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Old February 10th, 2009, 11:18 PM   #601
aphasian
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Thursday February 2 2006

Lacking a creative spark

Christine Loh

Sometimes it is better for a bad idea just to die a quiet death. Wise people will let that happen, creating an opportunity for a new start. This is what should have happened with the West Kowloon arts hub project.

The city's largest property developers are all involved in this scheme. That is not surprising, since the government's plan involves a 40-hectare piece of land, and whoever controls the residential and commercial space on it will dominate the Kowloon market.

So, no one will give up since if you cannot win the prize yourself, you don't particularly want anyone else to get it. The risks are too large that your competitors will grab it, then wield it like a monopoly.

The largest developers have formed three competing consortiums. Each of the three spent considerable sums of money producing concept plans. That was to satisfy the government's need to promote the project when public criticism of the plan began to mount last year. People were especially concerned that the project was not about culture, but property development.

The government wanted developers to build arts venues and run programmes for 30 years, in exchange for giving them a large chunk of land. That property would generate the income to finance the cultural components.

The developers are not in the culture business: indeed, they are quite ignorant about the arts. So, they went around the world looking for brand-name partners in the culture business, such as high-profile museums. Efforts were made to bring the public on side: the consortiums were asked to provide endless drawings to show the high quality of the venues, and built large models.

Yet, residents continued to complain. People wanted to see a cultural development that involved them as an audience, not just presentations put on by brand-name organisers. Then the Legislative Council put out a stinging report showing how the government had no cultural policy, and instead was trying to produce instant culture by buying brands.

By last summer, the project was wilting. The entire government model was unconvincing. Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen could have taken the opportunity to let it die, but he didn't.

Instead, his administration pushed ahead, and a modified proposal was put forward in October - only to attract another highly critical report from Legco in December. The revision did not cure the fundamental problem of a lack of a compelling cultural policy, it said.

Two out of the three shortlisted developers' groups had to agree with the revised approach for the project to continue, and they had until the end of last month to notify the government. So, two of the shortlisted consortiums could have taken the chance to let the project die but, as of this writing, they appear not to be giving up yet.

Mr Tsang can still show strong and wise government by responding positively to the Legislative Council report and to the mood of the public.

He could take the time to develop a cultural policy before re-embarking on the West Kowloon project. An appropriate policy would be focused not only on importing cultural institutions from overseas, but finding ways to stimulate artistic creativity among city residents.

A necessary part of such a policy is finding ways to encourage Hongkongers to read widely and extensively, as well as to appreciate literature and writing. That is a long-term goal.

Hongkongers already know that putting up a large museum does not mean we understand history and the arts. A giant performance space does not mean we can better appreciate music, opera, dance and drama. Is there anyone in the administration who can think through what a cultural policy should be?

Christine Loh Kung-wai is chief executive of the think-tank Civic Exchange
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Old February 10th, 2009, 11:19 PM   #602
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Sunday February 5 2006

Lunar New Year goodwill already wearing thin

Chris Yeung

Thanks to the tradition of fostering harmony at the beginning of the Lunar New Year, Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan survived a reprimand over his refusal to attend a Legislative Council meeting on the West Kowloon Cultural District project.

Despite strong pressure from pro-democracy legislators at a subcommittee meeting, government-friendly legislators prevented stern action being against Mr Hui, citing the importance of cordiality and harmony in the festive season.

Hours later, Mr Hui reciprocated with a promise to attend the panel's next meeting.

Friday's meeting came about a week after three shortlisted consortiums confirmed their interest in entering the next round of bidding for the mega-sized project. The government has said it needs more time to study queries raised by the developers concerning the revised development package. Press reports quoted officials as saying this would take several months.

While there is some truth to the government's argument that a detailed response to the developers' concerns is needed, it is clear the lingering political uncertainty over the project has deterred officials from making an early decision.

Although most people want an early go-ahead on construction of the project on reclaimed land left vacant for years, there is no clear majority in favour of the government's development model.

According to a survey by the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme last month, only 6 per cent of respondents support granting planning and development rights for the project to a private consortium. Public backing for the building of a giant canopy dropped sharply after respondents were told the cost and size of the hub's centrepiece.

The lack of solid public support for the government's plan has put the administration in a vulnerable position in its tussle with Legco.

At a time when the pro-democracy camp is at a low point following the constitutional reform saga, the West Kowloon project has been a godsend - allowing them to challenge the executive authorities. No wonder the subcommittee convened immediately after the Lunar New Year holiday ahead of a Legco debate on the cultural hub project this week.

Members are in no mood to show courtesy in a power game. They are eager to send a no-nonsense warning to the government not to ignore their alternative proposals.

