Fringe Evolution

Transform--City Festivals (1999-2010)

The year that we brought the curtain down on the Fringe Festival was also the year of the handover of Hong Kong by Britain to China in 1997. After that there was a palpable loss of interest in Hong Kong as a cultural destination because there were surprisingly no drastic incidents resulted from the handover.

 The bristlelike growth from the kernel of a cereal plant

In the aftermath, the Fringe Festival had to change its game, facing a big drop in the number of acts, especially those coming from overseas. The beauty of a festival fringe is that it gives the audience more than they can choose. If this does not happen, it will be like a fun fair with only a few game stalls open, rather pathetic. So we would either go under or come up with a new and viable concept to replace the old one. That was how the City Festival, an arts festival with a focus on urban culture, has emerged.

And we believe that, if the arts are to reflect or even spearhead change in our society, then this new festival must be relevant to our times. It must also have a meaningful, participatory, and even playful relationship - places, people and technologies - with our own city and cities in general.


The modern city has many layers. It is also rich in contents. The City Festival sets out to tap it for ideas, themes and trends. And to get to know our own city better, we look at how other cities live, work and play, from the perspectives of arts and culture. This is how the idea of the Spotlight City was conceived.

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