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Lawrence Chia

Capturing the opportunities of Hong Kong's growing art scene

BY LAWRENCE CHIA

Hong Kong is one of the world’s foremost financial capitals. Lately, our fair city has also begun to move in a more artistic direction. With our beautiful skylines and natural landscapes, artists have no shortage of inspiring views to fuel their creativity.

But art is also an up-and-coming industry in Hong Kong. With more and more art event and performance venues opening up like PMQ, the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre, Para/Site Art Space, the Yau Ma Tei Theatre, Hong Kong is rapidly becoming one of the top destinations for global art lovers. This is creating favourable circumstances for local businesses.

Greater China is now a world leader in terms of global art sales with US$5.6 billion in transactions last year, making the region more attractive than ever to artists, collectors, dealers, buyers, and art connoisseurs of all kinds.

Harnessing this edge has made Hong Kong an “Eastern hub” for the art world, with our reputation being increasingly enhanced by high-profile shows like Art Basel Hong Kong and a satellite fair launched this year called Art Central.

A gallery of possibilities

While traditionally the domain of the super-rich, art collecting and appreciation is now becoming more mainstream; and the Hong Kong business world is waking up to the possibilities.

Art Basel Hong Kong has just completed its third successful show. With the Hong Kong show being one of only three shows on the Art Basel circuit – the other two being in Basel, Switzerland and Miami Beach – the show’s presence here is a sign that we have truly “arrived”.

Painting a picture of success

Many businesses are benefitting from our booming art scene. Special skills and unique expertise are required to activate art events, meaning more opportunities for specialised event management and logistics companies, freight forwarders, insurance and securities companies which handle works of art – especially irreplaceable multi-million dollar auction items.

This new art scene is also creating opportunities for brands and marketers to become involved through sponsorship and alliance programmes. Smart marketers will identify opportunities for innovative engagement programmes on top of “just putting logos” on event names.

Brands seeking to project a classy and graceful image will naturally want to be associated with art events; however, marketers aiming at higher income groups and affluent people will also need to tap into ways to reach the event-goers.

This March, the Hong Kong Tourism Board launched “Hong Kong Arts Month”, aiming to display our flourishing arts culture to the world and boost visitor numbers. This annual event will undoubtedly intensify enthusiasm for both pure art and arts-related commercial activities during the month.

Financially, Hong Kong has always had to cope with a great deal of competition from places like Shanghai and Singapore. With Hong Kong now officially an “art-friendly” city, our star in the art world will continue its rise.

There is a lot of potential business for companies that are willing to stretch themselves and take advantage of the exciting opportunities this new and dynamic environment will present.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Hongkong Business. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Lawrence Chia

Lawrence Chia

Lawrence Chia is the Chairman and CEO of the Hong Kong-listed Pico Far East Holdings (Pico Group) (SEHK: 752).

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