The tussle between the government and Legco has intensified since the three shortlisted consortiums confirmed their interest in the modified plan - contrary to most media reports.

Pundits have said a refusal by two of the three shortlisted bidders to go ahead would have provided a convenient excuse for the government to start afresh.

If the trio have decided to hang on, it is probably only because they are unclear about the government's endgame, or more precisely, the room for further negotiation over the modified plan.

In any case, they do not want to take the blame for putting the cultural hub plan back to square one by declining to pursue it further.

For its part, the government has no alternative but to assess the viability of the counterproposals made by the three consortiums and, more importantly, the weight of opposition from pro-democracy legislators and lobbying groups.

It will have to evaluate the political price to be paid for, and the risks involved in, sticking to its development plan for the project.

Speaking in Legco after the constitutional reform fiasco, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said the government would reprioritise its agenda for the next 18 months. He has made no secret of his impatience with the long delay to the project.

With the air of harmony in the Lunar New Year wearing thin and tension with Legco lingering, he will have to wait longer for a political environment conducive to a compromise on the West Kowloon development plan.
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Old February 10th, 2009, 11:19 PM   #603
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Thursday February 9 2006

Demands on arts hub win support

May Chan

Legislature tells the government to take note of criticism and suggestions in two reports on the cultural district

The legislature yesterday unanimously endorsed two reports by its subcommittee on the West Kowloon cultural project, including one calling for an overhaul of the planning and financial arrangements.

Members who spoke in a motion debate proposed by Alan Leong Kah-kit, of the Article 45 Concern Group, demanded the government heed the suggestions and criticism made in the reports.

The subcommittee's second report, released in January, suggested separating the cultural and non-cultural components of the development, scrapping the proposed canopy, and financing the arts hub element of the project with income from land sales.

Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands Michael Suen Ming-yeung defended the administration, saying the government had already listened to public views by adding new parameters, including abandoning the single-developer approach, in response to the first report released in July.

'What is disappointing is that the subcommittee does not seem to agree with the government on this front. The chief secretary has pointed out that the second report deviates substantially from the government's proposal, and will nullify all of the efforts made in the past few years,' Mr Suen said.

'It has not taken public views into consideration, and is inclined to take a more conservative approach by suggesting that the project should follow traditional procedures of land sales.'

Mr Suen said the second report failed to guarantee sufficient funding for the cultural facilities and would further delay the project. He said the government would stick with its frameworks despite criticism in the report.

Mr Leong said Mr Suen was merely repeating previous government statements.

'Legco and the administration are like two parallel lines that never meet,' he told the meeting after Mr Suen's speech.

Mr Leong said the meeting had been disappointing and hoped Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan would better address public concerns when he attended a subcommittee meeting later this month.

Subcommittee member Chan Kam-lam, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said his party supported the motion.

'The reports represent views of different sectors. The administration should give a positive response instead of brushing aside the reports,' he said.

Democrat legislator Albert Chan Wai-yip accused Mr Hui of being a coward for refusing to attend the meeting. 'I propose that Legco condemn Mr Hui,' he said.

A spokeswoman for Mr Hui's office said later: 'Everyone in the government works diligently to perform their duties. There is nothing unusual in that some members of Legco may have different views.'

Mr Hui wrote to legislators, saying the administration could not provide further information.
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Old February 10th, 2009, 11:20 PM   #604
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Saturday February 11 2006

Defy us on hub and you'll pay: lawmakers

May Chan and Dikky Sinn

Legislators' anger at being bypassed over the West Kowloon cultural project boiled over yesterday as they called on the chief executive to attend a question-and-answer session and direct the chief secretary to meet their demands.

The lawmakers warned of grave political consequences if the government made a decision on the project without first answering their questions.

Calls came from both sides of the political divide for action that could include a vote of no confidence and mass resignations.

A Legislative Council subcommittee studying the project will write to chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, calling for him to answer questions on the issue face to face with its members.

The letter will express 'grave concerns' over the relationship between the administration and the legislature, and demand that Mr Tsang 'direct the chief secretary to meet our demands'.

The subcommittee will also demand that no decision be made on the future of the planned arts hub until Mr Tsang has responded directly to two reports it has prepared on the project.

Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan declined an invitation to attend a previous meeting of the subcommittee and last week's Legco motion debate on the West Kowloon project. He has, however, promised to attend a subcommittee meeting before the end of this month, after consulting the Executive Council on the project.

But subcommittee member Emily Lau Wai-hing said: 'The Legco can't sit still and be insulted. We should consider reprimanding the chief executive, or casting a vote of no confidence if the government continues to turn a deaf ear to Legco.'

