Community Engagement through the Arts: A Hong Kong Collaborative Project

By Samuel Leong and Josephine Do.

Published by The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Hong Kong prides itself as Asia’s world city, recently launching the ambitious US$3 billion cultural and arts hub project—the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD). Its frantic pace of life is not graced with a strong level of interest in and knowledge of the arts. Indeed, there are prevailing misconceptions that the arts are unimportant, have little or no social value to the community, and that they belong exclusively to the elites and privileged few who have much free time on their hands. This paper discusses the planning, acting, observing and reflecting components of a community engagement project that was initiated to address the need to engage the Hong Kong community in the arts. This was a community partnership that comprised six sectors—the higher education sector, commercial sector, school sector, arts sector, media sector, and the general public. This successful collaborative mobile arts project resulted in the arts being brought into the community, reaching out to millions of people over a six-month period. This project adopted an action research approach involving the cycles of planning, acting, observing, and reflecting (cf. Lewin). This paper starts with the presentation of existing issues of the lack of community engagement in the arts in Hong Kong and the visions of the project, followed by the methods employed to realize those visions and a concise description of the actual “action.” The paper concludes with an evaluation and reflection of the project, which serves to inform the planning and implementing for the next season of the project to establish a sustainable community arts engagement project.

Keywords: Community Engagement, Action Research, Community Arts, Arts in Hong Kong

The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp.15-24. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 531.860KB).

Prof. Samuel Leong

Professor & Associate Dean (Quality Assurance & Enhancement), Faculty of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong, -, China

Samuel Leong (PhD) is Professor and Associate Dean (Quality Assurance and Enhancement) of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and Head of the Department of Cultural and Creative Arts at the Hong Kong Institute of Education. He is currently Director of the UNESCO Observatory for Research in Local Cultures and Creativity in Education and the Director of Research of the International Drama/Theatre and Education Association. He serves on the boards of nine refereed research journals and has been awarded competitive grants from the Australian Research Council, Hong Kong Research Grants Council and Hong Kong Arts Development Council. He has given invited presentations on five continents including the World Learning Conference, World Creativity Summit, and WAAE Arts Education Summit, and has been supervising and examining masters and doctoral research projects for two decades.

Dr Josephine Do

Assistant Professor, Department of Cultural and Creative Arts, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong, China

Dr. Josephine Do is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cultural and Creative Arts at the Hong Kong Institute of Education with ten years of tertiary teaching experience in New Zealand and Hong Kong. She has sustained an active career as an artist with a record of national and international exhibitions. Her current research focuses on identity, Chinese contemporary art, and community arts in Hong Kong. She is the Principal Investigator on four funded projects: “Arts Bus: On the Move!”, "Arts @ School", “Hong Kong Community Arts”; and “Who am I and What do I hope to become?—A Pilot Case Study on the Importance of Students' Self-identity in Higher Education, and its Relevancy to Education Outcome”. Her most recent publications include: Art–Education: Interviews with Ten Contemporary Artists (2010); Art–Education: China Arts and Artists Lesson Plans (2010) and Distance Artist: What are you working on right now? (with A.Lee, & P. Yiu, 2008).