Speech by CS at 45th Hong Kong Arts Festival Finale Ceremony (with photos/video)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at a toasting ceremony for the 45th Hong Kong Arts Festival Finale Ceremony at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre this evening (March 18):
Mr Victor Cha (Chairman of the Hong Kong Arts Festival Society Limited), Mr Anthony Chow (Deputy Chairman of the Hong Kong Jockey Club), Ms Gao Ming (Chairperson and Executive Director of the ICBC (Asia)), Ms Tisa Ho (Executive Director of the Hong Kong Arts Festival Society Limited), Mr Lau (Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Lau Kong-wah), Michelle (Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Ms Michelle Li), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
     I feel honoured to be invited to provide the closing remarks at the finale of the 45th Hong Kong Arts Festival. Let me first warmly congratulate everyone involved in staging this Festival.
     This year's Festival has a special meaning, as it coincides with the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The Festival featured three spectacular programmes to commemorate the occasion, including the Finale performance tonight - Dream of the Red Chamber - which is co-presented by the San Francisco Opera and the Hong Kong Arts Festival Society.
     The Hong Kong Arts Festival has long been a flagship and signature annual fixture in Hong Kong's cultural calendar. It is also an important catalyst in enriching Hong Kong's cultural life. With its ever growing stature and prestige, the festival contributes greatly to our reputation as an arts and cultural hub in the region. During the four-week-long Festival this year, a total of 180 performances have been staged, including 16 world premieres and 14 Asian premieres, along with about 400 Festival PLUS and education activities as well as one exhibition. These performances and activities were all well received, with an attendance of over 330 000 people and at least 93 per cent of the tickets were sold. More than 1 700 international and local artists converged on this vibrant, colourful cosmopolitan city to perform for the Festival, bringing vitality and diversity to the local population and visitors alike and helping enhance the quality of their cultural life.
     Before I close, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all participating arts and cultural organisations, the audience and benefactors, who are crucial to making this Festival a success. My special thanks also go to the sponsors and patrons for their generous contributions. In particular, I salute the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust - Anthony Chow is behind me, and Cheung Leong (Executive Director (Charities and Community) of the Hong Kong Jockey Club) is standing somewhere in the audience - for its unwavering support over the years and to the ICBC (Asia) - 高總 (Chairperson and Executive Director of the ICBC (Asia), Ms Gao Ming) - for sponsoring tonight's performance.
     I am sure that with the advent of the iconic West Kowloon Cultural District, which promises to be one of the largest cultural projects in the world, the Festival will go from strength to strength and scale new heights in the years ahead.
     Now, allow me to say a few words in Cantonese.

Ends/Saturday, March 18, 2017
Issued at HKT 23:26