Independent Chim Pui-chung suggested that the letter should include the call for Mr Tsang to respond to the two reports - which call for an overhaul of planning, land sale and financial arrangements - before a decision is made on the project.

'Donald Tsang is only bluffing,' Mr Chim said. 'He won't dare to bulldoze it through the Legco considering the political cost ... that he may lose the re-election as chief executive. So, I urge the Legco to stay united and stand firm.'

Chan Yuen-han, from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the Legco should 'do something' to make its voice heard.

'We should consider mass resignation, a march or writing to the chief executive to express our dissatisfaction,' Ms Chan said.

Meanwhile, Real Estate Developers' Association chairman Stanley Ho Hung-sun, speaking at a Lunar New Year reception, reiterated he wished more developers could benefit from the development.

'As long as it is divided into smaller parts which will allow our over 300 members to take part, the large-scale [developers] will not monopolise the share,' Mr Ho said.

'I'm confident that the government will come up with a proposal acceptable to all parties.'
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Old February 10th, 2009, 11:21 PM   #605
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Monday February 13 2006

A slow dance

Local performing arts groups remain without a proper home while official squabbling delays the West Kowloon Cultural Development, writes Chloe Lai

The building that houses the Sheung Wan wet market is also home to three of the city's major arts groups - the Hong Kong Dance Company, the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre and the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra. Situated above a wet market, the least of the many problems they have is mice.

'I simply can't give you a list of the problems we're facing,' said Norris Wong Shiu-ngor, marketing and development manager of the Hong Kong Dance Company. 'There are just too many. Artists in Hong Kong don't think about problems, we solve them. The survival kit is we have to think positively.'

She is disappointed that the government has not moved ahead with plans to build the West Kowloon Cultural District. 'Wasting time is wasting money,' she said. 'Performing art is physically demanding. Dancers, actors and musicians can't wait years for the arts hub to be complete.'

Construction was originally due to start in April but has been put on hold as uproar over claims of government and big business collusion forced authorities to put the proposal out for public comment. The decision delayed the project for a year, and it was decided the core cultural facilities, such as theatres and museums, would be completed in stages from early 2011.

It is expected the project will face further delays, as the government said at the end of last month that it needed time to study the responses and would announce the next steps at a later date.

Three consortiums - Dynamic Star International, the World City Cultural Park and Sunny Development - announced interest in the development but voiced reservations. Responding to the developers' concerns has bought the government time in the face of a highly critical Legislative Council report that demanded the project go back to square one.

By raising questions instead of fully committing to the project, the developers avoided being sidelined from the project or accepting the not-so-favourable terms Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan set out in October last year.

Official sources said there would be a new push to bolster public opinion towards the project. They said they expected arts groups to be more vocal. A similar tactic was used a year ago. Low-profile but important arts groups voiced their support for the arts hub project at a Legco panel meeting on January 31 last year.

Nearly all the major arts groups have formed some sort of partnership arrangement with one of the three development contenders. Dynamic Star has enlisted the City Contemporary Dance Company, Hong Kong Ballet, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Spring-time Group and Theatre Ensemble. The Hong Kong Dance Company and Chung Ying Theatre Company have an agreement with Sunny Development.

By aligning with arts groups, the bidders boost their public image and, more importantly, get access to key data to help prepare estimates and business plans. While the contents of the agreements are confidential, it is believed they are about giving the arts groups the 'home' that they have been desperately seeking.

But now, many of the groups are uncertain if the contracts were voided under the modified plan announced last October. It seems the winning bidder now has no obligation to operate the arts and cultural facilities.

Communication between the arts groups and the West Kowloon bidders has been limited since the modified plan was announced. But arts groups said there was no evidence that the developers were now ignoring them. 'I didn't test it. But I don't feel this way,' said Margaret Yang, chief executive of the Hong Kong Sinfonietta.

'We're up in the air. But we're always up in the air, with or without West Kowloon. I'm sure no arts groups in Hong Kong will tell you that they rely on West Kowloon. The overall environment has always been harsh. We hope there will be an arts hub for us soon and we hope it is going to be a genuine arts and cultural project.'

The Sinfonietta's offices are in a commercial building in Wan Chai. For practice, it books rehearsal rooms at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. It has to book the rooms six months in advance to ensure it gets the slots it wants.

'The gripe is that any performing arts group should be able to rehearse on the stage that they are going to perform on,' Ms Yang said. 'We only get to try out the stage once, which is normally the morning of the performance. The problem with this is that the musicians, including the conductor and the soloists, have to suddenly get used to a completely different set of acoustics, and they are not able to give their best.

