The Hong Kong Arts Festival (HKAF, or the Festival) has announced the retirement of Ms Tisa Ho and the appointment of Ms Flora Yu as the new Executive Director with effect from 14 November 2022.
Chairman Mr Victor Cha said: “We are very grateful for Tisa’s leadership and dedication through the years. We accepted her resignation with regret and respect her wish to move on to the next phase in her life. Flora is already an asset to the organisation. I have worked closely with her and have absolute confidence that she will perform well in her new role as Executive Director.”
Commenting on her new role, Ms Flora Yu, who served as Development Director of the Festival in the past ten years, said: “I welcome this opportunity to serve the Festival in a new capacity, and look forward to working with our extremely professional and experienced management colleagues to continue delivering inspiring Festivals. The organisation has managed its finances well all these years. In the coming days, I hope to work with our Board to further build the Festival’s financial strength and long-term stability so that we can sustain our core value of artistic excellence and continue to serve Hong Kong’s artists and audiences as a leading player of international cultural exchange.”
A smooth transition is expected as the HKAF has taken a long view on succession planning and the process was clearly defined by the Executive Committee. Ms Tisa Ho adds: “I am delighted to hand over to a colleague in the senior management team, someone who understands the culture, dynamics and the personalities involved, with a deep appreciation of the organisation’s strengths and the opportunities for development.”
Looking back on her 16 years with the Festival, she said: “I am grateful for every moment as part of this remarkable organisation, to have served inspiring Chairmen, enjoyed the trust and support of stakeholders and the opportunity to work with amazing colleagues from whom I have learned every day. It was a real joy to introduce new initiatives to support creative talent, and to reach new audiences.”
During Ms Ho’s tenure as Executive Director, the HKAF has strengthened its capacity as producer and publisher of original work thus adding significant new works to the local repertoire, while continuing to present and co-produce international work at the highest artistic levels. Ms Ho has also extended the HKAF’s scale and scope to include large scale and site-specific work, including: Zingaro, the equestrian performance in specially constructed venues in 2008 when Hong Kong hosted equestrian events of the Beijing Olympics, Power Plant at the Kowloon Walled City Park in 2011, and the interactive LEDs “playground” Super Pool in four different locations in 2017. She established “HKartsFestival@TaiKwun” as an annual event and started “No Limits”, the annual series co-presented with The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust to promote inclusiveness in the performing arts.
Tisa Ho has been the Executive Director of the Hong Kong Arts Festival since 2006.
Previous leadership in the performing arts includes supervision of government owned venues in Singapore; and management of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and Victoria Concert Hall. Special achievements included establishing the Singapore International Piano Festival, setting up the Alliance of Asia Pacific Orchestras, and building the first Shaw Foundation Concert Stage at Symphony Lake, Botanic Gardens. In her community work she was President of the Association of Women for Action and Research, Chair of the Council of Women’s organisations, represented the NGO sector in UN meetings on the Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women, and was active in the ASEAN Women’s Network as well as the International Women’s Forum.
In Hong Kong, Tisa has served on the Board of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival, and numerous advisory committees in education and in the arts. During her term as Chair of the Hong Kong Arts Administrators Association, she re-invigorated and professionalised the organisation, initiated the annual Cultural Leadership Summit and started a series of professional training activities.
Internationally, Tisa is the first Chinese to Chair (2019-2022) the Board of the International Society for Performing Arts headquartered in New York, USA. She has chaired the International Advisory Committee of the Tongyeong Concert Hall, South Korea, and is an honorary citizen of that city. She is on the International Advisory Committee of the Busoni-Mahler Foundation in Italy where she is also on the International Faculty of the Accademia Teatro alla Scala in Milan; and the Advisory Board of the International Association of Theatre Leaders.
Tisa was voted Master of The Arts by the American Chambers of Commerce in Hong Kong in 2020, and elected member of the Hong Kong branch of the All China Literature and Arts Association in 2022. She also received a Merit Award from the Government of Hong Kong for services to the arts in 2021. She is recipient of the Degree of Doctor of the University from the Griffith University in Australia in 2019, and an Honorary Doctorate from the Baptist University of Hong Kong in 2022.
Flora Yu has extensive experience and expertise in both the arts field and the business world. Professionally trained in various arts and management disciplines, Flora has spent decades working in strategic planning, marketing, communications and development as a member of the senior management of major arts organisations and leading commercial corporations in both Hong Kong and Mainland China.
Flora joined the Hong Kong Arts Festival as Development Director in late 2011, responsible for formulating fundraising and partnership strategies, and leading her team in nurturing relationships with corporate and foundation sponsors and donors, as well as other stakeholders and supporters. Under her leadership, the Development team has consistently exceeded annual fundraising targets to maximise the HKAF’s earned and raised income, crucial for sustaining and growing the Festival. She has also initiated and planned longer-term development initiatives and special projects aimed at further securing the financial stability of the Festival in the future.
Before she joined the Festival, Flora held senior management positions in the performing arts and commercial sectors, including serving as Assistant General Manager of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, head of corporate communications for the Shui On Group, and Deputy General Manager of Shanghai Xintiandi. She has also provided strategic counsel to international cultural institutions and commercial organisations interested in building their brands in Mainland China.
Flora is a Board Member of the Hong Kong Arts Administrators Association. She also serves on the Board of Actors’ Family, Hong Kong’s leading ensemble specialised in Cantonese-language musicals. To help nurture local talent for Hong Kong’s arts sector, Flora has also shared her knowledge and experience with university students as a guest lecturer on arts administration subjects.
Flora holds a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art from Wheaton College in the US, a Master of Arts in Literary Studies from the University of Hong Kong, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of British Columbia, Canada.
The 51st Hong Kong Arts Festival runs from 22nd February to 23rd March 2023. Stay tuned for more updates here