“THIS IS MY CITY”. Each year in the last decade, these four words have been spoken in Macau, by Macau, with pride, with concern, in defence and in defiance — whispered excitedly to fellow-citizens and shouted to the far corners of the world. It’s a buzz that builds each year around a festival: THIS IS MY CITY. And that Festival is now ten years old.
A decade is a grain of sand on the shores of Macau’s fascinating history — yet for today’s Macau the past decade made all the difference, and the next one promises even greater changes. This is a milestone for the organisers of THIS IS MY CITY, and for every collaborator and participant, offering an opportunity to reflect on growth and achievement. But a decade is also just the beginning. And a thoughtful review of how far this festival and its city have come in the last ten years provides a chance to think big and take bold risks, to ensure the event continues to innovate in step with an accelerating Macau.
THIS IS MY CITY can build on its strengths. It has been an oasis of critical thought in a world that expects — encourages — people to ask fewer and fewer questions. It offers a programme of arts and discussion that demands we examine this place, and its place in the world. And in a climate of increasing isolation and division, the Festival has made a policy of inhabiting Macau’s shared spaces and communicating across Macau’s languages, so that its message is exclusive to no one, with a multidisciplinary approach to curation that ensures access for people of all cultural tastes and walks of life.
The festival has strived to eliminate the borders that encircle this city’s small confines, connecting it with the pulse of contemporary global culture by importing cutting-edge, thought-provoking expression from international art centres like Beijing and Lisbon, and in doing so honouring Macau’s historic role as a vibrant interface between East and West. Yet this underscores an opportunity to turn a new page, as we usher in a second decade.
Ten years is a lifetime on a technological timescale, and each new wave of modernisation revolutionises the world’s cosmopolitan centres, Macau among them. And like any thing that lives and breathes in such a space, a festival must adapt to ensure it continues to have a place in its environment.
To that end, the Festival, now at the dawn of its second decade, is blazing a new path through the digital landscape with the debut of its custom app for mobile devices, establishing a platform to connect the organisers, collaborators, media and participants to one another and to ever richer content, at a speed that keeps pace with today’s Macau. Perhaps most importantly, in an ongoing effort to transcend Macau’s frontiers, the Festival’s new digital toolkit will help it export as much of this city to the world, as the world it has thus far brought to this city. So those four words, Macau’s call to action — “THIS IS MY CITY” — reach farther than ever before.
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