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Old July 24th, 2009, 05:01 PM   #661
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Yeh but how are they going to effectively connect this separated piece of land with the rest of the society? Why would you go to the tip of the WKCD if you're not trying to get into a museum/concert anyway?

I'm hoping that it wouldn't be another Cultural Centre (pre-star avenue)
The edge of the district should reach Canton Road, so hopefully it'll draw the shoppers out for a relaxing end to their day. Then perhaps they can catch the train to the airport or Guangzhou.
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Old July 24th, 2009, 06:16 PM   #662
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The edge of the district should reach Canton Road, so hopefully it'll draw the shoppers out for a relaxing end to their day. Then perhaps they can catch the train to the airport or Guangzhou.
Problem is that the train to Guangzhou is only between the current Kowloon Station and Victoria Towers. It's not going to draw lots of people outwards towards the coastline if we only have concert venues and museums out there. Plus... the plan shows a VERY wide carriageway cutting between Union Square and the WKCD.

If we can somehow draw people from Nathan Road via Kowloon Park or something towards the edge of WKCD it would be helpful, but I doubt people from there would ever be interested to move this way.
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Old July 24th, 2009, 06:37 PM   #663
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Problem is that the train to Guangzhou is only between the current Kowloon Station and Victoria Towers. It's not going to draw lots of people outwards towards the coastline if we only have concert venues and museums out there. Plus... the plan shows a VERY wide carriageway cutting between Union Square and the WKCD.

If we can somehow draw people from Nathan Road via Kowloon Park or something towards the edge of WKCD it would be helpful, but I doubt people from there would ever be interested to move this way.
Hmm .. they need to improve Austin Road to create that gateway!
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Old July 24th, 2009, 09:16 PM   #664
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TV channels urged to focus more on arts
24 July 2009
South China Morning Post

The two free-to-air television stations should increase their coverage of the arts in view of the development of the West Kowloon Cultural District, the Arts Development Council says.

It says Television Broadcasts (TVB) and Asia Television (ATV) should increase by half the time they devote to arts programmes and allocate about two minutes for arts news during their evening newscasts.

The calls are made in a submission to the Broadcasting Authority, which is reviewing the programming and services of TVB and ATV. The stations have to observe a set of programme requirements, one of which states they need to broadcast on the Chinese-language channel a minimum of 60 minutes of arts and culture programmes a week, between 8am and midnight.

In its submission, the council says 60 minutes is inadequate and it should be increased to 90 minutes. "The required broadcasting schedule of arts and culture programmes should be changed to the period from 6.30pm to 11.50pm, which will be in line with the watching preference of free-TV viewers," it says.

"Following the implementation of the West Kowloon Cultural District project, there is growing need for the development of arts and culture and the promotion of arts education in the society."

TVB external affairs deputy controller Tsang Sing-ming said the station welcomed the comments but added free-to-air television was aimed at a mass audience. "We shall give more time for arts and culture programmes in our high-definition channels," Mr Tsang said.

An ATV spokesman declined to comment.

The last of the three public hearings is to be held tonight at Tuen Mun Town Hall.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 09:34 AM   #665
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Old July 25th, 2009, 11:14 PM   #666
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Old July 26th, 2009, 07:55 AM   #667
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The search for our cultural commonwealth
20 July 2009
SCMP

With three teams of architects announced for West Kowloon, and a three-month consultation with them beginning in September, what sort of cultural district do we want?

More immediately, what kind of dialogue do we desire? In that sense, it is important to differentiate between exchanging information, dialogue, shared thinking, developing ideas together and finding a collective voice.

Wish lists aside, we need to talk about the central issues: first, education - children and young people being a centrepiece of the cultural district; second, accessibility, engagement and a sense of shared ownership within the community; and, third, iconography deriving from within - through the integrity and quality of design, and of the project being conceived "from the inside out".

External amenities, internal aesthetics, acoustics, sound isolation, climate control and a general feeling of well-being are crucial to the success of a cultural complex. Public spaces in integrated arts complexes need to be places that audiences, artists and visitors enjoy being in.

The importance of nurturing the next generation of participants and audiences, as well as community cultural development, is paramount: in short, we are talking about building a cultural commonwealth.

And, in this regard, the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority's intentions, in terms of providing space for education, will be formative.

The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra's artistic director and chief conductor, Edo de Waart, suggested that the designers should include a carefully thought-out school of music.

The same case can be made for all the arts. The development of cultural "software" will depend on the interaction between education, local artists, professional companies and creative enterprises. Education has a formative and crucial role to play - now, perhaps, more than at any other time.

As the effects of the global recession affect Hong Kong, we might also look again at West Kowloon as reflecting a turning point in thinking about how we wish to live in the modern world.

Making available a landmark and iconic site, and potentially one open to the entire community, is exciting in itself. What is planned is wholesale, integrated and vast - not some cosmetic makeover. It is of global import. Communal belief in the significance and value of arts and culture is fundamental, not only for today's generation, but also for tomorrow's.

It is an opportunity of a lifetime. Well thought through, West Kowloon can help position Hong Kong for an arts and cultural renaissance, to help - if not turn our cultural world upside down - then, perhaps, right it, and balance it with quality-of-life essentials.

