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Old July 5th, 2008, 11:32 AM   #441
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From news.gov.hk:
Cultural district authority to be formed
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Old August 6th, 2008, 08:01 AM   #442
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Source : http://www.ramma.net/album/060/index.asp





















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Old August 12th, 2008, 06:56 PM   #443
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招標條件苛刻 租約期僅一年
西九帳幕劇院隨時爛尾

12/08/2008



【本報訊】西九文娛藝術區場館最快二○一四年才落成,為紓緩短期內表演場地需求,政府最快本月內會將西九填海區內一幅三萬五千五百平方米土地,以短期租約形式租予私人機構,發展本港首個完全密封式的臨時帳幕劇院,最多可容納一千五百人。但有藝術團體炮轟有關租約條件苛刻,不但租期僅至明年年底,租金亦收取市值水平,投標機構更要承擔帳幕建築費,「得一年租約,搭得帳幕箧只做得三個月,即係一開幕就要執畄佢。」擔心計劃最終會爛尾。

租金採市值水平
地政總署擬於本月內推出西九龍填海區位於柯士甸道西一幅面積三萬五千五百平方米的臨海地皮,供有興趣的機構投標,招標文件列明有關土地只可營辦具有一千至一千五百個座位的完全密封式帳幕劇院,劇院外的其餘部分則可舉辦不會對鄰近住戶構成噪音滋擾的文化及展覽活動。租約期至明年十二月三十一日止,其後每季續租,租金採市值水平。

民政事務局發言人表示,當局曾考慮將有關土地以象徵式租金租予非牟利團體營辦,但是,最終決定以市值租金形式公開招標。她解釋,西九土地是香港寶貴的天然資源,應以市值招租,每季續租則是希望保留彈性,相信有興趣的團體會「自己計瑶數睇瑶投唔投標」。

春天舞台行政總裁兼監製高志森指,帳幕劇院在外國十分盛行,劇院內冷氣及廁所等設施一應俱全,環境舒適,構思值得支持。但他炮轟今次招標條件過苛,特別是租約期僅得一年,「雖然話租約期滿後每季續租,但如果一年後政府唔租咁點算?唔通叫個團體即刻執畄佢?」他強調,帳幕劇院的興建費達數千萬元,若租約只得一年,團體的投資可能血本無歸。

高志森又指西九文娛藝術區最快二○一三年才動工,政府應將租約定於至二○一三年,他質疑政府「船頭驚鬼船尾驚賊」,為求自保將風險轉嫁予用家,擔心計劃最終會淪為北角眤舊址竹棚表演場地招租爛尾的翻版,「旨意政府搞真係蛇都死!」
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Old September 22nd, 2008, 08:42 AM   #444
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Theatre's closing a good time to give art form a facelift, say Cantonese opera performers
18 September 2008
South China Morning Post

The key players involved in Cantonese opera are planning to use the "difficult" time without a major regular venue to reform the art form and cultivate a new audience base.

The Sunbeam Theatre in North Point where most large-scale Cantonese opera productions are held is closing early next year and performers will not have a regular place to perform until the West Kowloon Cultural District opens.

But the lack of business sense by those who sponsor Cantonese opera could pose a much greater obstacle to the growth of the local art form than the lack of venues in which to perform.

Veteran performer Leung Hon-wai, a member of the Cantonese Opera Advisory Committee, called the period between the closure of the Sunbeam Theatre in January and the opening of the new facilities in the West Kowloon Cultural hub an "empty period".

"It is going to be difficult during this particular time," Leung said.

He said the government knew about the closure of the Sunbeam Theatre a few years ago and new ideas to support Cantonese opera had been agreed on, including allowing a Cantonese opera group, Spring-Time Chinese Opera, to partner Tuen Mun Town Hall under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department's venue partnership scheme. The partnership scheme matches performing arts groups and venues to help develop the city's art scene.

There have also been proposals to renovate Yau Ma Tei Theatre and build new performing arts venues where Cantonese opera performances will be a priority.

"But what is lacking now is a new and professional management that knows how to manage a group in a more disciplined way and present this traditional art form to a newer audience," Leung said.

Affluent sponsors preferred to support familiar productions and faces, and did not tend to question the quality of a production, even if it failed, he said.

"Many [sponsors] put in the money, but because the return or box office success isn't their prime concern, no one really questions the quality of a production," Leung said.

"This amount of money could be the cost of just one dinner for these rich people, but it can be a budget for a production. This is really a waste of money and resources." It has to be changed by professional management."

Veteran performer Christina Wan Fai-yin, also a member of the Cantonese Advisory Committee, said the "empty period" was a chance to reform the Cantonese opera scene.

"The closure of Sunbeam Theatre means we have to look for new locations. This is a good chance to take the art form outside of North Point to newer areas {hellip} to cultivate a new audience base," she said.
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Old September 25th, 2008, 10:51 AM   #445
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Part of West Kowloon esplanade to be closed 3 years for pipe work
24 September 2008
South China Morning Post

A 200-metre segment of the West Kowloon waterfront promenade will be closed for three years for water pipe construction works.

