Weeklong Festival Organized By Media Mogul Ricardo Pinto
Macau may be best known as the gambling capital of the world — the former Portuguese colony surpassed Las Vegas in gaming revenue back in 2006 — but this week a new literary festival looks to celebrate the city’s cultural side. Launched by media mogul Ricardo Pinto, the inaugural Script Road Literary Festival enlists writers, artists, musicians and filmmakers from Greater China and the Portuguese-speaking world to take part in a number of events through February 4 at the Macao Polytechnic Institute. Ranging from live concerts and readings to art exhibitions and film screenings, activities over the course of the week will feature guests such as Su Tong, Xu Xi, Jose Luís Peixoto and Rui Cardoso Martin.
As Ricardo Pinto told the Wall Street Journal this week, the Script Road Festival is geared towards boosting the visibility of Macau’s rich artistic and cultural history, which typically is overshadowed by the city’s massive gaming market. Said Pinto, “People need to stop complaining that Macau has no arts scene and actually do something to change it.” From the WSJ:
Mr. Pinto said he hopes the festival, which he intends to make an annual event, will celebrate Macau’s unique role as a cultural crossroads through a series of panels, workshops, film screenings and concerts.
“The idea is there are several ways of writing,” said Mr. Pinto, 49. “You can write for books, films, songs.”
[Pinto,] who moved to Macau in 1990 has been leading the way. He publishes [the local Portuguese-language newspaper] Ponto Final and dual English- and Chinese-language magazine Macau Closer, in addition to running bookstore Livraria Portuguesa, organizing cultural events and making documentaries.
He is fighting an uphill battle in a city whose crumbling center, designated a Unesco World Heritage site, is dwarfed by the dozens of casinos that generate nearly all of its tax money, and whose residents often eschew higher education and other opportunities to work in them.
Despite doubts about whether Macau can truly emerge as a cultural power — Macau Closer editor Nuno Mendonça recently wrote that hosting a literary festival in Macau was “a daunting task, almost like trying to water a desert” — Pinto is hopeful that The Script Road can at least raise the city’s cultural profile in the region, even as Hong Kong and Singapore attempt to do the same. Also taking place now, and running through March 8, neighboring Hong Kong is holding its 40th annual Arts Festival, an event that threatens to overshadow the Macau literary event. However, with everyone from resort owners to the Macau government looking for ways to diversify the city’s economy and reputation away from gambling in recent years, the Script Road Festival may be a good start.