'A home is important not only for musical development but also for the growth of team spirit. Like a soccer team, an orchestra needs a good home that it can grow in and the different homes for performing arts groups will be the roots of arts development in Hong Kong.'

The West Kowloon development has turned the 'small-circle's concern' into a city-wide issue.

Accusations that the government did not conduct proper consultation with arts groups and was ignorant to their needs forced the then chief secretary, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, to hold a series of discussions with the major arts groups. Legco also had a special meeting to listen to their plight.

The Home Affairs Bureau released a consultation paper on the development of performing arts at the end of last year, when the arts hub-related public relations fanfare had died down. The consultation closed at the end of last month.

The paper was prepared by the Performing Arts Committee. The bureau set up three committees - performing arts, museums and library - after it dissolved the Cultural and Heritage Commission. The document is the first of three consultations on the city's future arts and culture development.

For the first time, the government addressed the relationship between existing venues and West Kowloon. It wrote: 'This would certainly increase the number and variety of venues available, as well as [provide] a significant increase in arts funding. We envisage that the WKCD statutory body and the independent fund, once established, would steadily build up the cultural software for the district, which would have a positive impact on the arts scene in Hong Kong.'

The committee proposed a venue partnership scheme in the hope it could serve as a reference for a statutory body to be set up to look after the arts hub.

It hopes to establish a partnership between selected government venues and performing arts groups so the latter will be programme provider to the venue. By establishing a partnership, the venue's artistic character will be strengthened. Arts groups must compete to join the scheme. Those selected must work with the venue operator to enlarge its audience base and seek corporate sponsorship.

The paper also addressed funding. It suggested major performing arts groups would be funded through a consolidated grant. The money would be used to support the groups in hiring, administration, production and rent.

Music critic Oliver Chou said one of the main purposes of the paper was to update the funding policy. 'It is a response to the arts groups' criticism,' he said. 'They are updating the funding policy so there will be a level playing field among the 10 groups. Their plan is by the time West Kowloon is ready, an effective funding policy will be in place. There will also be effective use of existing venues. If West Kowloon is to provide hardware, the consultation is there to provide software.'

But Mr Chou is uncertain whether the proposal will work. 'The essence remains the same. For instance, the new funding body could be formed as a trust or a non-profit-making corporation, with members appointed by the government. [But] I'm not sure how knowledgable the government-appointed members would be about the arts scene.'
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Old February 10th, 2009, 11:22 PM   #606
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Monday February 13 2006

Developers guarded over funding

Chloe Lai

Bidders for the West Kowloon Cultural District consider the amount they contributed to arts and cultural activities since 2004 to be confidential information.

Sun Hung Kai Properties, Cheung Kong Holdings, Henderson Land and Sino Land all refused to disclose the figure for various reasons.

Only Sun Hung Kai Properties gives a full list of arts and cultural programmes it has sponsored since the cultural hub project was announced.

Arts critic Ada Wong Ying-kay said it showed the developers' recent generosity to arts groups was related to their bidding for the cultural hub project. 'It seems they want to hide a not very good record from the public,' she said.

Cheung Kong Holdings, which forms the Dynamic Star International joint venture with Sun Hung Kai Properties, said: 'Over the past 30 years or so, a total of over $10 billion has been donated by the Cheung Kong Group and the Li Ka Shing Foundation for community activities. Of this total, about $880 million was donated for activities related to culture [the arts, religion and sport].'

Sino Land, which leads the Sunny Development consortium bid, said it had difficulties retrieving data and was not able to compile a full list of sponsorship on arts and cultural programmes since 2004. Henderson Land declined to answer questions on arts and cultural sponsorship.

The number of programmes Sun Hung Kai supports jumped nearly two-fold last year on 2004. Last year, it sponsored 25 programmes including ballet, opera and classical music. The number dropped to six this year. '2006 has just started. More programmes will be coming,' a spokeswoman said.

Ms Wong said: 'We need good corporate citizens in Hong Kong. We hope they have missions and strategies that are going to contribute to arts development.'
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Old February 10th, 2009, 11:23 PM   #607
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Tuesday February 21 2006

Cultural project proposal falls flat

LAI YING-KIT

Updated at 5.58pm:
The government?s multi-billion dollar West Kowloon cultural hub project has hit a major hurdle ? none of its shortlisted developers had agreed to new terms suggested by the government, Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan revealed on Tuesday.

Speaking at a Legislative Council session, Mr Hui said a new approach to developing the project would be needed. This was because the three shortlisted developers had not yet decided whether they would proceed after the government added new requirements to the project.

