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33rd Hong Kong Arts Festival closed: Feb. 17-Mar. 20, 2005
  Held each year just after the Chinese New Year as the district's only arts festival, the Hong Kong Arts Festival had its 33rd holding, 5-week run this year from Feb. 17 to Mar. 20. The festival began in 1973 after the forming of the Hong Kong Arts Festival Society Ltd. in 1972 as an initiative of the parties involved. In the 30 years since, the festival has continued to present outstanding music, theater dance and visual arts works from Asia and abroad, showing the world a wide range of works from different genre. This year's festival gathered a total of 1,264 artists from 32 countries for a schedule of 124 performances and 54 programs involving 42 overseas and 10 Chinese companies.
The opening event was a performance of Othello by the Polish National Opera, while one of the performances that drew special attention was a production titled Amber by the National Theater Company of China (Director: Meng Jinghui; Starring: Liu Ye; Dates: Mar. 3-8; Venue: Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre) Directed by Shanghai's avant-garde director Meng Jinghui and starring the popular Hong Kong actor Liu Ye, with music by artists from Beijing, this play drew attention as a joint production of artists from across China and Hong Kong. All 9,600 tickets for this production sold out immediately.
From Japan came Saburo Teshigawara + KARAS with a dance production titled KAZAHANA (Feb. 22, 23). They followed highlight performances by Bejart Ballet Lausanne and the Netherlands Dans Theatre III at the APA Lyric Theatre. The technique of the ten KARAS dancers, the exquisite lighting and the mechanical noise-like music of Neal Griffith all drew acclaim, and stage effects like a "waterfall" curtain spanning the entire stage also brought considerable comment.
The festival's budget this time was 60 million Hong Kong dollars (approx. 810 million yen, 1HKD=13.5 yen/7.8 USD). The breakdown is 16.44 million HKD in support from the Hong Kong regional government, 3.61 million from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, 13 million from corporate donations and 27 million from ticket sales. This year's ticket sales were the highest ever in the festival's history. In the Festival's membership organization there are some 6,000 domestic "youth members" and the Festival provides an abundant program of workshops and special free arts seminars for middle and senior high school students. These are a clear indication of the Festival's efforts to grow its audience. They also manage to keep ticket prices quite reasonable for both the general tickets and student discount tickets. For example, the cost of a reserved seat for a performance by the French orchestra is 460 HKD, while a cheaper ticket is just 150 HKD. This reasonable pricing for such world-class opera and orchestra performances has attracted a large audience from the mainland. The tickets for the most popular production on the schedule, Amber, ranged from 350 to 100 HKD. This is about the same as the average daily meal allowance for people in Hong Kong. Overseas tours of Amber and other popular productions from the Festival have already been planned. The director of the Festival this year was Douglas Gautier.

+ Hong Kong Arts Festival