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2005 Hong Kong Arts Festival Sets 33-Year High Sales Record

March 21st, 2005

Ballet Nacional de Espana's spectacular 'sold-out' performance brought the 2005 Hong Kong Arts Festival to its official finale on 20 March, with the overall sales setting a 33-year record high! 

The 2005 Hong Kong Arts Festival was one of the biggest Festivals to date, in terms of the number and the diversity of programmes.  The total sales grossed over HK$28.5m (US$3.65m), exceeding last year's sales by HK$2m.  Over 104,000 tickets were sold, exceeding last year's sales by 10,000 tickets and accounting for an average attendance of over 87 per cent.  Of the 123 performances presented, 83 performances had more than a 90 per cent attendance, with 75 performances - over half of all performances - sold out.

The 33rd Arts Festival offered 53 performing arts programmes with 123 performances plus two exhibitions over 33 days.  An array of exceptional artists from around the globe participated in the Festival, including 953 overseas and 304 local performers and crew members from 31 overseas and 10 local performing groups. 

Among the sold out programmes were:

  • The magnificent staging of the kun opera The Palace of Eternal Youth, with set and costumes by Oscar winner Tim Yip - an unprecedented Chinese opera event in Hong Kong.  It marked the most comprehensive staging of this opera classic seen in the last hundred years.
  • The complete Beethoven Symphonic Cycle performed by the Orchestra of the 18th Century, under Frans Bruggen, with the Gulbenkian Choir, was also an exceptional music event.  This was the first time in 20 years that the complete Beethoven Symphonic Cycle has been performed in one concert series in Hong Kong.
  • The National Theatre Company of China's Amber directed by Meng Jinghui, the most influential figure in Chinese contemporary theatre, and starring Liu Ye, winner of the Golden Horse and Golden Rooster Awards for Best Actor.  This music theatre spectacle  introduced the best of Chinese contemporary theatre to international audiences by the use of Chinese and English surtitles. 
  • The French Kiss by local playwright Chong Mui-ngam, which due to popular demand was staged for an extra night's performance.  This production has already been invited to Seoul by the Theatre Director's Association of Korea.
  • The  magnificent Russian Orthodox Choir, the remarkable Brazilian Guitar Quartet and the uplifting Blind Boys of Alabama - all of which performed extra concerts.

There were eight Festival commissions: Amber; Material Girls; Come Out & Play; i-City; The French Kiss; The Nightingale, an international collaboration between London's Yellow Earth Theatre and Hong Kong's Chung Ying Theatre; Little Prince Hamlet; and All That Shanghai JazzAmber, which was a co-commission between the Hong Kong Arts Festival, the National Theatre Company of China and the Singapore Arts Festival, had its world premiere in Hong Kong and will extend its run to Beijing, Shanghai and Singapore. All That Shanghai Jazz was also a co-commission between the Hong Kong Arts Festival and the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, Singapore.  The Hong Kong Arts Festival is leading the way in collaborating with regional arts organisations in bringing quality new work to the region.

The Festival's Young Friends Scheme continues to generate great interest among students. This year 5,700 students from 180 secondary schools and 22 colleges and universities attended 68 performances and rehearsals.  This amounted to an additional audience attendance of 10,000.

In addition to the Festival programmes, the Festival Plus programmes are an increasingly important component.  A total of 43 talks, lecture demonstrations, workshops, masterclasses, exhibitions and meet-the-artist sessions were presented as part of the Festival Plus programme.

The total operating budget for the 2005 Arts Festival is approximately $60 million.  The Festival's sponsors continue to offer generous support.  In addition to major funding support from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, there were 44 sponsors and over 450 individual and institutional supporters. Close to HK$12.8m (US$1.6m) was raised through sponsorship, donations and advertising.

The Festival also announced some of the highlights of the coming 2006 Arts Festival which will run from 9 February to 12 March 2006.  They include: Michael Tilson Thomas with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra; Mozart's Don Giovanni by the Semper Opera Dresden and Opera Nuremberg; Alan Bennett's History Boys by the National Theatre of Great Britain; Belgian dance company Rosas; the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; soprano Dawn Upshaw; and the Terence Blanchard Sextet.  Programme details will be released in August this year, and advance bookings will open in November.

A major international arts event and a premier arts event in the Asia-Pacific region, the annual Hong Kong Arts Festival is committed to presenting an annual festival of the highest artistic standards, featuring artists from around the world together with leading artists from the Mainland and Hong Kong.

For more information please contact the Festival's Executive Director, Mr Douglas Gautier, or the Marketing Manager, Ms Katy Cheng on (852) 2824 3555.

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