CCL Alumni in Focus: Vicki Ooi, The Absolutely Fabulous Theatre Connection

Vicki Ooi is artistic director of the Absolutely Fabulous Theatre Connection (AFTEC) based in Hong Kong.

AFTEC is involved in the proposal to set up a new cultural festival in the village of Sha Lo Wan, Hong Kong. Sha Lo Wan is a bay in northwest Lantau Island, Hong Kong, next to Hong Kong airport. Access is by foot or ferry only, leading to depopulation of the local villages. The ambition of the festival is to inspire cross-disciplinary and creative approaches to environmental and social challenges, bringing hope, inspiration, and civic pride to the local community.

This is the very first festival that this organisation has created. Through a CCL in Action mentorship grant, Vicki connected with Steve Taylor of Ideeas ltd, Scotland, UK. Steve Taylor is an experienced festival advisor who has previous international experience looking after sustainability at events and festivals, and has built a good network of contacts across the festival sector. In 2018, Steve travelled to Hong Kong to survey the festival site and advise the AFTEC on sustainability and management issues. Steve and Vicki agreed that it would beneficial for members of AFTEC to visit and shadow the set-up of an already established festival. AFTEC visited the Heb Celt festival in Scotland, which has now been running for 23 years.

During the five-day visit to Heb Celt, AFTEC undertook a variety of meetings and site visits to gain greater insight into issues like sustainability, local community engagement, transport and other logistical planning. While in Scotland, AFTEC were also interviewed by BBC Alba, outlining what the team were doing in Stornoway. They also attended Gaelic lessons, which form part of the festival’s external outreach work. 

This exchange culminated in the first edition of the Flight Festival in Sha Lo Wan – a four-day community and arts festival celebrating arts and science, with partners including the Eden Project in Cornwall. The festival features music, theatre, science and art workshops, dance, and participatory experiences attracting ca 1000 visitors.

Image: Vicki Ooi at Creative Climate Leadership. Credit, Jorge at Studio Cano. Reproduced with permission of Julie’s Bicycle