The Water Supplies Department has chosen the northwestern corner of the West Kowloon Cultural District as a landing point for a cross-harbour water main.

The 200-metre section of the esplanade, including a cycle track and a footpath now open to the public, will be occupied by construction works from early next year until 2012.

The water main will be laid underground and no structure is planned above ground.

Members of the Harbour-front Enhancement Committee were concerned that the work, despite being temporary, would deprive the public of a seafront recreational area.

They urged the department to shorten the construction time and reduce the work area.

In a paper submitted to the committee yesterday, the department shortened the construction period several months and reduced the work area by 10 metres. It defended the project by saying the existing cross-harbour main would reach the end of its design life by 2012, and a new main was needed for the western part of the harbour to ensure water supply to Hong Kong Island.

The main will connect West Kowloon to Sai Ying Pun.

Officials said the area would be surrounded by decorated hoardings.

Meanwhile, the committee will meet today to discuss design proposals for waterfront promenades at Kwun Tong and Lei Yue Mun.

The temporary promenade along the Kwun Tong public cargo area, a 200-metre section beneath a flyover, will be enhanced by a lawn, trees, a boardwalk and special lighting.

The main entrance will be turned into a piazza featuring a light tower and mist to keep visitors cool during hot weather.

The project will be completed by the end of next year.
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Old September 25th, 2008, 03:04 PM   #446
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These Harbour-front Enhancement people are getting more and more annoyingly stupid.
They just object to anything and everything happens along the shore.
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Old September 25th, 2008, 03:07 PM   #447
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These Harbour-front Enhancement people are getting more and more annoyingly stupid.
They just object to anything and everything happens along the shore.
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Old September 26th, 2008, 12:13 AM   #448
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Anyone want to lend me a hand and help me shut them up?

Honestly, I believe there's a room for protest in a society, but much more of this and I'm really afraid HK will degrade into the US and lose its edge faster than anticipated. These people need to learn some real hardships so they know having a bike track closed for a few months isn't the end of the world.
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Old October 20th, 2008, 10:53 AM   #449
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3 new arts venues on drawing board
Planned theatres will meet increasing demand

20 October 2008
South China Morning Post

The government will construct three new performing-arts venues and rent non-government venues for smaller-scale performances to meet increasing demand for sites before development of the West Kowloon Cultural District.

The three new venues will be an annexe at the Ko Shan Theatre, a civic centre in Ngau Tau Kok, and the Yau Ma Tei Theatre, a heritage site, that will be renovated into a centre for Cantonese opera shows.

The plans have been disclosed as the government prepares for the announcement this week of an authority to oversee the development of the West Kowloon district.

Performing-arts groups have been crying out for more venues, saying constraints on the number of shows they can stage is hindering their long-term development.

Cynthia Liu Chiu-fun, assistant director of performing arts at the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, said the construction of Ko Shan Theatre's new annexe, which will have an auditorium of 600 seats, is expected to cost HK$450 million.

She said that although the theatre had been developed for Cantonese opera performances, the new annexe would not be reserved for the opera groups.

"The intention is to let medium-sized groups perform there," she said. The new annexe was expected to be completed by 2012.

Ms Liu said the civic centre in Ngau Tau Kok would serve as a cultural centre for communities in eastern Kowloon from Kwun Tong to Tseung Kwan O.

The centre, estimated to cost HK$1.9 billion and expected to be completed in 2015, will consist of an auditorium of 1,200 seats, a theatre of 500 seats and studios accommodating 100 to 200 spectators. It will be a fully equipped complex with a cafe, cloakroom and box office.

Ms Liu said the idea to build this centre had been around since the days of the defunct Urban Council, when consultancy studies were carried out on the use of existing venues.

After prolonged discussion, it was decided to turn Yau Ma Tei Theatre into a xiqu centre.

It was estimated the renovation would cost HK$160 million and it was expected to be ready in 2011.

"We are hoping to turn it into a theatre of 300 seats for smaller Cantonese opera performances," Ms Liu said. "It can only accommodate smaller productions.

"Although Sunbeam Theatre will be shut down in 2009, this new theatre will not take over its role, because Sunbeam Theatre has more than 1,000 seats. This centre will be dedicated to the grooming of young talent, and we hope that it will also become a tourist attraction by staging regular productions."

Ms Liu said the department would consider renting non-government venues such as community halls in Tin Shui Wai and Manhattan Hill, university venues such as Community Hall at Baptist University, and venues at the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre and Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity.

"We will also approach the Academy of Performing Arts and the Arts Centre, if necessary." She said that if some department presentations could not secure regular department venues, programmes could be staged at the alternative venues.

Ms Liu said the cost for staging shows at such venues would increase, since the department would have to cover rental charges, promotion and marketing because the venues might be less familiar to audiences.

