Barwo [八和會館*] has been the preeminent professional Cantonese opera guild since its inception more than a hundred thirty years ago, during the reign of Emperor Guangxu of the Qing dynasty. Its Hong Kong branch, The Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong, was formed in 1953. The non-profit philanthropic association not only carries out its mission of promoting the classical, traditional art of Cantonese opera to the general public, it also contributes to the propagation, preservation, and development of Cantonese opera, as well as the career paths and welfare of Cantonese opera practitioners.
Thanks to the efforts of its practitioners, board members, and the Cantonese opera industry at large, we have been actively working to preserve and propagate the art of Cantonese opera. With its aim to train young talents, The Cantonese Opera Academy of Hong Kong regularly holds classes for adults and adolescents on performing, instrumental accompaniment, and percussion training. In partnership with the Vocational Training Council, the institution has unveiled a series of courses, designed for professional performers, to engage in the task of preserving the Cantonese opera heritage. These courses include The Joint Investiture (course of a classical work) and courses in martial arts and tumbling. In terms of the continuation and preservation of the art, we have been, since 2005, fighting for the Sunbeam Theatre's lease renewal, as well as raising funding for its renovation on numerous occasions. Towards the goal of preserving and archiving the history of the art pratitioners, we have initiated the “Verbal Transmission History Series” program, for the systematic documentation of data of Cantonese opera partitioners; the institution has also aided in editing documents pertaining to the history of Hong Kong, such as Hong Kong Xiqu Yearbook.
The Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong has evolved over the years to encompass a vibrant collection of performing groups and venues. Such as the Bamboo Theatre event co-organised with West Kowloon Cultural District Authority. Their series of highly acclaimed opera performances before and during the Chinese New Year in 2012 and 2013 ignited strong positive responses from the citizens of Hong Kong. Another signature project is the Yau Ma Tei Theatre Venue Partnership Scheme,which is a joint venture with the Leisure and Cultural Services Department of Hong Kong that began on 18 July 2012, in which upcoming artists, guided by experienced art directors, have frequently staged Cantonese opera performances in the renovated historic Yau Ma Tei Theatre. It is the aim of the institution for Cantonese opera to become an integral part of the everyday life of the Hong Kong citizens, helping them to treasure a cultural heritage grown from the grass roots of Hong Kong. In September 2009, through China, Macau, and Hong Kong’s joint submission to UNESCO, the art of Cantonese opera formally entered UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list, aiding in the conscientious protection of this esthetically unique cultural treasure.
* 八和會館: 八-baat, meaning eight; 和- wo, meaning harmony; 會-wui, meaning gathering; 館- gun, meaning venue
Barwo's website (only available in Chinese)