Bid to conjure up a little more respect
Magicians in Hong Kong are struggling to advance their careers and status as they seek formal recognition from the Arts Development Council.
'Many people think that magic is not professional and is something to be used for leisurely purposes only,' said Thomas Yau Ka-lap, president of the Hong Kong Magic Industry Association.
The association, established one year ago and consisting of just 10 members, has set out to change all that.
Speaking at the launch of the annual Hong Kong Magic Festival in Diamond Hill, Yau said the group planned to assess and license magicians. 'Without this system, anyone can call themselves a professional magician if they wanted to. Having a licence would earn serious magicians more respect,' he said.
Aspiring magician Alex Choi, 18, said event planners would often reject him and his peers for a job because of their young age. With no official accreditation, he said, it was difficult for magicians to promote themselves to potential employers.
'If I had the opportunity to, I would definitely like to test [for a licence],' he said.
While magic is becoming increasingly popular among young people in Hong Kong, it is difficult to say how many magicians are currently practising their craft. But Yau estimates about 50 magicians have obtained licences from overseas.
This was not easy though, Choi said. 'People think learning magic is very easy and just involves buying props from magic stores,' he said. 'However, it takes a lot more practice and skill then that.'
Choi has been practising magic for five years, while 13-year-old Alvin Chung has been doing so for four years.
Learning magic is not limited to the young, though. David Man, associate professor at the department of rehabilitation sciences at Polytechnic University, said magic could be good for the mind and a form of health promotion when used as recreational therapy for older people and those recovering from illness.
The Hong Kong Magic Festival continues for three more days, with 35 magicians competing for the championship.