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Intangible Cultural Heritage

The Government attaches great importance to the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) and strives to raise the Hong Kong community’s awareness of the importance of ICH and the need to protect such heritage as our cultural resource. The Government supports the protection, transmission and promotion of ICH, and encourages the participation of the community in the safeguarding of ICH to ensure the continuing development of our local culture and traditions.

According to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (the Convention) adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), ICH is manifested in the following domains:

(a) oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of the ICH;
(b) performing arts;
(c) social practices, rituals and festive events;
(d) knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe; and
(e) traditional craftsmanship.

With the Convention came into force in 2006, the Government has taken the following measures to support and safeguard the local ICH :

  • In 2008, an Intangible Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee, comprising local academics, experts and community personalities, was established to advise the Government on the territory-wide survey of ICH and measures to safeguard the ICH, etc;
  • In 2014, the Government promulgated the first ICH inventory of Hong Kong consisting of 480 items (for details of the ICH inventory, please refer to the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD)'s website);
  • At the invitation of the Ministry of Culture, through three applications, the following 10 local items have been inscribed onto the national list of ICH :
    Year of inscription Item
    2006Cantonese opera* , herbal tea
    2011 Cheung Chau Jiao Festival, Tai O dragon boat water parade, Yu Lan Ghost Festival of the Hong Kong Chiu Chow community, Tai Hang fire dragon dance
    2014Quanzhen temples Taoist ritual music, Arts of the Guqin (the craft of qin making), Hakka unicorn dance in Hang Hau of Sai Kung, Wong Tai Sin belief and customs

    ( * In 2009, Cantonese opera was successfully inscribed onto the UNESCO's Representative List of the ICH of Humanity and has become a world ICH item.)

  • In 2015, the LCSD upgraded the ICH Unit originally under the Hong Kong Heritage Museum to an ICH Office (ICHO) to heighten various endeavours on safeguarding ICH. In 2016, the ICHO made use of the Sam Tung Uk Museum to house the Hong Kong Intangible Cultural Heritage Centre as an exhibition and education centre.
  • In August 2017, the Government announced the first Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Hong Kong (the Representative List), which comprises 20 items (for details of the Representative List, please refer to the LCSD's website).

The Lord Wilson Heritage Trust

Established in 1992 by the Government, the Lord Wilson Heritage Trust aims to promote the conservation of Hong Kong’s heritage. The Trust provides support to the conservation of Hong Kong’s ICH through various means including funding projects of conducting researches, producing publications and educational materials, organizing promotional and educational activities, holding seminars and conferences as well as other types of projects which help preserve or promote Hong Kong’s heritage.

Initiatives to Support the Development of Cantonese Opera

The Government has also been providing active support to the preservation, study, promotion and continuing development of Cantonese opera, which is one of the important forms of Hong Kong’s traditional arts and culture, in the following ways:

(a) developing performance venues for Cantonese opera;
(b) nurturing Cantonese opera professionals, promoting creative works and preserving the traditions;
(c) promoting Cantonese opera education, audience building and community participation; and
(d) preserving the essence of Cantonese opera and showcasing treasures of our cultural heritage.

The Government has set up the Cantonese Opera Advisory Committee to advise the Government on matters relating to the development of Cantonese opera in Hong Kong and established the Cantonese Opera Development Fund to provide funding support to projects and activities relating to the study, promotion and sustainable development of Cantonese opera.

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