Friday 18 January 2019

Creativity takes centre stage at Tai Kwun for the launch of SPARK, Hong Kong’s first Festival of Ideas

The Honourable Chief Executive of the HKSAR Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor officially opens the British Council Festival.

Hong Kong’s first Festival of Ideas – SPARK: The Science and Art of Creativity – launched in style today with an opening ceremony at Tai Kwun hosted by organisers the British Council. The ceremony kicked off a spectacular series of events that celebrate creativity across the arts, sciences and education, and offer a platform for cultural exchange between the UK and Hong Kong.

Guest of honour at the opening ceremony, The Honourable Chief Executive of the HKSAR Mrs. Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, officiated at the opening before being given a guided tour of the festival’s exhibitions by the Director of the British Council in Hong Kong, Jeff Streeter, and Andrew Heyn OBE, the British Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau. Running from 18-20 January at the Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts and other selected locations on Hong Kong Island, SPARK is the first event of its kind in the city.

Free and open to the public, the festival features more than 30 events presented by over 50 creative and education partners from across the UK and Hong Kong, including over 20 higher education institutions. 150 people have travelled from the UK to Hong Kong to perform, present and exhibit at SPARK, partnering with 100 people from Hong Kong organisations.

Setting the tone for the festival, innovative events that are taking place on the first day include ‘Prison Break’, an augmented reality experience from Coventry University and the Hong Kong Design Institute that challenges visitors to recapture escaped criminals; ‘Litcraft’ by the British Library and Lancaster University, which uses the gaming platform Minecraft to breathe new life into literary classics; and ‘What is Creativity?’, a panel discussion in which artist Faye Wei Wei and experts from the University of Kent, the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre and the Hong Kong Design Centre explore the topic of creativity.

While some of the events take place only once during the festival, many will be repeated across the weekend, giving festival-goers additional opportunities to be inspired by the programme of live performances, thought-provoking talks and interactive experiences.

Highlights of days two and three of the festival include: ‘Gender Perspectives’, a thought leadership session featuring representatives from the Women’s Foundation, the Hong Kong Association of Careers Masters and Guidance Masters and the Legislative Council that takes an in-depth look at gender equality in STEM-related careers; ‘Making the Invisible Visible’, an observational walk through Hong Kong Park to explore air-quality data hosted by Newcastle University; and ‘Ignite the SPARK!’, a satellite event in Aberdeen at which fire drawings will be set alight by outdoor theatre company Walk the Plank, working with The Warehouse Teenage Club.

As well as opening the event, The Honourable Mrs. Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor also unveiled ‘Frail Silver of The Climbing Stars’, a striking neon artwork conceived and designed by rising British Chinese artist Faye Wei Wei and fabricated in neon by one of Hong Kong’s last remaining neon light masters. The installation, which features two classical busts entwined in thought and accompanied by a pair of roses, will be on display at the SPARK Hub in Tai Kwun’s Parade Ground throughout the festival as part of a project called Neon Spark, sponsored by Phillips Auctioneers.

The Honourable Mrs. Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR, said:

‘SPARK reflects Hong Kong-British cooperation at its finest. SPARK is about creating connections, about finding innovative ways for the people of Hong Kong and the UK to excel. I look forward to many more cultural exchanges between us.’

Artist Faye Wei Wei said:

“I have always been drawn to things in pairs. My compositions often end up being heart-shaped: two lovers dancing, two boxers fighting, a tulip caressing another tulip, a horse in duet with its rider. I guess it’s also to do with the nature of things having an opposite - every flower has a shadow, every moon has a sun.”

Jeff Streeter, Director, British Council in Hong Kong, said:

‘We are immensely proud to launch Hong Kong’s first Festival of Ideas here at the wonderful Tai Kwun centre for heritage and arts, and we are honoured that the Chief Executive Mrs Carrie Lam could be here to officially open SPARK today. SPARK is all about inspiring ideas and creating connections between art and science, the UK and Hong Kong, young and old, old and new. We hope that SPARK will provide our audiences with new ideas and new possibilities about what the future might hold.”

SPARK is completely free and open to the public, with the majority of events designed to inspire people of all ages, but especially those under 30. Some of the events in the three-day programme require registration, although walk-ups are available on the day, if capacity permits. Download the programme pdfhere.

Keep up-to-date with the festival by following the British Council Hong Kong’s social media channels:

Facebook: /BritishCouncilHongKong

Instagram: @britishcouncilhk

Twitter: @hkBritish

Hashtag: #SPARKhk2019

Notes to Editor

About SPARK: The Science and Art of Creativity

UK/HK: A shared future through creativity and innovation

SPARK is a place for debate, inspiration and visionary thinking. A brand-new British Council Festival of Ideas, SPARKcelebrates creativity across the arts, sciences and education, and offers a platform for cultural exchange between the UK and Hong Kong. With more than 40 events over three days and more than 50 creative and education partners from the UK and Hong Kong, SPARK will open eyes and ears with interactive experiences, provocative performances, stimulating talks and other innovative happenings. Young, old or in-between, everyone is welcome. SPARK will take place 18-20 January 2019 at Tai Kwun, Hong Kong’s newest centre for heritage and arts.

More programme info, biographies and photos of key participants and partners may be downloaded from this dropbox link

SPARK Partners

Please find a full list of SPARK creative, education, participating and supporting partners here.



About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. They work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. In 2018, they reached over 75 million people directly and 758 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. They make a positive contribution to the countries they work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934, they are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. They receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government. They have been working with Hong Kong since 1948. SPARK is the culmination of activities to mark their 70th anniversary, which they celebrated in 2018, commemorating 70 years of cultural relations and exchange between the UK and Hong Kong.