In the run-up to the opening of the Hong Kong Art Fair this week, the Financial Times runs Susan Moore’s helpful and information-packed backgrounder on the imporance of Hong Kong to Asia’s cultural ambitions:
Last year, the Hong Kong government approved a HK$21.6bn (US$2.7bn) budget to develop 40 hectares of wasteland at West Kowloon as a cultural district, including a museum, exhibition space and performing arts venues. If the powers that be get it right, the project has the potential to place Hong Kong firmly on the global art map.
It is already a major international art market – Sotheby’s began staging Asian art sales there in 1973 and Christie’s followed in 1986. Although a flourishing art trade subsequently evolved in Beijing and Shanghai, the fact that Hong Kong retained its status as a free port, levying no duty on the import or export of works of art, has assured it of the lion’s share of the Chinese market – 45 per cent. Crucially, that market has grown to become the world’s third largest, with annual sales estimated in 2007 at $3.8bn. Between 2003 and 2007, the turnover in the contemporary market increased more than 200 times.
Another significant development of last year was the staging of the first truly international modern and contemporary art fair in Hong Kong, ART HK 08. This unexpectedly polished affair attracted some 20,000 visitors and grossed $20m in sales. [ . . . ]
The government has expressed its desire to encourage this cultural economy and stimulate creativity, not least to further its stated ambition to turn itself into an innovation-orientated country by 2020. Made in China is to be supplanted by Created in China. According to Magnus Renfrew: “Asia will be playing a much more important role in all our lives. The art trade has recognised this and is taking a long-term view, but developing a strong contemporary art market here will take time and education.”
Despite the extensive quote here, the article contains much more valuable information and really is a must-read for anyone interested in the growth of the Asian art market.
Hong Kong’s Contemporary Art Fair (Financial Times)