OHKF “INSIGHT FORUM” Series
Adrian Cheng: “Reshaping Hong Kong’s Soft Power through
Arts, Business, and Social Inclusion”
(29 April, 2021, Hong Kong) At the “INSIGHT FORUM” organised by Our Hong Kong Foundation, CEO of New World Development Dr Adrian Cheng shared his vision of reshaping Hong Kong's soft power through the integration of arts, culture, business, and social purposes.
Making Hong Kong the International Capital of Culture and Arts
Adrian Cheng referred to the early 1980s, a time when Hong Kong had a robust and diverse popular culture industry that served the Chinese markets around the world. Once a leading cultural products exporter of the world, Hong Kong has since seen its cultural influence diminished nowadays. Public discourses on how to reshape Hong Kong’s soft power are therefore timely.
He pointed out that Hong Kong urgently needs cultural and arts development. “Culture and arts create personal, social, and economic values. They warm hearts and enrich lives, their soothing powers heal our society. Economically, developing cultural and creative industries is the direction that Hong Kong should take in driving a more diversified economic structure.”
Adrian Cheng believed that Hong Kong needs to create a "Silicon Valley of Culture" to preserve and pass on Hong Kong's traditions, culture, and arts. This will also help promote innovation and creativity, enhance the people’s appreciation of culture in society, and nurture arts talents. In addition to optimising culture-related policies, he advocated that all other policy areas must also take “culture” fully into account and give crucial consideration to it, so as to boost Hong Kong's cultural soft power and rebuild Hong Kong's image as an international capital of culture and arts.
Revitalising the State Theatre to Create an Urban Cultural Oasis
As the entrepreneur behind the development of Victoria Dockside, hailed as Hong Kong’s "Silicon Valley of Culture", Adrian Cheng is committed to fusing arts and cultural contents into commercial world. His goal is to create a unique ecosystem that combines culture and commerce that incubates designers, artists and architects, while blending culture and arts into daily life through business activities.
Following the success in creating the K11 brand that pioneers the blend of three essential elements: arts, people, and nature, New World Development acquired the ownership of the 68-year-old State Theatre Building in North Point last year, and subsequently announced an architectural conservation plan with the aim of preserving and remaking the historical features of the site, including the iconic parabolic exoskeleton truss at the roof. Moreover, the project strives to collect artefacts and oral history evidence related to the theatre that can showcase the building’s original glamour of the 1950s, and transform it into a new landmark for culture and arts.
Adrian Cheng saw architecture as the crystalisation of wisdom, history, and culture. Carrying a rich sense of cultural heritage and possessing a glorious past, the State Theatre was once an icon of Hong Kong's cultural and entertainment industry in its heyday, which swept across every Chinese-speaking region around the world. However, its glory has faded due to the absence of care and the passage of time. It needs to be preserved and revitalised to bring back its brilliant charm and transform it into a "cultural oasis" that brims with vibrancy and inspiration for future generations.
Creating Shared Value and Reshaping Hong Kong’s Cultural Soft Power
Apart from promoting the preservation and revitalisation of traditional culture, Adrian Cheng adhered to the ideal of "Creating Shared Value". This is reflected in the cooperation with social enterprises to build social housing. He is the first one in Hong Kong to establish an anti-epidemic fund in the early stage of the Covid-19, producing and distributing face masks to grass-roots communities, and more recently, organising a job fair with 1,000 job vacancies including new job types such as mask-marketers, mask developers, and State Theatre conservation ambassadors.
“Driven by the vision of creating shared value, New World Development encourages and promotes this vision among different stakeholders in corporations, the business sector, and the community,” said Cheng, “We champion sustainable development and local cultural incubation in order to instil a sense of imagination and new hope into society.”
Adrian Cheng believed that corporate success is inseparable from social progress. Corporate innovation and commitment to society are particularly important amidst the current challenging environment. He firmly believed that only by lifting a corporation to the level of a "new world" that is rooted in humanistic concerns, social advancement, and sustainable development, can we cultivate a new generation of game-changers, bring together creative ideas and cultures from all over the world, and reshape Hong Kong’s cultural soft power.
“Reshaping Hong Kong’s Soft Power through Arts, Business, and Social Inclusion”
Full live webinar: https://youtu.be/suWjN2NTVuM?t=336