performances and performers available.
“When we get the big names who people know, it’s like a real festival celebration event, and it’s equally wonderful if we can get the artists we believe in and present them before they turn very famous.”
One example is that, last year, the festival presented a young South Korean pianist who won the gold medal in the Chopin Piano Competition six months later.
And, the festival is always watching what the artists are doing and where they have been performing, how the reviews are. If possible, it’ll send someone from its programming team to go and see their performances.
Apart from quality, the festival must bear in mind it should be relevant to and of interest to Hong Kong. So, it tailor-makes the performances for Hong Kong, for Hong Kong audiences who include local artists, says Ho.
According to Ho, the arts festival audience has been getting bigger in the past five years, although not signifi partly because it has not increased its attractions significantly.
“We’re selling roughly 95 percent of all our tickets and, for arts, it’s a very high proportion. We also want to undertake some adventurous work, so it’s not all very known and very easy work — we want to challenge the audience and challenge the artists a little bit,” says Ho, adding that it’s to strike a balance between the artistic leadership and the interests of the audience.
Ho stresses that the festival will not set a percentage target with regard to performances from certain countries or a proportion for certain types of performances. It really depends on the project.
“If we find any great project, I don’t ever want the festival to say, oh dear we have to present this thing and we don’t really believe in it and it’s not very good. But, this is a category and we need to fill this category.”
Currently, a significant portion of the Arts Festival’s revenue comes from ticket sales — close to 40 percent, which is very high even by international standards, according to Ho.
Meanwhile, the government has been, until this year, giving the festival about 30 percent of its revenue, but that funding has been cut for the coming year, so it’s going to rely very much on sponsorships and donations more than before.
Ho believes Hong Kong is a very good place and a “terrible” place in terms of nurturing