She said the department had secured an extra HK$15 million this year to support small-to-medium-sized performing-arts groups, and this amount would cover shows staged at both department and non-department venues.
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Old October 21st, 2008, 08:58 AM   #450
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Cut-price culture
The government committed HK$21.6b to the arts hub in July, but that figure already appears inadequate

21 October 2008
South China Morning Post

In light of the meltdown hitting global markets, some say Hong Kong is fortunate to have lawmakers handing out HK$21.6 billion for the West Kowloon arts hub. It might not have happened now when the purse strings are tighter.

Construction will commence soon after the arts hub authority draws up its development plan, but questions remain. Is the city's first arts hub - a grandiose facility to nurture local arts and culture - going to be completed and can the funding sustain the project?

Analysts say the project needs an extra HK$6.4 billion to ensure its survival. The analysts, who were hired by legislators to review the budget, found that what was deemed to be a perpetual plan for building and sustaining the project is full of questions and gaps.

The alarm bells were ringing just a month after the funding was approved when the government revealed that more than 40 public works plans would have to return to the Legislative Council for more money.

But experts said the problem was not just about underestimating the inflation rate for construction materials, and the implication of a funding shortfall could be a downgrading in the quality of the project.

Hopes were raised that the long-awaited arts hub would finally become a reality when funding was approved in July. The amount, HK$21.6 billion, had been the subject of intense controversy over the previous year.

Four months before casting their votes, lawmakers commissioned a budget review. Despite lingering questions, 32 lawmakers voted for the funding in July. Ten, unconvinced by the government's arguments, voted it down.

Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor admitted a month later that the methods for estimating the costs of public works needed reviewing. She said the price of construction materials, such as sand, steel rods and soft steel, had increased by 104 per cent, 137 per cent and 60 per cent respectively throughout the past year.

The surge in construction costs in the past year has forced the administration to seek an additional HK$2.8 billion from Legco to complete 35 large public works projects. The contingencies in project contracts to cover unforeseeable risks are far from sufficient to cover the surge in construction costs, the Development Bureau said in a paper submitted to Legco last week.

Another warning came early this month when the secretary for commerce and economic development, Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan, announced details of the cruise terminal project. Due to the soaring price of construction materials, the cost of building the terminal had jumped HK$7.2 billion, an 80 per cent increase on the HK$4 billion estimated in July. The government said the figure could be even higher when it sought funding approval.

Another consideration is the economic slowdown which has started to bring down property prices and slowed retail business. Despite the threat of a recession, however, experts said the price rises for construction materials would continue.

Chau Kwong-wing, of the University of Hong Kong's department of real estate and construction, said that even a recession would not significantly slow the pace of infrastructural developments in the region.

"Ten major infrastructural projects are under way as suggested by the chief executive," Professor Chau said. "Hong Kong is competing for raw materials which are also demanded by the mainland and India.

"In the near future there may be deflation due to recession but inflation is more likely in the medium term, two to three years from now, due to rapid increase in the money supply," he said.

He said the government would get a good deal from contractors on the arts hub only if the work could start within the next 18 months. "This is, however, unlikely given the complex and novel nature of the project," he said.

Professor Chau was on the expert team commissioned by Legco to review the art hub's budget in March. In his analysis, the annual inflation rate in the next five to 10 years will be 3-6 per cent, triple the government's estimation of 2 per cent for the next 50 years.

"It is unrealistic to project a 50-year long-term inflation rate when the construction works will take place in the next few years," he said. He added that the appreciating yuan, and its effect on Hong Kong's economic relationship with the mainland, had to be factored in.

Questioned by experts, Home Affairs Bureau officials repeatedly reassured lawmakers that the budget had a 30 per cent contingency for unforeseeable risk, adding that could cover unforeseeable rises in construction costs if the annual inflation rate rose above 3.4 per cent.

In an attempt to placate critics, the government's top economist Kwok Kwok-chuen wrote in several newspapers, defending the government's budget and pointing out that a risk allowance of 48 to 60 per cent had been added to construction costs.

But Professor Chau warned that the risk allowance included only professional fees, contract management and staff costs in planning and managing construction. The risk of escalating construction costs was not included.

"This project will take more contingencies to tackle unpredictable risks than the normal 15 per cent contingency for building offices and housing, because it involves more complicated and innovative ideas," he said. "If the contingency is to be kept at 30 per cent and the inflation rate reaches 6 per cent, we would need HK$28 billion to make the arts hub sustainable."

If an extra HK$6.4 billion is needed, the arts hub could be the largest of the government's big projects queuing for more funds.

Terence Chong Tai-leung, associate professor of economics at Chinese University, said the West Kowloon District Authority could ask for more money to complete the construction.

"The price of metals will not slow as quickly as the inflation rate given their limited supply, and intense developments in the Asian region," he said. "But it would be difficult for the government to hand down more money in these hard economic times."

Planners are banking on income generated from the retail, dining and entertainment facilities - which constitutes 16 per cent of the total gross floor area - in helping to make the project viable. But Professor Chau said there was nothing to suggest that these facilities would be different to those at Elements, the neighbouring shopping mall above Kowloon Station which features brand-name products and high-end dining facilities.

A University of Hong Kong study found that few people visiting Elements were shoppers. "If the art hub is not designed with good connectivity, the situation could be even worse," Professor Chau said, stressing that retail, dining and entertainment facilities generated healthy income only when they become an attraction.