The requirements relate to the changes announced in October last year. These allow a consortium to develop most of the land, while paying $30 billion to a trust which would finance the management and operation of the cultural facilities.

Mr Hui said he had spoken to the developers on Monday; none were prepared to give a clear response.

?We now have to face up to reality. The new arrangements fail to attract an active response from the market. We have to accept that there is some distance between public expectation and the market reality,? Mr Hui told legislators.

?Thus, the government will not push ahead with the West Kowloon project in accordance with the requirements set out in the invitation for proposals,? he said.

Mr Hui said a consultative body would be set up soon to revise the core components and financial arrangements for the project.

The body would comprise three subcommittees and be chaired by Mr Hui. It was expected to make a report to the government in September.

The cultural hub project was proposed by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa in his 1998 policy address. The project was to transform a piece of barren, waterfront reclaimed land, west of Yau Ma Tei, into a cultural centre under a futuristic-looking artificial canopy.

By launching the project, the government hopes to develop Hong Kong as the cultural and arts centre of Asia, attracting tourists and foreign investment.

But the project, which will cost an estimated $200 billion, has sparked a heated debate. Some have questioned whether such an expensive project is in Hong Kong?s best interests.
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Old February 10th, 2009, 11:24 PM   #608
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
Thanks for your support. I believe the previous thread was deleted, but we have a backup in the Hong Kong forum that covers the period you mentioned :

http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=222601

However, the posts are not always in chronological order. You can see the post-April articles in the first few pages.

Happy browsing.
Much appreciated hkskyline, but I looked in that thread and could not find the missing articles. In any case, I've finished uploading all of them...whew!
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Old February 12th, 2009, 10:14 PM   #609
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aphasian View Post
Tuesday February 21 2006

Cultural project proposal falls flat

LAI YING-KIT

Updated at 5.58pm:
The government?s multi-billion dollar West Kowloon cultural hub project has hit a major hurdle ? none of its shortlisted developers had agreed to new terms suggested by the government, Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan revealed on Tuesday.

Speaking at a Legislative Council session, Mr Hui said a new approach to developing the project would be needed. This was because the three shortlisted developers had not yet decided whether they would proceed after the government added new requirements to the project.

The requirements relate to the changes announced in October last year. These allow a consortium to develop most of the land, while paying $30 billion to a trust which would finance the management and operation of the cultural facilities.

Mr Hui said he had spoken to the developers on Monday; none were prepared to give a clear response.

?We now have to face up to reality. The new arrangements fail to attract an active response from the market. We have to accept that there is some distance between public expectation and the market reality,? Mr Hui told legislators.

?Thus, the government will not push ahead with the West Kowloon project in accordance with the requirements set out in the invitation for proposals,? he said.

Mr Hui said a consultative body would be set up soon to revise the core components and financial arrangements for the project.

The body would comprise three subcommittees and be chaired by Mr Hui. It was expected to make a report to the government in September.

The cultural hub project was proposed by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa in his 1998 policy address. The project was to transform a piece of barren, waterfront reclaimed land, west of Yau Ma Tei, into a cultural centre under a futuristic-looking artificial canopy.

By launching the project, the government hopes to develop Hong Kong as the cultural and arts centre of Asia, attracting tourists and foreign investment.

But the project, which will cost an estimated $200 billion, has sparked a heated debate. Some have questioned whether such an expensive project is in Hong Kong?s best interests.
Before seeing any renders i dont have an opinion about this.
Any renders?? Aywhere?
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Old February 14th, 2009, 09:13 PM   #610
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That's actually news from 2006. I guess someone wants to repost all the old stuff.
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Old February 17th, 2009, 05:33 PM   #611
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Art hub panel makeup too narrow, say critics
17 February 2009
South China Morning Post

Members of the consultation panel for the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority were announced yesterday but the composition was immediately criticised as not representative enough.

The 21-member panel is expected to carry out public engagement exercises and solicit views on the overall development plans from different sectors of the community.

The chair finance professor at City University, Stephen Cheung Yan-leung, was appointed as the panel's chairman.

Other members come from the arts, education, tourism, retail and environmental protection sectors.

There are also members from district councils and the Legislative Council.

No member was appointed from the architectural, urban planning or engineering sectors, despite the forthcoming consultation on the arts hub development models. The public will be asked to choose a preferred model from three picked by the government early this year.

Ma Ngok, associate professor in government and public administration at Chinese University, said the panel lacked professionals from the architectural, design and planning sectors. "If the purpose to set up the panel is to help draw up a development plan, more professionals should have been invited," Professor Ma said.

