How is art part of everyday life? Hong Kong group organises talk series to explore insights and lessons from creativity

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  • Organised by Central and Western District Association for Culture and Arts, Art of Life invites outstanding youth to discuss how creativity has influenced their journeys
  • The series started in June and will end in December, covering four themes: cultural heritage, positive thinking, technological innovation and art appreciation
Sue Ng |
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Art of Life is a series of talks that hopes to inspire Hongkongers to enjoy the creativity in every aspect of their lives. Photo: Handout

For Irene Lau Mun-yee, who started dancing at a young age, the performing art is more than a childhood pastime – it has shaped her into who she is today.

Now the chairwoman of the Central and Western District Association for Culture and Arts, Lau has organised a talk series, Art of Life, as the former dancer hopes to inspire others to incorporate art into their lives.

Co-organised with Central and Western District Office, the four-talk series started in June and will end in December. The event invites outstanding youth to share how art has influenced their lives under four themes: cultural heritage, positive thinking, technological innovation and art appreciation.

“Appreciating art can help us live our lives to the fullest as during the process, we can gain different experiences and insights in life,” the chairwoman pointed out. “And apart from self-cultivation, pursuing art can also generate positive energy for the city.”

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“All too often, when it comes to art, many Hongkongers would not consider it as a full-time job or a career,” said Lau, adding that many professionals actually had impressive artistic accomplishments.

Since leaving the stage 20 years ago, the dancer has engaged in community work, educating young minds about art and culture. In 2020, she started a youth cultural ambassador programme, aiming to raise young people’s interest in the local arts scene.

“We provide participants with leadership training programmes to know their strengths and weaknesses and give them a chance to execute their ideas,” Lau said. The programme now has more than 100 participants.

Hong Kong chess player Jet Chou Sai-ki shares how art has transformed his life in the first talk of the Art of Life series at Hong Kong City Hall. Photo: Handout

Martin Man Hei-tsun, who studied history in university, is one of them. As the 25-year-old has always been keen on culture, he volunteered as a project manager for the Art of Life series.

“This gives us [young people] a rare opportunity to learn about art and culture, as well as get a taste of working in the industry. Through organising the talks, I have learned a lot from the guests’ life stories and from event planning,” said Man.

He shared that the first two talks held in June and August were a huge success with a full house of 100 attendees.

“The responses were overwhelmingly positive. Many participants resonated with the speakers’ life stories and were impressed by the performances,” he observed, adding that the remaining two talks would be held in October and December.

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Looking forward, Lau shared that the association would organise Art of Life again next year, hoping to see more interaction between age groups.

“Art exists in various aspects of our lives, not only in performing arts like dancing and singing, but also in different aesthetics like architecture and archaeology,” she noted.

The chairwoman recalled how dance helped her find her calling to community service. Back in her student days, the traditional Chinese dancer amassed countless prizes at interschool competitions and in 1983 won South China Morning Post’s student dancer of the year award.

While competing against outstanding student dancers, Lau stood out because of her community involvement: “The judges valued how we contributed to the community as a dancer – at that time, I performed in different districts, bringing art and culture to the local community.”

Irene Lau (left) and Martin Man are passionate about how art can change people’s lives. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

When the student performer was given the chance to perform around the world, the experience not only broadened her horizons but also cultivated a sense of commitment to her home.

“Those opportunities to perform overseas ... helped me realise that instead of [only] onstage performances, art can also take place offstage to foster communication, train one’s discipline, and even contribute to the community,” Lau said.

“Through my work, I hope to pass on my knowledge and experience to younger generations, to inspire them to make an impact in our community and have their ‘art of life’.”

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