HKAPA Annual Report 2008-2009 - page 133

Graduation Day Speech
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Cultural Software: Here’s to the creative ones.
At the inauguration of Barack Obama, Elizabeth Alexander, a professor of English at Yale read, ‘Praise Song for the Day’.
Seemingly, it was the most widely heard poetry performance since Maya Angelou read her poem at the inauguration of
Bill Clinton.
I was there, in 1993, having travelled from New York on a similarly cold January day. Shivering for hours on end, I was
reminded of the vulnerability of human and cultural software.
And yet, few works of art are performed before millions.
Conditions for Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, playing before the 2009 Presidential swearing in, were such that they raised
the possibility of broken strings, cracked instruments and unstable tuning.
But then few works of art are performed before millions.
What people heard, watching on television, was a recording made by the musicians two days earlier and played on the
day in sync note-for-note.
Perhaps they too were reminded of the vulnerability of cultural software, human ware and hardware.
‘A broken string was not an option. It was wicked (
) cold’, said Yo-Yo Ma.
Temperatures at this year’s Cathay Pacific/Credit Suisse Hong Kong
Rugby Sevens were, of course, less extreme, but oh so wet. Rain or
shine, a newly-commissioned dance piece, from Raewyn Hill, Artist
in Residence in the Dance School, focusing on the athleticism and
beauty of dance and rugby, was shown repeatedly on large screens
around the stadium, and to millions around the world. It was all-
weather proof.
Few works of art are performed before millions.
Culture, and cultural software, like soft diplomacy, needs at least temperate conditions if they are to be fertile, in the words
of Lord Chris Smith, to be ‘… something you grow people in’. We were reminded of that telling phrase when this year we
hosted with, Home Affairs Bureau, the Clore Cultural Leadership Programme, taking forward last year’s ELIA International
Leadership in the Arts Symposium, on ‘building cultural software’.
With so much depending on development of cultural software, that is creative and resourceful people, for West Kowloon
Cultural District, it is emblematic that the Authority is being chaired at the most senior and appropriate level, and that
our strategic initiatives, collaborations and partnerships prepare for students for the opportunities ahead. So, here’s to the
creative ones.
Appendix 9.1
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