He said the governing authority, lacking transparency, would limit the effectiveness of the panel: "The panel is just responsible for collecting public opinions. We won't know how they will be processed by the decision-making body above."

The authority announced the appointment at 7pm through the government news and media information system.

"The panel's composition is very conservative," former vice-president of the Hong Kong Institute of Planners Pong Yuen-yee said.

"Architectural, planning and engineering professionals should be involved if the authority respects professional views."

Members from other fields include John Tse Wing-ling, former vice-chairman of Wan Chai District Council, the convenor of the People's Panel on West Kowloon, Ada Wong Ying-kay, visual artist Cheng Chi-ming and lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun representing tourism.

The authority could not be reached for comment last night.
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Old February 21st, 2009, 06:29 PM   #612
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Versatility the key to successful arts venue, says UK director
14 February 2009
South China Morning Post

West Kowloon Cultural District planners and local arts practitioners got the chance yesterday to learn from the experience of an English music venue on how to create a successful arts space.

Speaking at a design symposium organised by the Hong Kong Arts Festival Society and the British Council, Anthony Sargent, general director of The Sage Gateshead, said a successful arts venue must be versatile and appeal to a wide spectrum of the community rather than suit the interests of a few.

He said modern arts venues should offer a wide range of performances, from classical music to popular and vernacular genres, and each artistic form would demand different specifications. Grandiose architecture aside, a successful facility should be equipped with the technologies to cope with changing performance needs and should be comfortable rather than luxurious for artists to work in.

Mr Sargent said designers should cater to the audience's "totality of experience", so a facility would not be good enough if acoustics were good but the venue was not accessible, or where catering support was inadequate.

"The common factor of successful venues around the world is that the audience expects life-changing spirit every time they go to that place, irrespective of the design," he said.

In the planning for the West Kowloon Cultural District, Mr Sargent said planners were right to have focused on the master development plan before getting into the details of architectural designs too early in the process, as doing otherwise would risk insufficient consideration of essential needs.

Other speakers included acoustics expert Robert Essert and performance consultant Anne Minors, who discussed architectural issues related to performance venues.

The symposium was part of the 37th Hong Kong Arts Festival, which is running until March 8. More than 190 performances will be staged.
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Old February 25th, 2009, 09:00 AM   #613
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Old March 4th, 2009, 06:59 AM   #614
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Plan for interim museum in historic building scrapped
28 February 2009
South China Morning Post

Plans to house an interim museum - seen as a test run for the flagship M+ museum in West Kowloon - in a historic building have been abandoned, the government told lawmakers yesterday.

The interim museum, dubbed interim M+, was scheduled to open next year at the former Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club premises in Oil Street, North Point, featuring exhibitions of modern visual arts.

The yacht club is a grade two historic building. The government said early last year that the Architectural Services Department would be responsible for the museum's design and refurbishment.

But the Home Affairs Bureau told lawmakers on a joint subcommittee monitoring the West Kowloon Cultural District project that the plan had changed.

"The Oil Street location is no longer appropriate for the interim M+," Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs Cathy Chu Man-ling said. "The museum committee [of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority] will plan to hold relevant exhibitions on Hong Kong Island, and in Kowloon and the New Territories from time to time."

Ms Chu said the government was still exploring other sites to accommodate the interim museum, without naming locations or giving a timetable. A paper submitted to the joint committee yesterday said the yacht club was too small and the government would have to deal with a land contamination problem if a new building was built on the site.

Democratic Party lawmakers Lee Wing-tat and Emily Lau Wai-hing said they were not confident that the future flagship museum in the West Kowloon arts hub would be a success.

"The interim museum was meant to give us some temporary experience of running the future M+," Mr Lee said. "The funding for the arts hub was approved last July but the museum is still not happening."

Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing said finding talented people to run the interim museum was more important. "We have to find the right people to run the museum," he said. "Their ideas should be in line with the museum's objectives."

Ada Wong Ying-kay, a member of the cultural district authority's consultation panel, said the interim museum did not need a fixed location.

"Artists had advocated building a museum which can shift from district to district, like the Chanel exhibition held in Tamar," she said. "A museum located in North Point will be meaningless for people living in Tin Shui Wai. It's difficult to reach."
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Old March 21st, 2009, 06:40 AM   #615
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International experts to join debate on cultural district plan
18 March 2009
South China Morning Post

Nine leading cultural figures from around the world will fly into town next month for a one-day open forum on how Hong Kong can make the West Kowloon Cultural District a success.

Organised by businessman and cultural critic Sir David Tang Wing-cheung and to be held at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts on April 18, How We Can Make a Success of It will welcome questions from the public on how the city can best go about building and managing the HK$21.6 billion project.

