The Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong (also known as Barwo) was established in 1953 .
Barwo decided to establish a preparatory committee for the "Cantonese Opera Training School".
By establishing formal training courses for Cantonese Opera actors, a new direction has been identified on top of the traditional practice of "Passing the Art and Skill from Masters to Apprentices". Hence, talents aspiring to learn about the art of Cantonese Opera could receive systematic training in the field.
Address of the Association: The old address of the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong on Argyle Street
13 January 1980
The School of Cantonese Opera of the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong held its School Opening Ceremony
15 January 1980
The first Cantonese Opera Training Course commenced
15 February 1980
The second Cantonese Opera Training Course commenced
15 January 1982
The first intake of students graduated from the COA. The three classes of Sun, Moon, and Stars performed Love and Hatred at the Academic Community Hall
17 May 1983
The second intake of students graduated from the COA and performed excerpts at the Hong Kong City Hall
The third Cantonese Opera Training Course commenced
Students of COA performed at the programmes organized by the Urban Council
Courses were temporarily suspended due to interior renovation of the COA
The Academy decided to conduct a trial run of courses for another six months. The fourth intake of students commenced studies in April and graduated in 1991.
The Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong bought a new premise at 1/F, 310 Lai Chi Kok Road and named the venue " Fong Yim-fun Hall".
Chairman Liza Wang proposed to independently register the "COA" as a non-profit organization and apply for funding from the Government in order to re-run courses offered by the Academy
Co-organized Cantonese Opera courses with academic institutions for the first time, so that training courses for actors of Cantonese Opera could be designed and evaluated in a more standardized way. Meanwhile, the courses could also provide socially recognized qualifications.
The “Cantonese Opera Academy of Hong Kong (COA)” was registered as a non-profit organization and also became a charitable organization.
Collaborated with the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and jointly organized "Certificate Course in Cantonese Opera Training (Elementary, Advanced)"
The Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong purchased a unit at Flatiron Court, Tung Choi Street, as the office of the Association, officially opened in 1998.
Collaborated with the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and jointly organized "Certificate Course in Cantonese Opera Training (Elementary, Intermediate, Advanced)"
By 2004, the COA organized the "Cantonese Opera Training Certificate Course" and Canonese Opera Percussion Course" through its own effort, with Mr Leung Hon-wai serving as the artistic director. In 2005, the "Instrumental Accompaniment Course", taught by Mr Mak Wai-man, was added.
In 2006, scriptwriting course was added. Meanwhile, a series of short courses were also offered for members of the community.
In order to keep up with the pace of the development of times and the needs of society (at that time, the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts was already offering full-time courses on Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Performing Arts (Cantonese Opera)), the COA changed its direction in 2007 under the initiative of Dr Liza Wang, the 33rd Chairman of the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong, through which the Academy has repositioned itself for the academic year of 2008-2009. New strategies were formulated in order to achieve new development and breakthrough in Cantonese Opera education, with Mr Lui Kwong-hung serving as the course director. Apart from retaining the popular "Course on Instrumental Accompaniment" and "Cantonese Opera percussion Classes", the Association redesigned the scriptwriting curriculum and organize training courses that targeted young people and in-service artists. Meanwhile, the "Scriptwriting Course for Cantonese Opera", organized and taught by Mr Yip Shiu-Tuck, a famous scriptwriter in the field of Cantonese Opera, was launched in 2008. At the same time, the COA also collaborated with the Centre for Advancement of Chinese Language Education and Research (CACLER) under the Faculty of Education of the University of Hong Kong to organize and systematize the contents of the scriptwriting course. Mr Yip’s last wish was to "cultivate a prosperous field of Cantonese Opera that allows the students of the scriptwriting course to apply their knowledge into practice." In the two intakes of the scriptwriting course, many talents were trained, such as Mr Leung Chi-yan, Ms Mak Shun-ling, Ms Tse Hiu-ying, etc. Many of the students' works were given opportunities to be staged.
