Wednesday 14 November 2018

Become a superhero, travel through time and control a sci-fi thriller with your brain at the British Council’s new Festival of Ideas

SPARK: The Science and Art of Creativity

30+ events by 50 partners over three days, SPARK inspires Hong Kong 18 – 20 Jan 2019

The British Council announced today (Wednesday) the launch of a new Festival of Ideas celebrating creativity across the arts, sciences and education. SPARK: The Science and Art of Creativity will transform Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts in Hong Kong from 18 - 20 January 2019 with interactive experiences, provocative performances, stimulating talks and other innovative happenings. Featuring more than 30 events over 3 days, SPARK will bring together 50 major creative and education partners from the UK and Hong Kong and provide a platform for cultural exchange. Events are open to the public and free, although most require pre-booking. Booking will open at the beginning of December.

Over the course of the SPARK weekend, Tai Kwun’s Parade Ground, Prison Yard, Laundry Steps, J Cube Auditorium and other nooks and crannies will be abuzz with the sights and sounds of the festival. Select satellite experiences will take place in other venues. To engage with students across Hong Kong, SPARK will also feature a schools’ outreach programme. 

SPARK’s Hong Kong and UK festival partners include the Hong Kong Design Centre, Hong Kong Design Institute, the Hong Kong and UK Science Museums, the Natural History Museum, the British Library, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, outdoor theatre company Walk The Plank, over 15 Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) from the UK and Hong Kong and many more. Celebrating the British Council’s 70th anniversary in Hong Kong, the festival is a place for debate, inspiration and visionary thinking, designed to ignite the spark of curiosity for science and the arts across all ages, but especially amongst the under 30s.

The SPARK programme is arranged into four themes:


Creativity is born when art meets science. Visitors can interact with some of the UK and Hong Kong’s creative visionaries working at the crossover of these two mediums. The University of Kent, for example, will present Cellular Dynamics, a performance blending cutting-edge biological research with a live recital by distinguished pianist Linda Yim of the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble and Hong Kong Baptist University. Meanwhile, students from Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts will collaborate with UK artists from Trinity Laban’s Conservatoire of Music and Dance to produce COLAB Journeys, a unique and experimental public performance of dance and originally composed music, with a soundscape created using the voices of the participants. 


From how to harness AR and VR to drive innovation in higher education to reimagining the past, visitors to SPARK can immerse themselves in the parallel universes of AR and VR. The University of Nottingham’s The Moment is a “brain-controlled” dystopian sci-fi thriller using a NeuroSky headset to detect participants’ EEG brainwaves, which affect the film’s edit, sound mix and narrative. With over 18 billion possible narrative combinations, lucky participants will create their own unique versions of the movie. Prison Break by Coventry University and the Hong Kong Design Institute will invite audience members to join a team of superheroes seeking to recapture dangerous escapees before they wreak havoc on Tai Kwun – using just their phones, ingenuity and English language skills. 


How can young people in the UK and Hong Kong prepare for life and work in a globalised society? Events in this category explore the creative skills and knowledge young people need to prosper in the face of AI, machine learning and other technological advancements. Theatr na nÓg’s musical theatre extravaganza Eye of the Storm takes STEM education to the stage, featuring an original music score by Grammy Award winning songwriter Amy Wadge, who co-wrote Ed Sheeran’s hit song “Thinking Out Loud”. Aston University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science will present Smart Cities Need Smart Students, an interactive exhibition demonstrating study routes for ambitious students who want to be part of the smart solution. 


Artists, scientists and designers will explore the role of creativity in the sustainability of developed urban areas. Everyone is welcome to share their opinion at the Hong Kong Design Centre’s Streetshop, an interactive exhibition gathering the public’s thoughts on quality of life in Hong Kong. Newcastle University’s Making the Invisible Visible will share the world’s largest real-time urban sensing datasets and paint a live picture of pollution, while a collaboration between Hong Kong-born musician and writer Emmy the Great and British data journalist Mona Chalabi will transform Hong Kong statistics into sound. 

Musician and writer Emmy The Great, aka Emma-Lee Moss, who helped launch SPARK, said:

‘I am so intrigued and delighted by the ideas behind SPARK and look forward to being part of a conversation throughout Hong Kong over the course of the festival and beyond.’  

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

‘We are delighted that so many partners across the UK and Hong Kong are collaborating for SPARK, united together in the celebration of creativity. We hope SPARK will contribute to a prosperous future for the UK and Hong Kong, inspiring our young people of today, our innovators of tomorrow.’

Mr Jack Chan, Under Secretary for Home Affairs, Government of Hong Kong SAR, said:

‘The HKSAR Government firmly believes that the nurturing of creativity and design thinking should begin at an early age and should take place both within and outside our education system. But while promoting creativity and design thinking is a priority area of the Government, we also need support from members of the design fraternity and participation of the wider community. We therefore very much welcome this timely initiative of SPARK by the British Council.’

Registration for SPARK events will open at the beginning of December. To book at this time or find out more about SPARK, visit the festival website or follow the British Council Hong Kong’s social media channels, where regular updates on the festival and its programme will be revealed.  

Facebook: BritishCouncilHongKong

Instagram: @britishcouncilhk

Twitter: @hkBritish


Notes to Editor

SPARK was launched at Tai Kwun, Hong Kong’s Centre for Heritage and Arts, where the festival itself will also take place from 18 – 20 January 2019.

About SPARK 

Inspiring ideas. Creating connections.

SPARK: The Science and Art of Creativity is a brand-new British Council Festival of Ideas. SPARK is a place for debate, inspiration and visionary thinking. It celebrates creativity across the arts, sciences and education, and offers a platform for cultural exchange between the UK and Hong Kong. With more than 30 events over three days and 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.

SPARK Creative and Education Partners 

Natural History Museum, the British Library, Hong Kong Science Museum, The Science Museum Group, Walk the Plank, Jacek Ludwig Scarso, London Metropolitan University, Aston University, University of Strathclyde, University of the Arts London, University of Glasgow, University of Warwick, Newcastle University, University of Derby, University of Lincoln with Hong Kong Design Institute, University of Surrey, University of Kent, University of Gloucestershire, Swansea University, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong Design Centre, Technological and Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong, Vocational Training Council, Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, Purcell, Hassell Studio, British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, Yew Chung Education Foundation, Institution of Civil Engineers.

SPARK Sponsors

Friends of the British Council, MTR, Clifford Chance, D8., GREAT, TAG|R, Virgin Atlantic

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. Last year 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. This year, they mark their 70th anniversary, celebrating 70 years of cultural relations and exchange between the UK and Hong Kong.