Joining Sir David on the expert panel will be Sir Clive Gillinson, executive and artistic director of Carnegie Hall; Thomas Krens, a senior adviser to the Guggenheim Foundation; Sir Nicholas Serota, director of Britain's Tate art galleries; Mark Jones, director of the Victoria and Albert Museum; Charles Saumarez Smith, chief executive of the Royal Academy of Arts; Dame Vivien Duffield, the chairman of the Royal Opera House Endowment Fund; Michael Lynch, director of the Southbank Centre; Julia Peyton-Jones, director of the Serpentine Gallery; and Tim McFarlane, managing director of the Really Useful Company Asia-Pacific.

"This is not an intellectual, academic debate," said Sir David, who will be the moderator of the event.

"This is all about [what] these people [who have spent] their entire life being immersed in running, designing and building cultural institutions {hellip} think we can do in order to make West Kowloon a huge success."

The day-long forum will consist of two three-hour independent sessions following the same format: the guest speakers will each give a four-minute introductory speech before taking questions.

A taped message from British architect Lord Foster - whose landmark canopy concept for the site won a design competition for the project seven years ago but was later scrapped - will also be shown at the beginning of both the morning and afternoon sessions.

Sir David said the audience "can ask whatever they like" but he hopes to get several core messages across at the event. He said the West Kowloon Cultural District would need to engage artistic experts to give advice on the functionality of venues such as concert halls, theatres and visual arts spaces.

"You have to engage these artistic experts earlier rather than later, if anything, and they should be engaged before you even appoint the builders," said Sir David.

"Also important is how to sustain [the site] afterwards. What is the policy of the museum or gallery, are you going to have a permanent collection, how are you going to fund it, how are you going to borrow it?"

He added that most important of all was that the various artistic heads appointed to the cultural district should be given total autonomy to run their venues. The government should never interfere.

Sir David said he would invite all the members of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, chaired by the Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, to the forum because "they are the people who are going to make the difference".

He said he hoped the forum would lead to some meaningful exchanges between the overseas experts and local decision makers.

"I am not here to ask the panel to prove anybody wrong. I am not here to ask them to go and say we have done it wrong up till now. As far as I am concerned, I want us to look forward, together with people in the government and the [authority], to at least listen to their experience. You can be sceptical but let's hear what they have to say," he said.

"People already said to me we don't want all these people to be talking down to us. Well, if they are right and they are experienced, we'll be very stupid not to listen to them. But we can still make our own minds up."

Sir David said he was financing the event himself because he felt passionate about the project and wanted it to be "a raging success".

"But I know that if people don't listen, this will turn into a white elephant," he added.

He said he believed that the West Kowloon project, the first phase of which is scheduled to be completed in 2014-15, would help lift the "artistic and cultural sensitivity and disposition" of the city through building new audiences for the arts.

But he said he wanted it to be the best.

"You would end up throwing HK$21 billion down the drain if you just want something mediocre," he said.
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Old March 22nd, 2009, 06:05 PM   #616
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Public gets brief glimpse of board at work
18 March 2009
South China Morning Post

The first meeting of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority board was open to the public for less than four minutes yesterday - which critics said showed a lack of sincerity to the community.

The fourth board meeting, broadcast live on the Web, began with the first and only item that was open to a public audience.

"We feel that this is the best way to reach out and allow as many people as possible, in a convenient way, to participate," board chairman Henry Tang Ying-yen said in explaining the decision to use a live webcast instead of opening the conference room to the public. Documents and the meeting agenda were uploaded on the authority's website in advance.

He started the meeting by reading out the gist of a paper on inviting consultancy studies for market analysis on museum and performance venues. "Views?" he asked. No one responded. "Agreed, thank you," he replied. The webcast was then blacked out after 3 minutes and 51 seconds, ending the open session.

Civic Party lawmaker Alan Leong Kah-kit described the webcast as a "farce" and "window dressing". "If you're going to start a meaningful public engagement process, you first need to equip the public with information. I really don't have much expectation on this kind of so-called engagement. It's going to be a nightmare if the decision-making process continues to be so top-down."

Ada Wong Ying-kay, a member of the authority's consultation panel, said she was surprised such a short part of the meeting was open and said the arrangements showed a lack of respect to the public.

"The West Kowloon project belongs to the public, not the government nor the board. I don't see why so many topics are sensitive." She urged the board to meet in a room with seats available for the public, for more engagement.

Charles Peter Mok, another panel member, said he was confused by the arrangement. "I was sitting there after the blackout, wondering if the webcast would resume. The website doesn't set out the whole agenda."

