Sabrina Ho needs no introduction, but just for those who might have been living under a rock, she’s basically a superwoman. She’s the eldest daughter of Stanley Ho and Angela Leong, and executive director and CEO of Poly Auction Macau. Sabrina is a serial entrepreneur who has had a career that many people can only dream of and she’s just getting started. We caught up with her while she was gearing up for the third Poly Auction Macau.
As the Executive Director and CEO of Poly Auction Macau, could you tell us a bit about the company’s history?
Poly Auction Macau Limited was founded in 2015 by Poly Auction Hong Kong Limited and its partner in Macau, Chiu Yeng Culture Limited. Poly Auction Macau aims to become Macau’s most dynamic auction house and best communicator of art and culture, as well as a leading force in the continuous development of Macau’s cultural industry.
You’ve now done the third edition of Poly Auction Macau, how was the feedback?
The first two editions were a great success and we will continue to work hard to meet expectations. Now on the third edition, we are more and more familiar with the taste of Macau collectors and we can fine tune which pieces to present to our market. For the first time, we are including western artists and we have included more figures which is also something new and seldom seen in auction houses.
Looking back, all three editions have always featured collector’s pieces, some incredibly valuable and rare. How and where do you acquire these pieces?
We get them from various different art collectors as well as the artists themselves across the region. Often, these collectors or artists might not be willing to auction these valuable and rare pieces. To invite them to auction their collection or art pieces is like an in-depth exchange – an understanding of creative concept and the thoughts behind the artist or the collectors’ collection and how to pass them on.
You are one of Macau’s youngest and most successful entrepreneurs. How has the city influenced your path?
Macau is a lively and dynamic city with a good mix of cultural and historical influences from east and west. This has definitely inspired my sense and career path in contributing towards the art and culture scene of Macau.
Macau is getting increasingly more international. When it comes to arts and culture, do you believe there is still a long way to go?
I think, with the history of Macau, and the geographical location in Asia, Macau is definitely a platform for cultural exchange and for connecting collectors with art pieces of great potential. This thereby motivates the development of local tourism, and enhances Macau in becoming the world’s young and dynamic Art Capital.
Besides this, you are also the creator of U40 Empowered, a UNESCO initiative promoting young female cultural entrepreneurs in the digital creative industries by investing in their creative potential. What does this mean exactly?
Identifying the challenges women artists and creators often face in the digital creative industries, U40 Empowered initiative is designed to break down barriers and increase opportunities for U40 women to access funding, infrastructure, equipment and co-production opportunities.
What is your goal with U40 Empowered?
By investing in creative entrepreneurs, especially those that are in developing regions, ‘You Are Next’ fosters growth by selecting the most groundbreaking ideas from the Global South, and with the support of generous resources from experts and individuals that find strength in mentorship and education, transforms those ideas from just a dream into a reality.
How do you feel women can use their power to help make the world a better place?
I think it is safe to say that we are living in a time of female empowerment, but still, young girls and adult women are forced to tolerate prejudice and discrimination in every area of society, worldwide. Especially in developing countries, gender equality is not prioritized. Promoting gender equality isn’t just about helping women. No society can fully mature economically, politically or socially by just focusing on one gender, or half its population. In order to fully unlock the next generation’s thought, societal contributions, and innovations, the world cannot only provide one gender with opportunities, and turn to one gender for opinions, policies, and decision-making. We must work together as one, men and women, boys and girls, to make the world a better place.
You also work with UNESCO’s International Fund for Cultural Diversity. What does this partnership entail?
The U40 Empowered: a UNESCO-Sabrina Ho initiative expands the actions of the International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD) and promotes young female cultural entrepreneurs in the digital creative industries by investing in their creative potential. It is designed to increase opportunities for U40 women to access funding, infrastructure, equipment and co-production opportunities in the digital creative industries. It also supports national policy initiatives and strategies that address the different needs, aspirations, and capacities of young women working in this field.
In an interview some months ago, you said you feel women struggle with access in the digital creative field. What do you mean?
A 2018 UNESCO Global Report “Re/shaping Cultural Policies” shows that women are not only less connected, but have lower digital literacy skills and little access to training programs. Women are less likely to be hired by tech companies and are underrepresented in tech conferences or creative industry marketplaces. Women entrepreneurs remain invisible in the digital creative industries even though they represent half of those employed in these sectors worldwide. Even in the modern world, women are still largely missing in senior management and leadership positions.
Do you feel this inequality extends through all spectrums of wealth, countries, areas of expertise and lines of work?
Despite the international community—and even developing nations—making significant progress in alleviating poverty around the world, global financial issues still flood the world. Wealth gaps, income inequality, impoverishments—these problems still exist. While income equality is mostly accessible to all facets of society, there are still flaws in the system that prevents absolute full equal obtainability and while income gaps between cities and countries have declined, inequality within countries has grown.
What’s next in store for U40 Empowered?
We will soon be announcing what’s coming up next for the “You Are Next” initiative. Stay tuned!
Regarding your other projects: What can you tell us about what’s to come?
Continue on with the success of Y show and 6075 Hotel Art Fair. We wish to enrich and bring on even more collaborative programmes for the graduate show as well as the Hotel Art Fair. We are still in preparation and will for sure be announcing the plans and projects for 2019.
Follow Sabrina Ho on her Instagram @xsabrinahox