Retail in Asia

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INTERVIEW with Duncan Pescod, CEO of WKCDA

The Festival will be a platform to connect the cutting-edge businesses and brilliant thinkers who will drive trade partnerships of the future, while highlighting the UK’s position as a global centre for innovation.

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Held from 21 to 24 March 2018 at Asia Society Hong Kong Centre, GREAT Festival of Innovation will showcase over 100 speakers across 60 engaging sessions, panel discussions and interactive workshops which will explore how innovation and technology is set to change the way we work, live, play and learn in the future.

THEME PLAY : On day three, speakers reimagine how we play, discussing how innovation, technology and creative thinking will alter the future of fashion, luxury, art and sport in a climate in which consumers are becoming curators. Highlight speakers will include Chester King, Founder and CEO of British eSports Association, Tom Aikens, Chef, Tristram Hunt, Director of V&A Museum and a leading historian and journalist, and Duncan Pescod, CEO of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.

Duncan PescodRetail in Asia met Duncan Pescod to ask about the festival but also the role of WKCDA in developing the creative industries in Hong Hong.

RiA : Can you tell us a bit more about your involvement with the GREAT Festival of Innovation this March, why are you excited to be involved?

Duncan : I see this event as a great opportunity to meet up with some of the leading cultural and arts practitioners from the UK to share their world-class experience as well as a great chance to raise the profile of the West Kowloon Cultural District locally and overseas.

RiA : What topics will you be exploring, and what are you most interested in hearing about?

Duncan : I am keen to listen to and learn from practitioners in areas of art and culture development and management as well as to experience the performances and exhibitions that will form part of this fascinating event.

RiA : How the have partnerships between the UK and Hong Kong benefited both places in terms of art?

Duncan : The partnership between Hong Kong and the UK is longstanding and strong. We share many common experiences as well as having our respective unique cultural practices. The mixing of Hong Kong’s Eastern perspective with the UK’s Western viewpoint has long resulted in flourishing links and some amazingly productive and creative projects.

Indeed, there are so many examples of collaboration between Hong Kong and the UK in education, design and performances, as well as cooperation on projects and productions. Just one recent case I would highlight is the agreement between the West Kowloon Cultural District and Wayne McGregor Studio to promote dance in Hong Kong.

RiA : How does this Festival contribute to that?

Duncan : I believe the Great Festival will further these links and provide new and exciting opportunities for people and organisations in Hong Kong and the UK going forward.

RiA :  Hong Kong has seen a great development in the creative industries. WKCDA is one of the most impressive projects realized in the last few years. May we know more about its scope and what we are going to see in the coming years in terms of initiatives?

Duncan :  The West Kowloon Cultural District project is a visionary endeavour for the people of Hong Kong. The development of 40 hectares of prime waterfront site in the heart of the City will transform Hong Kong’s already exciting cultural landscape by bring new Museums, new performance venues for Chinese Opera, Music, Theatre, Dance as well as collaborative performances across genres.

Even more than this: we will have indoor and outdoor spaces for large-scale performances for audiences of 10,000 people or more; We will have gallery spaces, educational facilities, rehearsal and development spaces for artists; We will also have commercial buildings, hotels, offices restaurants and retail outlets; Of course, there will be extensive public open space, including the magnificent Art Park, Artists and Central Squares and numerous pocket garden spaces.

Beyond this, the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority will be working with producers and artists from around the world, including the UK, to develop new productions and to bring world class performances to Hong Kong.
We are creating an artistic and cultural town within the city. Over the next few years as the Xiqu Centre, the Freespace, The M+ and the Palace Museum, the Exhibition Centre and other facilities open, Hong Kong will see a flourishing of the arts and culture that will have an impact locally, regionally and internationally.

RiA : In your opinion, what is state-of-the-art of art in HK?

Duncan : I am sure you will expect me to say this but it is absolutely true: there is no doubt that West Kowloon is the state of the art in arts in Hong Kong and will continue to be so as we develop and bring on-line further facilities over the next few years.

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RiA : WKCDA has been the chosen event space by some very prestigious brands. The use of public space for branding purposes is a very well-established phenomenon in the West, do you see WKCDA becoming an iconic venue in this way?

Duncan : Definitely. We recently had Hermes celebrating the opening of their new flagship store by hosting a major event in our Nursery Park; we have also hosted Mercedes Benz unveiling of a new model and of course major events such as Clockenflap and Road to Ultra regularly take place in the District, not to mention our very own, extremely popular Freespace Happenings.

I fully expect that we will continue to welcome such prestige partners to West Kowloon as we open the Art Park and other facilities in the next few weeks, months and years.