Board member Paul Chan Mo-po agreed that the brief open session appeared "odd" to the audience and that some items on yesterday's agenda, such as public engagement activities, could have been discussed openly. Another board member, Allan Zeman, said he hoped meetings in the next few months "will start to see some resemblance of a normal open meeting" after commercial tender winners were announced.

Mr Tang said in a press release that parts of future meetings that did not involve commercial and sensitive information would be open. The arrangement "fully reflects the authority's principle of operating in a highly transparent manner and its spirit of being responsible to the public". He said the consultation panel would meet openly when discussing organising activities to invite the public to choose from the three shortlisted development plans.
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Old March 24th, 2009, 09:19 AM   #617
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Hongkong has massive building even on the top of the hills.... People must learn how to speak English... having hard time to communite this local in the airport.
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Old March 24th, 2009, 06:29 PM   #618
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Old March 27th, 2009, 08:51 PM   #619
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Disney designer to head arts hub authority
26 March 2009
South China Morning Post

A designer who helped develop the Hong Kong and Paris Disneylands has been chosen to head the authority in charge of building the city's arts hub.

The decision to appoint Angus Cheng Siu-chuen, also a former general manager of the MTR Corporation, was made at an authority board meeting last week.

Authority sources said Mr Cheng was picked from 67 candidates from the arts, engineering and architecture sectors for the post, which pays HK$1.5 million a year. But a source close to the authority's senior management said his appointment had not been confirmed.

Job terms were still being negotiated with Mr Cheng, the source said. Mr Cheng could not be reached for comment.

If appointed, he will run the authority for two years, during which time he will oversee the start of construction on the long-delayed project on reclaimed land on the West Kowloon waterfront.

Mr Cheng graduated with a business administration degree and obtained a master's degree in urban design in the United States.

He worked for eight years with the French construction company Dragages, which was involved in major infrastructure projects in Hong Kong.

He joined Walt Disney in the 1990s as a development manager for the Disneyland Resort Paris. In 2001, he set up "imagineering" operations for Hong Kong Disneyland - responsible for its master planning, development, design and engineering.

He left Disney in 2005 and later became the MTR Corporation's general manager, specialising in property investment. He recently joined investment bank Goldman Sachs.

A source said Mr Cheng's experience made him suitable for the position, as West Kowloon would be a construction site for the next few years. Another authority source said directors for museums and performing arts venues would be hired later.

"We need someone who has management expertise and experience in handling major projects at this stage," the source said.
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Old March 31st, 2009, 07:54 PM   #620
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Concerns over new arts hub head
27 March 2009
South China Morning Post

Artists and architects have expressed concerns that the city's first arts hub could be turned into a theme park after learning a former Disney planner will head the arts hub authority.

The South China Morning Post reported yesterday that the board of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority had endorsed the selection of a former Walt Disney Company development director, Angus Cheng Siu-chuen, as the authority's executive director.

The authority is still negotiating the job terms with Mr Cheng.

Responsible for planning Hong Kong Disneyland from 2001 to 2005, Mr Cheng also helped develop the Disneyland Resort Paris in the 1990s.

His experience in handling major projects at a French construction company, and property investment experience at the MTR Corporation also helped him get the top job at the authority.

The recruitment advertisement said the two-year interim executive director would be paid HK$1.5 million a year, and that exposure to arts and culture would be an asset.

But Tanya Chan, a Civic Party lawmaker who is monitoring the arts hub project, said Mr Cheng had no track record in arts-related projects.

"Apart from hardware development, people at the executive level have to handle cultural management as well," she said.

Authority consultation panel member Ada Wong Ying-kay said the first two years of development were crucial.

"It determines the scale and direction of the arts hub," she said. "It reflects the government's colonial style of thinking, treating the arts hub as a Disneyland."

Art critic Oscar Ho Hing-kay said the arts hub was not about globalised entertainment, and its head should have artistic judgment and be familiar with local culture. "It's not too much about this person. It's about the authority's whole mindset."

A source close to the authority's board said experts sitting on its committees would ensure that the arts hub's development was on the right track. The executive director would be responsible for monitoring daily operations.

Another source close to the authority's senior management said the executive director would be assisted by a museums director and a performing-arts director who would be recruited later.

The district's chief executive, who would replace the executive director in the long run, would be recruited after the authority's organisational structure was settled.

Freddie Hai Tuen-tai, a member of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects' West Kowloon Cultural District taskforce, said it was good to have an executive director with experience in managing large facilities.

"I hope he will not turn the arts hub into a theme park," Mr Hai said.

He said the arts hub should be a community that grew organically, while Disneyland was a predetermined, themed mode of living.
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