Cultural Frontline: Hong Kong’s Foo Tak building

BBC World Service

The Foo Tak building is a hidden artists’ hub in the centre of Hong Kong island. Fourteen storeys high, it stands inconspicuous amongst the futuristic malls and towering skyscrapers that have been crammed into this small, densely populated area.

We explore the building studio by studio, meeting an intriguing mix of experimental musicians, illustrators, conceptual artists, painters, community radio producers, academics and journalists.

Lack of space is huge problem for Hong Kong artists – this is one of the world’s most expensive regions to rent and buy property. But for 15 years the Foo Tak building has offered subsidised rents whilst remaining completely financially and politically independent. Managed by an artist-led organisation “Arts and Culture Outreach”, their aim is to improve Hong Kong’s art ecology by using the building to nurture up-and-coming artists and provide a home for underground, experimental arts and civil society groups. Previous residents include internationally-renowned artists Ivy Ma and Samson Young.

Moving from floor to floor, we interrupt workshops, live broadcasts, and even an experimental music concert. Many of the studios are keen to open their doors to the local community, offering a space for learning and collaboration. The artists here are actively responding to political issues, problems of urbanisation, censorship and questions over Hong Kong’s future.

Producer: Victoria Ferran

Broadcast Date: 16th February 2019