Developing talent in local arts scene is possible only with better funding

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 January, 2012, 12:00am


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In the excellent article, 'Little chance to bloom' (January 2), many good points about the local arts scene were made.

However, that only a relatively small percentage in groups such as the Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Hong Kong Ballet are locals is not surprising.

Circumstances in America and Europe are far different from here. Overseas, the pool of potential talent is far greater. That the New York City Ballet feeds itself from its own school is interesting, but the talent that enters that school may come from all over America, and indeed possibly from overseas as well. Hong Kong's population is not large enough for there to be sufficient numbers of people with the right artistic talents to feed the orchestras and dance companies we have here.

As well as this, the rates of pay for local groups are low by comparison with overseas groups of comparable standards, and this means that what talented people there are here often look for better opportunities overseas.

If we really want to improve the situation here, it will mean much better funding, from whatever sources. The West Kowloon project is a wonderful step in the right direction, but it should be supported by a much greater financial commitment to our city's performing groups. This would attract even better talent from overseas as well as encouraging local talents to want to stay here.

Performing groups are like football clubs. These do not rely simply on the local talent, but spread their nets worldwide if they want to be at the top of their leagues.

We should not be worried about the number of overseas artists in our midst, but rather put our efforts into improving conditions here generally.

David Gwilt, emeritus professor of music, Chinese University