Wong Keng Tei resident Mark Taylor is overseeing the Central Harbourfront Event Space where the equestrian ballet, Cavalia, has just launched and is galloping this month.
Mark is the former Technical Director for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department who can’t seem to retire. His career has been in facilities management for arts centres and after he left the government he set up a consultancy, then got involved in projects with Maureen Earls and David Rule.
Together they worked on what became the winning bid for the right to manage and operate the 36,600 sq metre open-field site in front of City Hall. It’s on reclaimed land next to the Wheel.
The site is under a three-year tenancy contract, “half used as a contemporary arts space and half an equestrian show,” at least for the time being. More events are scheduled including Red Bull extreme sports.
The horse show Cavalia, Jockey Club-sponsored, is running from March 31 through April. Conceived by a Cirque du Soleil co-founder, it is a mix of equestrian and performing arts with special effects. “Horses cavort with many performers in front of a constantly changing digital backdrop,” the organisers say.
Mark, a nine-year Sai Kung resident, has been in charge of the site infrastructure to allow the construction of a white Big Top seating 2000. While doing so he said he has had to help build the Art Central exhibition marquee on most of the rest of the space. This housed local and overseas art galleries plus displays of ink painting, photography, video and sculptures.
“The site will also host concerts, sports, exhibitions and festival events in the future,” Mark said. “You can rent space.”
When he first arrived in Hong Kong in 1984, Mark was Head of Production at the Academy for Performing Arts. Then he moved to the government running the technical side of 21 performing arts venues for 20 years.
Now alongside his work on the Central Harbourfront Event Space, he’s developing pre-fab theatres. “There is a big need for more venues in Hong Kong.” Long-running international musicals such as the Phantom of the Opera need more than tents, he said. “I’m designing varying sizes of temporary structures, the largest of which will seat more than 1600.”
He recently guided development of a large theatre for a Manila casino, while still finding time to teach a master’s course in facilities management at the HKAPA.