Inaugural International “Arts for Peace” Festival
to Foster Awareness of Peace
The inaugural International “Arts for Peace” Festival, a first-of-its kind collaboration between the UNESCO Observatory for Research in Local Cultures and Creativity in Education (RLCCE), the UNESCO Hong Kong Association and several key international organisations, officially kicked off today (4 May) with a launch ceremony followed by a two-hour “Arts for Peace” experience held at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Wan Chai.
Designed to tie in with International Arts Education Week (mandated by UNESCO as the fourth week of May each year), the event was attended by an audience of more than 3,000. Among the host of dignitaries present were overseas guests from more than 20 countries (including representatives from the UNESCO Observatory for RLCCE’s nine international arts education co-organisers), Consuls General of more than ten countries and a number of high-profile guests of honour, including the President of the Asia-Pacific Federation of UNESCO Clubs, Centers and Associations and the UNESCO Chair in Arts and Learning, Canada.
The event itself was built around the “Peace for All” vision and featured a host of local and international participants, all united in their desire to unleash the potent force of the arts for peaceful ends. Recognising that the world today is beset by conflict and that restorative action is urgently required, Professor Samuel Leong, Director of the UNESCO RLCCE Observatory and Convenor of the International “Arts for Peace” Festival, drew the audience’s attention to the fact that 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of World War I while simultaneously reflecting on the fact that the arts are a potent force in promoting peace. “The messages that ‘Peace is Wealth for Life’ and that ‘the Arts reflect the prosperity of the soul and society’, are important reminders that it is peace, and not the transient gains of money or material possessions, that is the real key to individual fulfillment”, he said.
In recognising the Festival’s significance, Professor Patrick Lau Sau-shing, President of the UNESCO Hong Kong Association, said it was at the heart of the organisation’s aim of engaging Hong Kong as a fully equal and inclusive world city. “By fostering an awareness of peace and education for sustainable development through the powerful practices and processes of the arts, this event promises to be a unique and extraordinary experience for the audience – as they not only observe, but more importantly participate and interact in the co-creation of the peace message with the international and local presenters and performers taking part in the event,” Professor Lau said.
Drawing on the five aspects of peace – individual, social, cultural, political and ecological – the two-hour launch event highlighted the underlying community ethos of the Festival by gathering together individuals from a variety of backgrounds, including the disabled, children and senior citizens of Hong Kong. This emphasis on diversity and inclusivity, along with encouraging the audience to observe, feel and participate in the co-creation of the peace message, were crucial elements in enabling the event to achieve its ultimate aim of transforming the hearts and minds of the audience through the power of the arts.