The academy ball is a high­light of the so­cial cal­en­dar. Chris­tian Barlow speaks to one of its or­gan­is­ers, Win­nie Chiu, about films, fundrais­ing and fos­ter­ing the arts

Hong Kong Tatler - - Contents -

Win­nie Chiu talks films, fundrais­ing and fos­ter­ing the arts in the lead-up to the Hong Kong Academy for Per­form­ing Arts Ball, whose or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee she pre­sides over

he Academy Ball al­ways de­liv­ers glitz and glam­our, but it’s also one of the most im­por­tant phil­an­thropic events on the city’s so­cial cal­en­dar. Ev­ery year the academy, which was estab­lished in 1984 and has since be­come one of Asia’s pre­mier arts in­sti­tu­tions, trans­forms one of the stages at its Wan Chai cam­pus into a grand din­ing room. As guests im­bibe cham­pagne and feast on a ban­quet, they are treated to a live per­for­mance by stu­dents cre­ated es­pe­cially for the oc­ca­sion.

The pur­pose of the evening is to raise cash to fund the grant­ing of schol­ar­ships to wor­thy stu­dents. The schol­ar­ship cam­paign is driven by the So­ci­ety of the Academy for Per­form­ing Arts (SAPA), the academy’s fundrais­ing arm, which has raised more than HK$70 mil­lion and sup­ported around 1,000 schol­ar­ships since the first Academy Ball in 1989.

And that’s where Win­nie Chiu, the pres­i­dent and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of ho­tel group Dorsett Hos­pi­tal­ity In­ter­na­tional, comes in. Win­nie is a mem­ber of the SAPA ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, and this year is her third as chair­per­son of the or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee for the Academy Ball. Here, Win­nie pre­views the big event, ex­plains its im­por­tance to the com­mu­nithy and tells why she’s a be­liever in nur­tur­ing new tal­ent.

Why is it im­por­tant for peo­ple to support the Academy Ball?

Hong Kong is a melt­ing pot of new tal­ent, and its peo­ple have a deep ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the arts and cul­ture. Al­though the gov­ern­ment is sup­port­ing com­pre­hen­sive pro­jects like the West Kowloon Cul­tural Dis­trict and M+, it’s not enough to just have the “hard­ware” per se. You need to have the soft­ware to support it too, which is why I’m pas­sion­ate about the HKAPA. I think a lot of peo­ple recog­nise the value the academy of­fers to the com­mu­nity and the city as a whole.

Can you share some of your favourite suc­cess sto­ries from over the years?

With­out a doubt one of the high­lights has been wit­ness­ing the suc­cess of con­cert pi­anist Aristo Sham Ching-tao. He joined the HKAPA as a ju­nior pi­ano stu­dent in 2002 and was awarded the SAPA mu­sic schol­ar­ship in 2006. I think it’s in­cred­i­ble what he’s been able to ac­com­plish. Not only is he mu­si­cally gifted but he’s in­cred­i­bly stu­dious. I be­lieve he scored 14 A*s for his GCSE at Har­row and he’s cur­rently pur­su­ing Bach­e­lor of Arts and Mas­ter of Mu­sic de­grees through a joint pro­gramme at Har­vard Univer­sity and the New Eng­land Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic.

How does it feel to have Jaeger-lecoul­tre as the ti­tle spon­sor of the ball this year?

It’s the third year that Jaeger-lecoul­tre has sup­ported us and I’m thrilled with the progress of our re­la­tion­ship. Aside from their spon­sor­ship on the night, many don’t re­alise that Jaegerlecoul­tre has set up a schol­ar­ship pro­gramme and will be or­gan­is­ing mas­ter­classes with some of their celebrity am­bas­sadors, which re­ally is a once-in-a-life­time op­por­tu­nity for our stu­dents.

How will you be collaborating on the night?

This year’s theme is “art deco dance,” con­nect­ing with the pe­riod when Jaeger-lecoul­tre re­leased its first Rev­erso time­piece in 1931. The whole space feels like a movie set and the high­light this year will be a short film made es­pe­cially for the oc­ca­sion—a three-minute black-and-white silent movie cre­ated by HKAPA grad­u­ates from our School of Film and Tele­vi­sion and our School of Theatre and En­ter­tain­ment Arts. The main char­ac­ter is played by Neo Yau Hawk-sau, an HKAPA alum who ma­jored in screen­writ­ing but is now pegged as an emerg­ing ac­tor. The movie, shot at our Béthanie cam­pus in Pok Fu Lam, re­ally show­cases the tal­ents of our grad­u­ates and is the per­fect ex­am­ple of how once you fol­low your pas­sion, one door can open many others.

What are the strengths of this year’s or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee?

I think ev­ery­one on the com­mit­tee brings some­thing dif­fer­ent to the brain­storm­ing process and it has hon­estly been such a plea­sure work­ing with ev­ery­one this year. I’m not sure if it’s the non­stop laugh­ter or the fact that ev­ery­one brings so many great ideas to the ta­ble, but there re­ally is a great chem­istry with our com­mit­tee this year.

The Academy Ball will take place on De­cem­ber 3


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