now have a better appreciation of what arts and culture bring to our city.  They enrich our people’s life, attract tourists, bring good business through art fairs and art auctions and provide quality jobs for young people.  I am also impressed by the passion and entrepreneurship of our art collectors, exhibitors and administrators who have committed so much of their time and efforts to help build Hong Kong into a cultural metropolis.  Andy and Calvin, who co-founded the Fine Art Asia and have so successfully raised its international appeal, are two of these exemplary figures.  That’s why I am happy to come back to support them year after year.
     Fine Art Asia has leveraged on Hong Kong’s distinct cultural diversity and identity, rooted in Chinese traditions and inextricably intertwined with Western culture.  It brings together the world’s finest exhibitors and collectors to our unique “East-meets-West” city, showcasing a wide variety of art pieces from both Asia and the West.  For many art lovers, Fine Art Asia is certainly a not-to-miss event in the cultural calendar.  I am proud to note that, last year, the Fair attracted over 25 000 visitors from around the globe.  This year, again, Fine Art Asia is presenting a diversified collection of fabulous art and antiques pieces spanning over 5 000 years of cultural history of humankind, giving us another exciting journey into the world of finest artworks.
     For the arts sector to flourish, audience building is essential.  In Hong Kong, we have more than 20 museums, drawing about five million visitors annually through their wide range of programmes.  Earlier this year, following a one-month pilot launched under the Appreciate Hong Kong Campaign, the Government has introduced free admissions to almost all Leisure and Cultural Services Department museums’ permanent exhibitions. 
     On this joyous occasion, allow me to update you on the latest position of the development of the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD), our long-term strategic investment in cultural hardware to meet the growing cultural needs of the public, attract and nurture artistic talent, foster the development of creative industries, and further strengthen Hong Kong’s status as an international hub of art and culture.  The M+ Pavilion, the first permanent facility in WKCD, is now in operation, showcasing its inaugural exhibition by a young and talented Hong Kong artist Mr Tsang Kin-wah.  The opening of a host of other world-class facilities will follow.  We will have the Xiqu Centre in 2018, the Art Park including the Freespace with a black box theatre and an outdoor stage from 2018 in stages, the 60 000 square meters M+ Building in 2019 and the Lyric Theatre Complex in 2021.
     To conclude, let me share with you the fruitful outcome of my official visit to London earlier this week.  During my stay, I visited the Tate Modern museum, particularly the newly opened extension – the Switch House. I have taken the opportunity to invite Tate Modern which is one of the world’s leading museums of international modern and contemporary art to explore possible collaborations with the M+ museum to be established in the WKCD.  Indeed, these two world-class museums share a common bloodline as the M+ building and the new extension building of Tate Modern are designed by the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron.
     Ladies and gentlemen, I am sure you are as excited as I am by the vision, and by the more vibrant art scene and flourishing cultural landscape in Hong Kong in the pipeline.  Fine Art Asia has made much contribution to our leading position as a regional cultural metropolis, as well as the world’s largest art auction market along with New York and London.
     May I wish this year’s Fine Art Asia a great success and all of you a pleasant National Day weekend.  Thank you very much.

Ends/Saturday, October 1, 2016
Issued at HKT 17:59