Fest all set for take-off
THE sky's the limit for Hong Kong Youth Arts Festival, says its organiser Lindsey McAlister.
And she should know for she brought the project to fruition almost single-handedly last year.
Now the 11-day extravaganza which begins in four days is bulging with more than 100 performances from 140 schools and community groups - more than twice last year's number.
It is this remarkable participation which marks the festival as something different - for it encourages the children to do their own experiments with art.
The festival has drawn budding talent from many cultures from the Discovery Bay International School to the Baha'i Youth Group, all aged between five and 25. And Ms McAlister is particularly excited that 90 local Chinese schools are joining in this time.
'The festival is bilingual and is not merely for the English-speaking students,' she said. 'Chinese students are dipping their toes in visual arts, and hopefully they'll expand their involvement in stage performances next time.' However, getting the territory's young people to believe they could create their own art has proved much easier than getting others to believe in the festival.
The event relies solely on ticket sales for cash. It has yet to receive support from commercial sponsors and the Government's Arts Development Council, though the Regional Council has provided free venues.
'We're disappointed at the Government's reluctance to commit to this young but worthwhile project,' said Maggie Fung Kwok Ching-yee, executive director of Business For Art, an organisation that helps Ms McAlister look for sponsors.
'But without the needed support, we aren't sure if there'll be another festival next year.' True to its slogan, 'Bringing Art To You', this year's festival has two ambitious projects. The District Youth Theatre Initiative has offered small grants to district art groups to encourage them to create performances for their local communities.
The Artists In Schools Programme, on the other hand, has invited nine professional artists to work with teachers and students in 17 schools in such mediums as mime, drawing, pottery, drama and stage management.
The festival has even provided an opportunity for an exchange with Australia's Canberra Youth Theatre Company who will perform the fantasy, Piper At The Gates Of Hell.
Some other highlights include theatrical works Earth Story, Peach-Blossoms Eyes, Nightmares, Fine Feline Friends, Lakota and Black Verse, a poetry presentation on the darker side of human nature.
Lending extra strength to the festival are the energetic Chung Ying Theatre and City Contemporary Dance Company who will conduct workshop-cum-performance projects with schools and universities.