Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific becomes largest corporate sponsor of West Kowloon arts hub in deal to fly in artworks and take artists abroad

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways has become the largest corporate sponsor of the cash-strapped West Kowloon Cultural District in a three-year collaboration that includes the flag carrier bringing in global artworks and helping local artists jet off abroad.

The pair launched the partnership on Saturday at a ceremony held at the cultural district, with Cathay Pacific becoming the exclusive travel partner of the arts hub.

Cathay CEO Ronald Lam Siu-por said the arrangement would focus on freight services, with the airline to transport artworks from mainland China and around the world to Hong Kong for exhibitions.

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He added the airline was already responsible for delivering many of the works on display at the Hong Kong Palace Museum and M+.

“Many artworks have been brought to Hong Kong by Cathay Pacific cargo services from all over the world and the mainland,” Lam said. “There are also many exchanges among artists, as we help artists from all over the world to come to Hong Kong and local ones to go abroad.”

Lam said the carrier would also promote the activities of the arts hub outside the city to attract tourists.

“We are very happy to take part in the collaboration with the West Kowloon Cultural District, and in the next three years, we can finally and strongly support the development of Hong Kong’s culture and art,” he said.

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Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee, CEO of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, said Cathay’s sponsorship would help with the hub’s overall revenue, as corporate backing was responsible for a large amount of its income apart from ticket sales.

Referring to the Cathay agreement, she said: “It has been the largest and most valuable collaboration so far for the district.”

Fung added that corporate sponsorship donations collected by the authority reached about HK$200 million (US$25.6 million) for 2022-23, accounting for more than one third of the total revenue for the year.

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“Corporate sponsorship is crucial to promoting the sustainable development of culture and art,” she said.

The underlying operating deficit of the cash-strapped arts hub fell in the last financial year to HK$718 million, 7 per cent lower compared with 2021-22.

The hub’s managing body earlier attributed the improvement to the reopening of borders and the city returning to normality after the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as its two museums – the M+ and Palace Museum – operating at full capacity.

The district’s operating income excluding interest and investment earnings jumped fivefold to HK$553 million in 2022-23, from HK$108 million a year earlier. Fundraising income also leapt to HK$197 million, from HK$27 million previously.


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