Meanwhile, the COA also launched a "Skills Upgrading Programme" that aimed at improving the artistry and techniques of existing artists, in which a series of practical courses were launched, such as techniques for playing "Walk-on" parts on the stage of Cantonese Opera, advanced training in singing and speech in Cantonese Opera, practical skills in "Tan Zi Gong" (skills performed on rugs or mats, e.g. somersaulting and pouncing and falling), advanced training on Bazi Gong (martial arts with weapons) on the stage of Cantonese Opera, traditional performance of southern style skills on the stage of Cantonese Opera, etc. In addition, a four-year "Course for Young Cantonese Opera Performers", taught by professional tutors and experienced artists of the Association, was also established to target young people with potentials in Cantonese Opera. Such a systematic framework allows the new generation of Cantonese Opera art successors to be trained in a gradual and orderly manner according to their aptitudes and talents.
In 2011, the Hong Kong Arts Development Council changed the mode from one-year to two-year when providing subsidy to the Academy. Since 2013, the two-year subsidy model was further changed to three years. At present, the COA has successfully promoted the sustainable development of Cantonese Opera art by nurturing talents. Through the teaching delivered, the Academy also hopes that the students can learn and gain knowledge in both the aspects of moral and art. It is hoped that while possessing a solid foundation in performance in art (singing, acrobatics, recitation and acting), the students could also understand the performance procedures while inheriting and passing on the characteristics of traditional Cantonese Opera. In terms of acting ethics, the Academy hoped that the trained actors could learn how to respect their tutors and teachers, forge ahead, keep integrity and promises, and care for each other. Since the training on Cantonese Opera must starts from an early age, it is therefore necessary to promote among youngsters in order to ensure that sufficient number of students can be recruited for professional training in Cantonese Opera. Once a group of students has been recruited, the individuals with development potential, identified through dedicated and professional training, can then be given focused training for artistic excellence. In terms of emerging artists, the Academy concentrates on training young actors (average age of 13-18). Meanwhile, specialized training is also offered to in-service artists and practitioners (positions other than artists).
Currently, the major categories of courses offered by the Academy include the following:
-Training for Emerging Artists: Course for Young Cantonese Opera Performers, Support Scheme for Students Graduated from the Course for Young Cantonese Opera Performers
-Training for Professional Artists: "Cantonese Opera Percussion Course for Cantonese Opera", Course on Music and Singing Styles for Cantonese Opera, etc.
-Professional training for Practitioners of the Cantonese Opera (for posts other than artists) – “Scriptwriting Course for Cantonese Opera”, “Certificate Course for Costume and Props Assistants (wardrobes) in Cantonese Opera”, “Basic Certificate Course for Makeup and Hair-styling Assistants in Cantonese Opera”, “Course on Instrumental Accompaniment for Cantonese Opera”, “Application of Stage Lighting in Cantonese Opera” etc.
-Popularize Cantonese Opera education: "Cantonese Opera Course for Primary School Students", "Cantonese Opera Course for Junior Secondary School Students", "Cantonese Opera Course for University Students", etc.
The main instructors of the "Course for Young Cantonese Opera Performers” include Mr Lui Hung-kwong (course director), Mr Tam Siu-wai and Mr Cheung Yee-kin (singing instructors), Mr Han Yanming, Mr Tsai Win-wei, Mr Cheng Fook-hon and Mr Ling Chit-Fai (instructors for basic skills), Mr Zhou Zhenbang and Ms Leung Fei-tung (instructors for Bazi Gong (martial arts with weapons)). Furthermore, many senior artists in Cantonese Opera also served as guest tutors for the course. Since the first intake of students in 2009, the "Course for Young Cantonese Opera Performers" has produced five batches of graduates till now. Graduated students with development potential include ......, etc. In order to broaden the students' horizons, the Academy also led students and graduates of the "Course for Young Cantonese Opera Performers" to Guangzhou, Macau, Beijing and other places for exchanges, learning and performances in 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018.