The Creative Economy: A Cornerstone of Hong Kong’s Future

Hong Kong has transformed into one of the world’s most prominent financial centres, commercial ports, and one of the most densely populated cities on the planet

Cultural Heritage

Today, Hong Kong stands as the fourth most densely populated place globally, with nearly 7.5 million people, over 90% of whom are of Chinese descent. Despite a low birth rate, its population is on the rise, mainly due to immigration from mainland China, accounting for around 12% of Hong Kong residents. Additionally, there are significant communities of Indonesian and Filipino migrant workers.

Embracing Change

The extent of this ambition is evident in the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD), a strategic investment by the HKSAR Government aimed at creating a vibrant arts and cultural hub. This initiative provides world-class venues for presenting the highest quality arts and cultural programs, promotes artistic excellence, nurtures talent and audiences, and fosters an environment of artistic growth. Following the opening of two new performing arts venues in 2019, the Xiqu Centre and Freespace, the Art Park, a highly anticipated urban oasis for public enjoyment, fully opened in 2020. M+, Asia’s inaugural global museum of contemporary visual culture, also commenced operations in November 2021.

The Hong Kong Palace Museum (HKPM) opened its doors in July 2022, helping to make West Kowloon Cultural District an internationally recognised leading arts and cultural district. The three-year Design District Hong Kong program (#ddHK’s) launched in 2018 with an aim to infuse culture beyond institutions into the ordinary spaces of the city, creating programs that support local people, businesses, and new forms of design-based tourism.

Hong Kong has also emerged as one of the world’s art trading hubs, with imports and exports of works of art, collector’s pieces, and antiques amounting to $33.6 billion in 2020, doubling the 2017 figure. Top-tier international art galleries and auction houses have expanded their presence in Hong Kong in recent years, solidifying the city’s position as Asia’s premier art trading centre. However, the government also recognises the significance of arts and culture in building an inclusive and cohesive society, fostering enjoyment and a sense of belonging among citizens.

The Role of the Policymaker

The Culture, Sports, and Tourism Bureau are responsible for cultural policy in Hong Kong, with the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) serving as its executive arm for program delivery, including in museums, libraries, and performance spaces. The Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC) also plays a major role as a statutory body for the development of arts in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong faced a challenging time in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic, having experienced a fifth major wave in Spring 2022. Arts and culture were significantly impacted by the closure of venues, leading some artists to turn to online forms of creative expression. The government has actively encouraged and promoted the integration of arts with innovation and technology (I&T) and has devised strategies and measures to develop and promote Art Tech.

The Future

Looking ahead, “Hong Kong 2030+: Towards a Planning Vision and Strategy Transcending 2030” outlines strategies for optimal infrastructure and land utilisation in an already densely built city. Its vision is to enhance liveability, develop inclusive design in the public realm and public facilities, and promote Victoria Harbour and its surroundings as Hong Kong’s foremost natural and cultural asset. The overarching aim is to safeguard the city’s unique culture, preserve its past, and simultaneously evolve into a liveable, competitive, and sustainable “Asia’s World City.”

Though the short term may be challenging for culture, the government views both the commercial and creative aspects of the cultural sector as pivotal for the city’s long-term success. Among the city’s priorities are developing world-class cultural facilities and strengthening international and mainland connections between arts organisations.

Images copyright © Getty Images / Canva

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