Summary of key comments and issues addressed by members of other arts, business and cultural groups at Subcommittee on West Kowloon Cultural District Development meeting
23rd October 2007
I. HONG KONG’S LACK OF A CULTURAL POLICY
Hong Kong needs to revisit the question of Cultural Policy, as HK virtually has no policy right now. We need a cultural venue policy, a library policy, an arts policy, a parks policy, etc. We need a Legco monitoring system for WKCD.
The Central Police Station case is instructive—they do not have the right people to draw up a plan. The arts community should develop policy, the government should facilitate. Details are the decisive factor
What objectives do we have for new cultural development? Cultural policy not to be created by WKCD. What is cultural policy for WKCD in particular and for Hong Kong in general? HK requires a major cultural infrastructure as well as a cultural district.
The Association of Managers, Cultural Services:
We need a cultural policy covering both new and existing venues. How do we position existing venues? We will still need community based performance spaces. We need to be building up audiences NOW, and to have a coherent policy for doing this. In my sector, we have only 8 managers but we have to organize 900 performances a year. Rather than supporting us, the government has cut resources and frozen hiring of new staff for years. Morale is quite low, and turnover high. Most cultural managers presently working have less than 2 years’ experience. The government has not listened to us or supported our recommendations to build programmes for the community that will to build up arts and culture. In this interim period it is crucial that the government should inject more human resources and funding for community-based arts and culture, otherwise the audience for and appreciation of these things in Hong Kong will never grow and mature.
II. NEED FOR INTEGERATED COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURAL RESOURCES
Hong Kong Children’s Benevolent Society, Cheung Sha Wan Centre:
We see no consideration in the current policies to help expand and support cultural resources for the weak, vulnerable, poor and disempowered. In the places we work, we see almost no really community-based cultural resources, human resources, financially supported programming. The debate about WKCD should be an opportunity to examine the needs of the vulnerable sectors and to find ways to enrich their lives as well, on a community level.
HK Arts Administrators Association:
We need to develop synergy among and within arts facilities, both new and existing ones. The development of WKCD does not and should not preclude district-based hubs.
Hong Kong Arts Centre:
We need to develop a healthy cultural ecology, connections to local community. We need new channels of investment and sponsorship of the arts. We support WKCD but cultural planning should be organic.
III. HUMAN RESOURCES:
Hong Kong Arts Administrators Association Ltd:
We need to improve existing facilities and for human resource planning
NOW. Macao has been building up its cultural infrastructure in the last few years, and has been drawing expertise away from Hong Kong. This situation is occurring also in the Mainland. We need to take action or face a continuing brain drain.
To date there is no concrete proposal for software/human resources, which also should be part of a cultural policy. Very few people join the arts professionally, because government policy does not encourage artistic creation. We need to work with international arts organization and arrange for large-scale, long-term internships, not just a few months but a few years. Arts education needs to be promoted now, across the board.
IV. PROMISE OF A GREEN DISTRICT
People’s Democracy Foundation:
The people of Hong Kong deserve “planning justice”. Don’t let WKCD be overtaken by developers. It should be a people’s park, comparable to Victoria Park in size. When the government first proposed land reclamation for West Kowloon to the Hong Kong people in 1992, it said that the purpose was to create a green area plus residential units to relieve congestion in low-income housing developments. There was no hint given then that the government would turn around and try to sell off this needed public land to private developers. This betrayal of the government’s original promise should not be accepted.
Action Group for Protection of West Kowloon:
We need a green park in Hong Kong—the 23 hectares belong to the people, they should not be privatized. The Hong Kong people originally were promised a green site in West Kowloon, and we want to see that green-ness preserved. It shouldn’t be turned into another a luxury development or be forced to be self-sustaining through commercialization. The government’s justification for handing over so much of the land to developers is that WKCD needs to be self-sustaining. But if is a public facility, why should WKCD be required to be self-sustaining? Is it public and for the enjoyment of the public.
V. COHERENT PLANNING:
Hong Kong Architects Association:
Business professionals should take part in planning process. The pragmatic details must be outlined in terms of integration and sustainability.
Hong Kong Alternatives:
Before establishment of a real cultural authority, no land sale should take place. Premiums should go into our treasury. The land should be kept as a public trust—it could be leased, rather than sold. And the larger proportion should be made into a first-class public part. An international landscape architect should be engaged to design it.
VI. M+: “POPULAR CULTURE”?
HK Curators Assoc (association consisting of curators in government museums).: We are concerned about M+ inclusion of “popular culture”: What does this mean, isn’t popular culture all around us? Why does it need to be in a museum?
We are disappointed that the concept of the ink museum/category has been replaced by something called “popular culture,--we’re not entirely sure what that means.
VII. LOGISTICS and ACCESSIBILITY:
Ho Loy—it’s crucial to set up direct transport links between WKCD and Western District on Hong Kong island, and also to facilitate inter-island access.
VIII. TRANSPARENCY AND INTEGRATION/EMPOWERMENT OF ARTS COMMUNITY
Hong Kong Arts Development Council:
The recent WKCD report does show some response to the public concerns. It is important that when the WKCD supervisory authority is established, it should reflect the views of artistic sector
How will the government support creative industries? What are the concrete measures it will take? Will there be spaces for art studios at WKCD? Zoning has to be clear, or it will only turn into a luxury residential development. What about office spaces? How do we ensure an active environment, not merely a cultural facility encased in a hi-end residential development?
The WKCD authority does not want to restrict its activities to West Kowloon, we will be stepping up hiring of cultural managers.
Emily Lau, details on WKCD authority should be submitted to LEGCO as soon as possible and a new meeting set up for deputations.
Design competition should be open
Selina Chow, Training programme for cultural managers is urgent. Who will be responsible for this? The cultural workers have been restricted
We need a breakthrough vis a vis the way things are managed now.
Town planning needs to be addressed.
WKCD authority will provide an opportunity to develop a cultural policy/software. What mode should we use to develop artistic bodies.
Need to train talent.
Town planning board needs to meet with WKCD authority
Prepared by Valerie C. Doran, Member of AICA-HK