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Hong Kong’s Mega Events Fund is a great idea! Sadly, the committee is stuck between a rock and a hard place. They have a large amount of money they would love to give away to event producers yet the rules and regulations are as such most events just can’t qualify. Since Harbourfest (which was a great event btw) the media and the public is very critical of public money being spent on live events. This creates a difficult scenario for the MEF committee who’s mission is to make Hong Kong “The Events Capital”. When they do go out to support a major event even one as popular as the Man United vs Kitchee exhibition match they get blasted because there are not enough tickets for the public or questioned as to why taxpayer money should go to appearance fees for Man U players?
In 2005 I organized “Eventworks” a half day seminar for the event community. As part of the program we had and esteemed panel of speakers discussing “The Future of Events in Hong Kong”, our panel included the head of PR from The Convention and Exhibition Center, Head of technical production for Jack Morton Worldwide and the Assistant Commissioner for Tourism. During the discussion to much murmur and excitement it was announced that the government would be creating a fund to enhance the event capabilities in Hong Kong. Over the next month the Mega Events Fund was rolled out and the board assigned with the task of doling out the fund was chosen. As the details of the fund emerged and how the money was to be allocated the excitement quickly abated. It was apparent from the beginning the fund was would only be useful to the nonprofit groups organizing events solely for the public, mostly local community based events and by no means had anything “mega” about it.
I watched as The Fund limped along for a couple of years supporting dragon boat festivals, lion dances and other ‘community events’ with the occasional tag line along the bottom of a pvc banner, another wonderful idea created impotent by a bureaucrats frightened to alienate any small sector of the reactionary tongue lashing public.
I imagined the initial conversation within the government offices,
“Events are a major part of a international city, Hong Kong needs more events, why don’t we create a fund that event managers can go to help them create spectacular events that will make Hong Kong an event capital of Asia!”
“Great idea! lets do it!”
“But what if the events are really successful and people make money from it?”
“MMM …you’re right, we cant look like we are favoring any one sector people will complain”
“Unless they are the property or shipping sector”
They all laugh uncomfortably …
So a couple years go by and they can’t give the money away and they come up with a two tier system allowing for profit making events and a profit share deal with the government. At the same time in order to identify possible events they could partner with, the MEF commissioned a consultant, a long time friend of the government with enormous experience in the construction industry. Although the consultant was very eager to learn, to listen and open to ideas, and listened to my presentation their mandate was to “identify potential mega events that could be brought to Hong Kong”. This is where it becomes apparent that the committee lacks knowledge about the nature of events (they only have one full time event pro rest are career civil servants, PR pros, hoteliers and accountants). Although there are some events that can be transplanted (sporting matches, like The World Cup, some Yachting races) mega events that can move are few and far between. Events by their nature are intrinsically tied to the community and the locale in which they were born. Events belong to the participants. Events are gatherings of people that share a common bond, these bonds are organic in their growth and require a fertile ground to grow.
Sadly the requirements for the Tier 1 applications are set at such a level and must attract such a large numbers of overseas visitors that only large legacy events are really eligible. No one realized that these types of events are already self sufficient and have no need for this type of government assistance or have deep roots in their present location and are ‘un-transplantable’. In order for the Mega Events Fund to be successful it needs to act like a real investment fund. It needs to take risks with small start ups in our community and to help these small but eager event managers to create unique Hong Kong events. The civil servants on the MEF board should use their influence to smooth pathways of permission to allow unique, unused and undiscovered venues to be used. Help to sway the powers that be to try creative untested ideas. This will draw people from around the world to our diverse and creative city. Then the Mega Events Fund will succeed in making Hong Kong the “Events Capital of Asia”.
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Hong Kong’s biggest challenge in the world of events has always been the scarcity of venues. For those of us that have tried to do an event in an alternative space we are so often faced with such a cacophony of “oh dear” and “what if?” and “we’ve never done that hear before” that we run back to our safe little hotel ballrooms and convention halls.. Well there is a group that is working on changing that. Meet Very Hong Kong…
The folks behind VeryHK are mostly architects. About a year ago they were in Europe giving a presentation on Hong Kong and the use of space when they realized just how underused and wasted public space in Hong Kong is. The envision artistic and creative happenings in those wonderful scenic spaces under flyovers, alleyways that lead to nowhere, streets and cozy neighborhoods with little traffic, sitting out areas and parks… They came back with a mission, a mission to show the government and the Hong Kong people just how useful these places are and how a thriving cultural world city can use their space creatively.
So the folks at Very launched a very ambitious festival with back to back events in various locations across the city. None of them are event planners and when they started out on the project I don’t think they quite knew what they were getting into. I met with them last week to look over the plans for these events and offer any tidbits of sagely advice I could. As you would expect from architects their drawings and layouts were spectacular and used the space well. Overall I was very impressed, the styling was cool the planned experiences were very creative and seemed like would be well received by the public and all the events were suitable for local and expat audiences. Generally everything looked great and although the team seemed so stressed their eyeballs were about to bleed the plan looked good to go. We focused on some risk management and tweaks to take the experience up a level, I wished them well and said “call me if you have any questions”, I only got one call about the recommended number of first aiders per participants onsite…
So today I was very excited to attend the first VeryHK event… and it was excellent.. located in Kwun Tong under a flyover, the space was conveniently located two blocks from the MTR and near some public toilets. The event had a large hands on art component, classical performances by talented young musicians and an interesting swap meet sort of thing… The crowd was thick and everyone was involved, participating and having fun. I look forward to seeing how the next week goes with the other seven events they have planned.. Especially the Very Big screen, a free out door movie theatre and picnic all week at the old Tamar site… check out their site for the schedule and updates www.veryhk.org
Glad to find other performers and artist... I\'m a magician with some circus skills although I hardly perform anymore as I am too busy producing live events. ...Read more
|English Name||Robert Rogers|
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