And doubts remain about the arts hub's accessibility. The 40-hectare site is physically isolated from neighbouring districts like Yau Ma Tei and Tai Kok Tsui, and it takes about 50 minutes to walk from the tip of the site to the nearest MTR station at Tsim Sha Tsui.

Added to the risks is the open design competition urged by the community. According to the risk analysis report prepared by the government consultant, a design competition would increase project management risk, and therefore cost, by 65 per cent.

A source close to the government said the administration would rather invite a design from a renowned architectural company than hold an open competition. It would save time and money, but would run into opposition.

Professor Chau said a way to reduce the extra costs induced by unforeseen risk was to enhance operating efficiency. One example, he said, was to invite an experienced international operator to run the flagship museum - dubbed M+ - in the early years.

Under the government's projections, M+ alone will contribute 89 per cent of the arts hub's total yearly operating deficit by 2059. But the university's analysis said 22 per cent of the total development cost could be saved if the museum was run by an international operator like Guggenheim.

The suggestion was not welcomed by the home affairs chief, Tsang Tak-sing, who has rarely spoken up in support of the project. In a legislative meeting held in May, Mr Tsang said the museum would lose its local character if it was run by an international operator.

"Hong Kong does not have any experience of running a world-class museum; are we going to experiment with taxpayers money?" Professor Chau said, adding the government could request the international operator return the management rights when the contract expired.

Another uncertainty affecting the art hub's sustainability is that no fund has been set aside for major renovations.

The budget covers a 50-year period only. Experts commissioned by lawmakers estimated an additional seed fund of HK$3.38 billion was necessary for renovations or reconstruction after the 50-year period.

In response to the Post's enquiry on whether the government would inject more money to ensure its viability, a spokeswoman for the Home Affairs Bureau said the upfront endowment of HK$21.6 billion was compiled on the basis of a detailed financial study conducted by the government's financial adviser.

The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority would take forward the planning and construction of the facilities and compute the actual capital cost of each facility, the spokeswoman said, adding the authority would manage and invest the upfront endowment prudently.

She made no mention of a contingency plan.

Professor Chau said: "An art hub would still be completed with an underestimated budget. At the end of the day, it is the quality. Problems arising 50 years later will be left to a later administration."
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Old October 22nd, 2008, 04:23 AM   #451
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It's a dazzling night in West Kowloon, and many well dressed people are hurrying...
22 October 2008
South China Morning Post

It's a dazzling night in West Kowloon, and many well dressed people are hurrying to the harbour-front for a concert in a state-of-the-art venue.

The population of theatre-goers and arts buffs spreads from one venue to another at the harbour side, but stops well short of the old and partly dilapidated neighbourhood nearby.

The sleek arts hub and neighbouring slum - side by side and a world apart.

This scenario could become reality if integrated planning is not in place as early as possible, say architects and artists, who criticise the government for passing the buck to the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, which has a limited mandate.

The 40-hectare site by the harbour is part of a 300-hectare plot reclaimed in the 1990s to accommodate affordable housing for low-income groups and much-needed space for over-developed districts. Plans changed after the proposal for a cultural district was announced by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa in his 1998 policy address.

Ten years on, Mr Tung's vision is a big step closer to becoming a reality after the passing of its empowering ordinance and approval of HK$21.6 billion in funding in the summer.

The underlying and unanswered question, however, is how a cultural hub featuring 16 venues and 23 hectares of open space can be an accessible and user-friendly facility for the public.

Critics say this noble vision won't be achieved unless the government takes the initiative rather than leaving all the tricky tasks to the yet-to-be-established authority.

"How can this complicated job be done by an authority of 15 part-time board members?" asked Professor Chan Wing-wah, head of the Centre for Creative and Performing Arts at HKU SPACE.

In May, Professor Chan got artists and architects together for the first time since the arts hub idea was initiated, to discuss what it should look like.

"The forum was set up to avoid the same mistakes happening at other venues" where planning and construction have been at times inappropriate if not ridiculous, said Professor Chan.

"Sometimes, the traditional performance has to be distorted in order to cope with the physical constraints of a venue," he said.

One example was Cantonese opera, where performers were on a stage set far higher than the audience, giving actors playing a ghost or a god an enhanced sense of superiority, he said. Where the stage is too low - a problem at the Cultural Centre concert hall, where the audience is eye level with the actors' socks - instead of pointing down at the audience while moving to the music, performers had to discard tradition and point upwards, Professor Chan said.

Other problems mentioned at the forum included dancers having nowhere to warm up before going on stage and performers in bulky costumes having to negotiate narrow staircases and tiny lifts.

"These are those little details we might not be aware of," said Alex Lui Chun-wan of the Institute of Architects. "At the same time, we have more macro issues to tackle."

And it is these macro issues that trouble planning experts.

Mr Lui said it was essential that the cultural district was easily accessible and fully integrated into the community.

The institute set up a West Kowloon cultural district taskforce some time ago to monitor the development's progress.

