From Colonial to Global—Performing Art Space in Hong Kong
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Hong Kong, a Chinese territory located at the tip of the South China Sea, was the last British overseas colony. During its 150 years of colonial rule from 1841 to 1997, the colonial leadership combined with a Chinese effort from the administrative to grass-roots levels made Hong Kong unique. In addition to its values and lifestyle, this city-state has its own social, political and economic systems. Hong Kong laid down the framework for the city proper during its first hundred years of development from 1841 to 1945. The 50 years following World War II saw Hong Kong transition from a defensive outpost into an international financial hub. The urban architecture seen in the city today was formulated mainly during the 1980s and fermented to maturity. Since 1978, when China opened its doors, Hong Kong has served as an example of economic success, and its experiences have directly contributed to the success of mainland China.
This chapter is part of a study supported by the Research Grant Council, Hong Kong government, project No. CityU 11658816.
In 1989, I stayed in Hong Kong for nine months as a visiting research student. I attended my first symphony by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra at City Hall. The music was magnificent. In recent years, I have also viewed performances and visited exhibitions at City Hall, the Hong Kong Cultural Center and the town halls of Shatin, Tsuen Wan and Tun Men, and attending exhibitions held by friends and art groups is my Sunday pastime.
Hong Kong and other Chinese cities are connected in my mind. Compared to the fabulous grand theatres in China, Hong Kong’s theaters of the 1980s are plain in appearance but durable in materials and intimate. Lobbies are always open during the day and evening, allowing for chats, meetings, wandering and eating and drinking. The auxiliary rooms can be rented for art activities. Many people use the buildings free of charge in different (or creative) ways. While the building form was fixed in the 1980s, these theaters are continuously providing warmth to people. They add loveliness to this walkable, open and civic city
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