Hong Kong Cantopop star Denise Ho has been forced to cancel her upcoming live concert in the city, after the venue suddenly terminated her reservation agreement less than two weeks before the event was to take place.

The Hong Kong Arts Centre (HKAC) informed the singer’s company of the cancellation in a letter on Tuesday, citing “circumstances where public order or public safety would be endangered during the course of performance of hiring.”

Denise Ho
Denise Ho. Photo: Facebook.

“The management of the Arts Centre is duty bound to observe closely the recent developments in society and the laws concerned. We have no additional information to provide,” the venue wrote in a letter in response to Ho’s company Goomusic’s repeated inquiries.

The venue also refunded Ho’s reservation fee of HK$127,800.

Ho’s live concert was originally set to held at the HKAC’s Shouson Theatre in Wan Chai on September 12.

The concert’s planned livestream, however, will go ahead as planned at 8 p.m. that evening. “Just as the pandemic cannot cancel springtime, music cannot be shut down. Where there are skies and earth, there is a stage,” Ho wrote in her Facebook announcement on Wednesday.

‘No proof or explanation’

Ho, an ardent supporter of the city’s pro-democracy cause, accused the venue of providing no evidence or explanation for the cancellation, despite several inquiries.

Denise Ho
Photo: Facebook.

The 44-year-old also refuted the notion that her concert could have endangered public order.

“We have thoroughly examined our released materials and show content, but could not see where or how this performance or hiring has the possibility to endanger, or will endanger, public order or safety at all,” the singer tweeted on Wednesday.

She questioned how the HKAC, an independent non-profit institution supporting local arts for the past 44 years, could make such a decision: “Established in 1977, with the objective to promote contemporary performing arts… we doubt very much where the HKAC is heading, and how they are going to face the public in the future.”

She also did not rule out legal action to recoup the losses arising from the cancellation.

Shousan Theatre HKAC
Shousan Theatre in Wan Chai. Photo: Wikicommons.

Fans who have paid for a ticket will receive a full refund, with details to be released later on Wednesday.

The Shouson Theatre is the HKAC’s largest concert venue, with a capacity of 439 seats.

The abrupt cancellation is the latest incident amid an increasingly hostile work environment in the city for celebrities who are affiliated with the pro-democracy camp. Last December, actor Gregory Wong appealed on social media for work to help with legal fees stemming from his involvement in the 2019 pro-democracy protests.

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Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.