The Impact of Covid-19 on Cantonese Opera in Hong Kong
Lord Wilson Heritage Trust, Hong Kong SAR Government (HAB/C 27/9/167)
Principal Investigator: Prof. Chung Ming-Yan Fanny (Cultural Management, The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Co-Investigators: Prof. Chan Sau-Yan, Prof. Cheung Chin-Hung Sidney (Cultural Management, The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Cantonese opera was included in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of Humanity in 2006 and was officially listed as a national ICH in 2009. This inscription has generated significant momentum for the transmission and development of Cantonese opera in the modern world. By interpreting the historical landscape and secular customs of Guangdong and preserving Hong Kong's local linguistic characteristics and cultural memory, Cantonese opera has become a representative Lingnan traditional culture in Hong Kong.
In January 2020, the World Health Organization officially declared the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a major global public health crisis. Undoubtedly, the outbreak of COVID-19 has presented unprecedented challenges to the Cantonese opera industry. Similar to many parts of the world, performance venues in Hong Kong had to be closed for an extended period, and performances were suspended due to various epidemic prevention measures. As a result, many veteran Cantonese opera practitioners have expressed that COVID-19 has been the most disastrous period in the history of the Hong Kong Cantonese opera industry.
Embracing an extensive study that has spanned almost three years amidst the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, this project aims to offer an in-depth and comprehensive examination of the experiences and impact of the pandemic on the Cantonese opera industry. The study incorporates extensive literature review, document analysis, and field visits to triangulate various sources of data. Significantly, by capturing the firsthand narratives of industry practitioners, this study aims to understand the epidemic's impacts on different stakeholders within the Cantonese opera industry. Through this project, my intention is to make a meaningful contribution to the history of Cantonese opera, provide insights for its future inheritance and development, and raise public awareness regarding the significance of Cantonese opera transmission and its value as an Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH).