Dr Tisa Ho Kar-kuan
Honorary University Fellow (2022)
The arts have always been an integral part of Dr Tisa Ho’s life. She first took to the stage and participated in plays when she was in kindergarten. In secondary school, she fell in love with music and began singing, playing the piano, clarinet and guitar. While pursuing her English Literature studies at the University of Hong Kong, she actively worked on and behind the stage.
Upon graduation, she furthered her interest in the arts and travelled to France and the United Kingdom to study arts administration, before taking up key positions in the Singapore International Festival of Arts and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. After more than ten years, she returned to Hong Kong, the city where she grew up, for work. Since 2006, she has been serving as the Executive Director of the Hong Kong Arts Festival.
Dr Ho’s commitment to the promotion of the arts is a rational, rather than emotional, decision. To her, it is not a job but a personal mission, because she believes that the arts possess high educational power that can enrich lives and cultivate people’s character, develop their potential and broaden their minds. Everyone is equal before artistic works, which helps promote social inclusion.
Dr Ho believes that after experiencing a series of challenging situations in recent years, there is an imperative need to promote arts activities to Hong Kong people. Through the arts, she hopes to nourish everyone’s exhausted mind, and provide space for the younger generation so that they may understand the world with an appreciative attitude and have their horizons broadened.
Promoting the arts is a difficult and complicated task. On the one hand, it is necessary to be at the forefront and cultivate the public’s artistic knowledge; on the other hand, we must not detach ourselves from the public and be out of touch. During her 16 years as the leader of the Hong Kong Arts Festival, Dr Ho has always tried to maintain this balance and her results have been critically acclaimed. Apart from introducing exciting overseas programmes to Hong Kong, she has actively nurtured local artists, provided quality art education, and promoted social inclusion through the arts.
It is certainly no easy task to coordinate hundreds of excellent programmes each year, but according to Dr Ho, the most challenging time came when the world was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many wonderful programmes of the Hong Kong Arts Festival could not go ahead as scheduled over the past two years. Despite the challenges, Dr Ho and her team didn’t give up. With the support of technology, they managed to present the programmes online, allowing their audience to enjoy the performances by numerous outstanding local and international artists without leaving home. Dr Ho believes that the integration of the arts and technology has become an increasingly popular trend, not only because it can mitigate the pandemic’s impact, but also because technology can elevate the arts to a new level and generate endless possibilities.
The Hong Kong Arts Festival continues to be a remarkable success, Dr Ho attributes the accomplishments to her team, and she considers teamwork to be the most important factor. As a leader, it is her role to engage with her colleagues and let them shine. She also encourages young people to widen their horizons, pursue their dreams, and work together as members of society to foster a better tomorrow.
Dr Ho is a leading and well-known figure in the arts world. She was the chairlady of the Board of Directors of the International Society for the Performing Arts —the first-ever arts administrator from Hong Kong to hold this position. She was also a member of the Board of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival as well as the Hong Kong Arts Administrators’ Association. She has also chaired the International Advisory Committee of the Tong Yeong Concert Hall, South Korea, served as a member of the Alliance of Asia-Pacific Region Orchestras, and on the International Faculty of the Accademia Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy. She was awarded an honorary doctorate by Griffith University in Australia in 2019, and she was named the winner of the Master of The Arts category at the Women of Influence Awards by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong in 2020. In 2021, she was elected to the China Literature and Art Critics Association and granted a Medal of Honour by the Hong Kong SAR Government for her accomplishments in the promotion of the arts.
Dr Ho has been connected with Hong Kong Baptist University for many years, and she is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Academy of Music. She actively supports the development of the creative arts and art-tech at HKBU. With her strong network in the creative industries, she will join hands with HKBU to help Hong Kong develop into a cultural and arts hub in the future.
Dr Ho has been working in the arts field for her whole life, and has contributed profoundly to the development and promotion of the arts in Hong Kong. Throughout her career, she has been committed to promoting the arts with energy and enthusiasm. Her dedication and spirit of continuous innovation make her an exemplary role model for young people, especially students at HKBU.