Last June, the government released a recommendation report on core arts and cultural facilities which affirmed that the arts hub should be "an optimal mix of arts and cultural facilities with suitable phasing and land reserved for organic growth".

However, in April, the Planning Department had proposed that buildings on the 40-hectare site be governed by height restrictions.

The elongated site would be divided into three zones with different height restrictions, according to the proposal. The height limit would be 50 metres at the western part of the tip, 100 metres in the central part in front of Kowloon Station and 70 metres on the eastern side.

Taskforce members said the height restrictions undermined the integrated approach the government had called for.

"It implies that most art venues are likely to be put at the western side of the tip," taskforce member Freddie Hai Tuen-tai said. "Sites allowing high rises will be left for residential and commercial developments for sure."

This had already been made clear last year in the government's financial report for the arts hub, which prescribed residential developments of about 70 metres in height and a 100-metre hotel development.

If the remaining area - restricted to 50 metres - is for arts purposes, the venues will be concentrated in one place, according to another taskforce member, Ivan Ho Man-yiu. "It stops arts venues from integrating into the hub development."

He said the height controls were arbitrary and went against the recommendations of the consultative committee.

A spokeswoman for the Planning Department said the 50- and 70-metre limits were intended to maintain a 20 per cent building-free zone below the ridgelines when viewed from Hong Kong Island.

But Mr Ho said the height limits reduced the design's flexibility. "There is little difference between the three proposed heights," he said, adding the ridgeline was already affected by the 118-storey International Commercial Centre.

Under the planning parameters set by the government, the taskforce expected the result would be a few high rises coupled with flat, dense developments. "The height limits would not reduce the density," Mr Ho said.

Taskforce chairman Alex Lui, a member of the expert panel examining entries for the arts hub design competition held in 2001, urged the government to scrap the height limits.

He also expressed concern about connectivity.

From the information released by the government, neither Kowloon Station nor two future MTR stations, West Kowloon Station and West Kowloon Terminus, has an entrance inside the cultural district.

The government consultant recommended building an environmentally friendly transport system - for example, a monorail - to traverse a 1.5km route within the arts hub. The construction cost was estimated at HK$504 million. Comprising five stations and a depot, the rail system would be slower than the MTR but was expected to become a tourist attraction. The consultant said it was not a mandatory item.

The monorail idea was criticised as being too small, and experts said it would be much more costly if it was connected to the transportation system outside the cultural district.

According to the taskforce's calculations, walking from the tip of the arts hub to the nearest MTR station exit - on Canton Road, 1.2km away - would take at least 50 minutes. "Families with children and elderly walk much more slowly," Mr Lui added.

The taskforce members were none too optimistic about road accessibility either, saying the two-lane Austin and Canton Roads would become major veins connecting to the arts hub. "Let's imagine people rushing to the shows taking place at the 16 venues after work; all going five minutes before the show starts," taskforce member Stefan Krummeck said. "The roads must be jam-packed with traffic."

If you have mixed up the hub's venues with those at the Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui, you are going to miss the show too, Professor Chan warned, "because they are close in sight but far to reach". He said he feared the district would remain an island.

If the arts hub is to be well-designed with good connectivity, the planning works should start now, the taskforce warned. "Completing the first phase by 2015 is very, very optimistic," Mr Hai said. "Don't forget the master plan still has to go through public consultation and amendments of the outline zoning plan."

A Home Affairs Bureau spokeswoman said the cultural district master plan would proceed as soon as the authority was established.

However, what worried the taskforce was that planning beyond the cultural district was outside the authority's mandate.

The authority's major functions, according to the ordinance, is to prepare a development plan for the 40-hectare site; to submit the plan for Town Planning Board approval; build the arts and cultural facilities; operate, manage and maintain the facilities; and promote arts and culture generally.

The bureau's spokeswoman said it would identify key planning issues that the authority should take into account in preparing the development plan. The authority was expected to work closely with government departments to ensure there was a convenient network of connections between the arts hub and neighbouring districts, she said, adding there could be walkways and footbridges.

The government could not confirm whether there would be an MTR entrance within the site, but said part of the West Kowloon Terminus, endpoint for the Regional Express, would be beneath the arts hub. Meanwhile, a traffic study to be completed this year would assess the cumulative traffic impacts arising from the project, a Transport Department spokesman said.

As the government has indicated, these many unresolved issues rest with the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.

The development could go one of two ways, experts say. "It could reinforce social conflicts [or] it could also become something that Hong Kong takes pride in after spending over HK$20 billion," said Mr Lui, who added that timely planning and an open competition would help avoid the sort of public opposition that put paid to Lord Foster's canopy design in 2005.

