Monthly Highlights
WKCD breaks ground on first venue Xiqu Centre
A giant leap towards becoming an international arts hub
The 24th of September, 2013 may just be another working day after typhoon Usagi's visit for most Hong Kong people, but it was also a critical day to remember for art lovers and practitioners in the region, as the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) team, members of the Board, senior government officials together with Cantonese opera budding talents and virtuosos gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Xiqu Centre, the very first landmark venue in the arts hub, signifying an important milestone of the project as well as the cultural development of Hong Kong.

A spectacular opening performance by the young talents at the Cantonese Opera Academy of Hong Kong.
Last December, leading Hong Kong-born architects Bing Thom and Ronald Lu were selected out of fifty architectural teams around the world to shape the Xiqu Centre. They have been working closely with the WKCDA team to deliver a world-class venue for the home of this important art form of Chinese cultural heritage. The design of the Xiqu Centre not only meets the requirements of this unique art form, but is also conceived with sustainability in mind with natural ventilation system and soft lighting. Energy consumption as well as capital and operating costs can be lowered through ingenious architectural and engineering solutions.

Scheduled for completion in 2016, the 7-storey Xiqu Centre will house a 1,100 seat Main Theatre, a Tea House, training and educational facilities as well as public open spaces, providing a platform for Xiqu communities to interact and develop the finest examples of Cantonese and other Chinese opera performances, and to nurture new artists and build new audiences for this remarkable art form.

Professor Lee Chack-fan (second right), Chairman of the Management Committee of Jao Tsung-i Academy, presents the Xiqu Centre calligraphy to the Authority on behalf of Professor Jao Tsung-i.
Officiating at the ceremony, Board Chairman Mrs Carrie Lam described it as a defining moment in the history of the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD), which will serve to strengthen Hong Kong's position as an international arts and cultural metropolis.

CEO of the WKCDA Mr Michael Lynch proudly proclaimed, "After extensive public engagement and the planning process, the West Kowloon Cultural District has now got off the drawing board and is being turned into reality. I am thrilled to see the start of construction works. Apart from continuing our design and construction works for other facilities, we will also focus on audience building through arts education and promotion."

Witnessing this historical moment, home-grown Performing Arts Executive Director Mr Louis Yu, who is also the mastermind behind the Xiqu Centre, was as excited as he was when he first heard of the WKCD project 15 years ago.

Group photo of the officiating guests and representatives of the Xiqu industry at the ceremony.
"It has been amazing to see how WKCD has turned from somewhere nobody knew to a very prime site where 100,000 people celebrated the Chinese New Year through a myriad of arts and cultural programmes early this year," said Louis. "But our job doesn't stop there. While we are working full steam in delivering the Xiqu Centre building, we will endeavor to present and produce top-notch works that can touch the heart of the present generation, making Xiqu Centre a best arts venue."

To prepare the audience for the opening of the Xiqu Centre, we will continue to organise performances, talks, education and research programmes and exhibition like the well-received West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre and the Xiqu Centre Seminar Series to build audiences and enhance artistic and professional development. With the continued support of the public and stakeholders, the WKCDA is all set to bring the Cultural District to reality and we look forward to greeting you at the remarkable performances in the Xiqu Centre in a few years' time.
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