"The project could be taken as a key to establishing our creative industry in which both the economy and the quality of citizens will be enhanced," said Professor Chan. "It could also be a failure if it is simply taken as an individual tourism project."
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Old October 23rd, 2008, 06:19 AM   #452
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唐英年料任西九管理局主席 處理200億撥款 擬定發展圖則
10月22日 星期三 05:05

【明報專訊】手執40公頃西九文化區土地發展和營運大權的西九管理局快將成立,據了解,政府已敲定管理局委任名單,政府傾向由政務司長唐英年出任主席,成員包括民建聯區議員鍾港武、民主黨副主席單仲偕、會計界獨立議員陳茂波,以及多名前西九龍文娛藝術區核心文化藝術設施諮詢委員會成員等。政府將於日內公布名單,並爭取短期內開會,盡快開展西九文化區發展。

管理局法例規定,西九管理局董事局成員不超過20人,除公開招聘的行政總裁外,其餘成員均由特首委任。當中有不少於8名及不多於15名非公職人員,以及至少1名立法會議員。

民建聯民主黨各有代表

本報獲悉,政府早前曾邀請政黨推薦人選,民建聯推薦油尖旺區議會主席鍾港武為代表,政府亦向民主黨單仲偕招手。

至於自由黨方面,政府曾接觸前西九諮詢委員會表演藝術與旅遊小組召集人周梁淑怡,但被對方婉拒。

獨立陳茂波獲委任

據知,政府在考慮立法會議員代表人選時,希望委任非政黨人士,最終決定委任本身是會計師的陳茂波,希望以其財務知識和對企業管治的認識,為西九項目提供專業意見。

其他將會被委任的成員,至少有5人是前西九諮詢委員會成員,包括當日的財務小組召集人夏佳理、博物館小組召集人羅仲榮、藝術發展局主席馬逢國、海洋公園主席盛智文,以及進念•二十面體創辦人兼藝術總監榮念曾。

粵劇界未入局

粵劇界過去一直十分關注西九文化區內的表演場地安排,暫沒有代表加入管理局。

據了解,日後在落實粵劇表演場地發展時,管理局會成立相關的委員會,屆時才邀請業界代表參與具體工作。

西九管理局會負責處理早前立法會一筆過撥出的216億元撥款,擬備西九發展圖則,營運、管理和維持藝術文化設施,以及推廣、展覽各類藝術。

明報記者
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Old October 23rd, 2008, 07:06 AM   #453
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Cultural zone team ready to start work
Hong Kong Standard
Thursday, October 23, 2008

The government is to announce the long-awaited West Kowloon Cultural District Authority today, with Chief Secretary for Administration Henry Tang Ying-yen tasked to lead the team.

The Standard on October 10 exclusively revealed the team will include Executive Councillors Ronald Arculli and Victor Lo Chung-wing; Ocean Park chairman Allan Zeman; Arts Development Council chairman Ma Fung-kwok; Hong Kong University professor of architecture David Lung Ping-yee; and Danny Yung Ning-tsun, the founder of local performing arts group Zuni Icosahedron.

A source said the authority will comprise about 20 members with three official members - Tang and two others from the home affairs and development bureaus.

Other unofficial members will include legislator (accountancy) Paul Chan Mo-po; former Liberal Party member Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung; Democratic Party vice chairman and former legislator Sin Chung-kai; and Yau Tsim Mong District Council chairman Chung Kong-mo, who is from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong.

The source said the authority will start work as soon as possible, including finding a chief executive officer.

At the end of the last legislative term lawmakers approved the cultural district bill and a one-off HK$21.6 billion fund for the development of the culture hub.

The project will be developed in different stages, with the first involving planning and the use of the 40-hectare site.

Different cultural infrastructure will be built later. The visual arts museum M+ and 12 smaller museums and performance venues are expected to be completed in 2014 and 2015.
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Old October 25th, 2008, 06:23 PM   #454
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19 chosen for cultural hub board
24 October 2008
Hong Kong Standard

The government yesterday appointed a 19-strong board to oversee the West Kowloon cultural development, 15 of whom have no direct connection with property developers.

In announcing the appointments to the West Kowloon Cultural Authority, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam- kuen said he was confident it would lay a solid foundation for the project to unleash the creative potential of artists.

The board will be chaired by Chief Secretary for Administration Henry Tang Ying-yen, and include the secretaries for home affairs, development, and financial services and the treasury.

Three have construction backgrounds _ Hong Kong University geotechnical engineering chair professor Lee Chack-fan, former Urban Renewal Authority executive director Andrew Lam Siu-lo and HKU associate dean of architecture David Lung Ping-yee.

Five have arts and cultural backgrounds: Hong Kong Sinfonietta music director Yip Wing-sie; Zuni Icosahedron artistic director Danny Yung Ning-tsun; Arts Development Council chief Ma Fung-kwok; Chinese University fine arts head Jenny So Fong-suk; and Tokyo Museum of Contemporary Art chief curator Yuko Hasegawa.

The others are accountancy-sector legislator Paul Chan Mo-po; legislator Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, who quit the Liberal Party recently; former legislator Sin Chung-kai, Yau Tsim Mong council chief Chung Kong-mo; executive councillors Ronald Arculli and Victor Lo Chung-wing; and Ocean Park chairman Allan Zeman.
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Old October 27th, 2008, 10:52 AM   #455
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Public to have big say on arts hub Henry Tang outlines West Kowloon vision
27 October 2008
South China Morning Post

The public will be extensively engaged in drawing up the master plan for the future arts hub in West Kowloon, while international architects will be invited to make the existing empty site iconic and regional, the hub's new chief says.

Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen envisaged the arts hub enjoying regional status and mitigating the impact of the economic downturn as he spelled out his visions in an interview with the South China Morning Post as the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority chairman.

"The master layout plan is a key to a successful arts hub," he said. "We must get the community on board to support us."

Mr Tang said at least two rounds of consultation would be launched on the site's master layout plan and building design. He also said the authority would not rush into construction despite a tight schedule to complete at least 12 museums and performing venues by 2015.

"The plan has to be done in a way to facilitate the flow of people and minimise dead space," he said, expecting a public engagement exercise on a scale larger than the one held for the Tamar government headquarters.

Before choosing iconic designs for venues, the authority would seek the best master layout plan. But, learning from the Tamar project, Mr Tang said public voting would not be the sole factor determining who won the contract.

"Arts and culture are not science, there is a degree of subjectivity," he said, stressing the best design might not be the most popular one. He said there would be a competition to decide on the master layout plan while individual venues would be selected from a process with "competitive elements".

The authority will later invite local and international firms to express their interests in designing the 40-hectare district. Detailed arrangements will be discussed when the authority's 18 board members meet tomorrow. An open recruitment exercise will be held to select the authority's chief executive.

Mr Tang was confident the project would attract worldwide interest because of its huge scale.

"The firms have to be multi-disciplined because they have to tackle the venue locations, people flow, connectivity and traffic issues," he said.

The best design, from Mr Tang's perspective, should follow an integrated approach.

"There can be small canopies on top of open space so that people can still enjoy the outdoors even if it rains," he said.

The design would also have to connect the West Kowloon Terminus with the arts hub to secure the hub's regional status, he said. The terminus will be the final station on the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.

"This is not just an arts hub for Hong Kong, but for Asia, especially the Pearl River Delta," Mr Tang said, expecting millions of visitors from the delta to arrive by train in the morning, then go shopping, dining and take in a show at the arts hub.

Hailing the project as the most exciting of its kind in developed economies, Mr Tang said it was also a measure to mitigate the impact of the economic downturn through creating jobs for both construction workers and professionals.

He said it was also an opportunity to build the city's creative industry, stressing that the arts hub would become the city's new focal point.

"We have strong infrastructure, tolerance for different cultures and an open mentality," he said. "I think we have all the ingredients for it."

Asked whether the arts hub would be financially sustainable, Mr Tang said he would closely monitor its financial situation and make sure it was world-class and value for money.
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Old October 30th, 2008, 10:25 AM   #457
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Public to choose from three options for West Kowloon arts hub project
29 October 2008
South China Morning Post

The public will choose from three options put forward by local and international experts for developing the West Kowloon arts hub, the project's board decided after its first meeting yesterday.

The development plan - involving 15 performance venues, museums, offices, and retail and dining facilities over the 40-hectare area - would be the top priority for the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority Board, said its chairman, Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen.

The authority would invite proposals by open tender, he said, and then launch a multi-stage consultation exercise and propose three options to the public. The final blueprint would be one of these three, but it might also include some good features of the other two. It would become reality after gaining the Town Planning Board's approval.

Designs for the arts venues, in particular the museum M+, the Xiqu Centre for Cantonese and other Chinese opera and a music chamber, which are all intended to be landmarks, will be selected from a process with competitive elements.

Architect Vincent Ng Wing-shun agreed that the public should be presented with options to choose from and that international experts should be engaged.

But he said the authority should give more chances to local architects to design more of the buildings that would not be landmark performance venues.

Critic Ada Wong Ying-kay agreed, saying local architects would better understand people's needs. The authority would also need to think about whether there was a need to scale down development in view of the financial meltdown, she said.

Mr Tang said the project, coming amid a global economic crisis, was timely and would provide jobs for the construction and arts industries. The authority would maintain maximum transparency, he said, but it could not fully open meetings and release documents when sensitive commercial information was involved.

The authority will launch a global recruitment exercise for the post of chief executive officer, but in the meantime it would recruit an executive director to serve during the transition period. The CEO is expected to have a good understanding of Hong Kong and be aware of the importance of culture to the city.

The government will lend a lawyer, an executive officer, a planner, an engineer and an architect to assist the authority before it recruits permanent staff next year.

In forming the authority's structure, the board will invite tenders for a consultancy study, to be completed by the second quarter of next year, to look at local and overseas organisations' staff structures, manpower needs and salary levels. The management's salary details will be released in the future.

Under the authority, six committees will plan matters relating to performing arts, museums, development, audits, staff remuneration and investment. These will be chaired by Allan Zeman, Victor Lo Chung-wing, Ronald Arculli, Paul Chan Mo-po, Sin Chung-kai and Tsang Tak-sing.
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Old November 2nd, 2008, 06:03 AM   #458
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西九發展設高限 建築師學會批不科學
10月31日 星期五 05:05

【明報專訊】發展局去年起於分區計劃大綱圖加入樓宇高度限制,更規限西九文化區不可建屏風樓遮擋獅子山、慈雲山等山脊線,但建築師學會表示,山脊線早已受九龍站上蓋物業阻擋,質疑規劃署 擬訂高限前沒有先做城市設計研究和技術評估,擔心發展商「起盡」高限,重蹈尖東「一排排矮肥樓」的覆轍。

憂建成「一排矮肥樓」

城規會今天會討論《西南九龍分區計劃大綱草圖》的反對意見,包括香港建築師質疑政府為西九文化區制訂50至100米的樓宇高限前,並無進行城市設計研究。「如何釐定某些地區是50米?某些是70米?」建築師學會西九關注組主席雷震寰指出,規劃署以預留孫中山 紀念公園及中環 天星碼頭 望向獅子山等山脊的兩成空間為由,限制西九建築高限,是不科學及武斷(arbitrary)的決定。

關注組副主席解端泰強調,該會不反對保護山脊線,但現時政府以行政手段加入高限,背後卻並無科學的城市設計研究,證明能真正保護山脊線。

建築師學會理事何文堯則指出,規劃署欠缺城市設計研究,「只以2D形式規劃,沒有用模型及真正想像建築物落成後的城市面貌,才造就今天的屏風樓問題」。

他表示,單靠強行加入高限,只會重蹈尖東發展的覆轍,「早年因啟德 機場的高限,令尖東一帶的樓宇『起盡』,變成『一排排矮肥的盒』」。
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Old November 2nd, 2008, 06:42 AM   #459
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「西九不需摩天大廈」 盼日間散光芒 夜間富動感
(明報)10月28日 星期二 05:05

【明報專訊】西九龍文化區現在仍是一片空地,但在東京 都現代美術館總館長長谷川祐子眼中,已幻化成一個日與夜均閃耀躍動的亮麗建築﹕「我未去過西九,但據我知,文化區靠近長長海岸線。我不認為文化區上需要建摩天大廈,我想像文化建築會呈現美麗和市民暢達一面,它可由不同物料組合建造,日間可散發光芒,夜間則富動感活力風格。」

從事藝術工作近30年的長谷川祐子,在任現代美術館總館長前,曾參與營運不同日本 博物館,和曾為國際博物館協會現代美術館委員會成員。在1999年至04年間,金澤市政府邀請她創立市內博物館,她便創造一個沒有歷史名畫包袱,為居民和年輕藝術家而設的新生藏館。

長谷川說,金澤21世紀美術館着重與市民溝通和藝術培訓,除一般展廳外,更特設人民畫廊(People's Gallery),邀請市內居民展出個人作品,以促進與社區溝通。場內展覽又以互動為主,市民可避免呆呆地觀賞牆上畫作,參觀後亦可到場外的大草地散步休憩。「行博物館好像到City Salon(城市髮廊),參觀後身心也會煥然一新。」她認為,金澤着重互動展覽和藝術培訓的經驗可借鑑,「讓博物館成為一個活活的人,不再是死寂一幢建築物」。
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Old November 4th, 2008, 06:29 AM   #460
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Height limits on arts hub to be relaxed
1 November 2008
South China Morning Post

Height limits on buildings in the West Kowloon arts hub will be partially relaxed to allow for design flexibility, town planning advisers have decided, after architects raised objections yesterday.

An arts venue could exceed the height restriction on the zone it was in, a spokesman for the Town Planning Board said. He would not say by how much the limits could be exceeded, saying "it will depend on the design merits".

The heights of future arts and cultural venues in the West Kowloon Cultural District would be subject to a "relaxation clause" - a more flexible treatment than that of residential and commercial buildings within the hub, which would be governed by a "minor relaxation clause", the board said. Such changes should give enough flexibility to architects intending to join a competition for the arts hub's development plan, it said.

The Planning Department will amend the zoning plan based on the board's recommendations. The revised plan will be submitted to the board again and will be gazetted in about a month, the spokesman said.

Earlier, the department had proposed dividing the 40-hectare site into three zones with different height controls. The limit for the western area was set at 50 metres, the eastern 70 metres and the central 100 metres.

Twenty-one architects urged the board to remove the limits, arguing that the restrictions were likely to result in cramping arts venues into the 50-metre zone so as not to be dwarfed by residential developments, set at about 70 metres high, and hotels, at 100 metres.

One architect, Freddie Hai Tuen-tai, said the changes did not fully address his group's concerns.

"Will architects participating in the design competition be bold enough to break the norm?" he said. "Some may fear they'll be disqualified and then simply follow the height limits.

"The height limits are set according to the vantage point from Sai Ying Pun, but how many people actually see the site from there?"

The rationale behind the restrictions was to keep 20 per cent of the Kowloon hills ridgeline visible from Hong Kong Island.

Mr Hai said he hoped the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority would ensure that the final plan would integrate arts with other developments.

Greg Wong Chak-yan, chairman of the Town Planning Board, said a review of the selection of vantage points would further delay the development of the arts hub.
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