We must imagine what the future will hold. West Kowloon should dare to open minds to the opportunities change brings. And it should seize those opportunities for the people of Hong Kong.

These are brave new times - to dare, venture and experiment; a signal moment in the history of Hong Kong. So let's be adventurous. But, most of all, let's be confident that we do live in a place of talent, opportunity and enterprise.

In reality, arts and culture are not so much about themselves - only in the rarest moments are they ever about arts and culture per se.

They are about practically everything else under the sun. They are about life's struggles, about people who have fought against the odds, and such lives make rich and storied histories.

Little wonder, then, that the title of almost every Greek play bears the name of a woman, an outsider, a child or a slave - people who have struggled. They were the people unable to speak in the senate, who found their voice in music, dance and poetry.

Kevin Thompson is director of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts
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Old July 27th, 2009, 07:02 PM   #668
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Opinion : Recession gives urgency to cultural district
27 July 2009
South China Morning Post

As global recessionary pressures continue to impact on Hong Kong ("Jobless rate highest in four years and worse is to come", July 21), infrastructure projects assume a new priority.

Prompted by the three project consultants for West Kowloon Cultural District, we might revisit and reaffirm the cultural district's import. "The project will elevate Hong Kong by reviving its spirit," says Rocco Yim Sen-kee and, immediately germane with unemployment remaining highest in the construction industry in Hong Kong, Lord Foster adds that, "initiatives can take place immediately".

It is perhaps worth referencing the Wall Street crash which hit its depth in 1931 and 1932. If the present recessionary road takes a similar trajectory, we shall be looking into a sizeable pothole for some time. This then is a moment to consider how all corners of our community, together with those involved in arts and culture, might play a role in recovery and in rebuilding, even those for whom access to a cultural district might previously have seemed like journeying to a remote and foreign land. If the acronym WKCD sounds like an internet radio station, then at least broadband connections invoke easy accessibility, open to all, watershed events and waterfront.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration, it represented a remarkable watershed. Unemployed people and artists were hired to rebuild the very fabric of society. WPA built schools, libraries, roads and bridges. It reinvested and took some of the most vulnerable and gave them back their lives by restoring their self-esteem, their dignity and purpose, their sense of well-being. They were not simply hired hands but had an overriding sense of purpose, a social context and inspired a new generation of artists.

Whatever the people decide in terms of the choice of architect for the cultural district, at issue is not only architecture ("culture is not something we can define simply through architecture," says Rem Koolhaas), nor the vitality and interplay within the cultural district itself. There must be a symbiotic, but also cultural, revitalisation of Hong Kong, that will extend opportunities to connect with all kinds of people in all parts of the city and beyond.

People, given a new sense of purpose and for many a chance to experience and connect with the arts at a visceral level, often seem to find through their own work and endeavour, a sense of fulfilment and a new foundation for living.

Kevin Thompson, director, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts
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Old July 29th, 2009, 06:59 PM   #669
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Old August 4th, 2009, 05:37 PM   #670
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Old August 6th, 2009, 01:31 PM   #671
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Top architects may not be best choice for cultural district plan
6 August 2009
South China Morning Post

I refer to the letter by H. C. Bee ("Mix of architects good for project", July 27), regarding the conceptual planning of the West Kowloon Cultural District that three leading architects are poised to undertake.

Just because great architects can design stunning buildings - as the three certainly have - does not mean they can develop a plan to turn a huge new plot into a vibrant district. Great urban districts possess a character that is organic and authentic. Neither quality is achieved overnight and both embody a measure of randomness and imperfection that architects can't plan.

What follows will depend largely on how the government defines the problem. If it simply tells the architects it needs a comprehensive development plan, we could find ourselves looking at grandiose architectural visions like Lord Foster's roof. These are, after all, star architects.

The government should ask the architects to give it the benefit of their creativity and discipline, but more in regard to planning than architecture. They should think long-term, planning for a successful destination in 2025 and a great urban district in 2040. The architects should incorporate lessons learned from projects like Tokyo's Odaiba and Hamburg's HafenCity. Also they must break the site into smaller development parcels, so we can involve different developers to get the variety one finds in a city.

They need to help us see how to develop the district in phases, so we retain flexibility to shape the hardware to the evolving software. Rome wasn't conceived in a day. Great architects understand this better than we do, but won't labour to get the point across to a prospective client in the midst of a beauty contest. They are far likelier to deliver something great when they have a strong client with clear objectives. This process is beginning with public consultation and I fear the government is simply punting the problem to the architects.

It would have made more sense for the government to wait until the authority could lead, or, alternatively, to have engaged a small team of experts from the arts, development and design fields to serve in the interim as the client.
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Old August 9th, 2009, 07:03 PM   #672
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Old August 10th, 2009, 06:59 PM   #673
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Copycat warning from cultural hub consultant
The Standard
Monday, August 10, 2009

The creators of the West Kowloon Cultural District project should steer clear of the `Bilbao effect,' according to one of the consultants for the cultural hub.

"There is certainly an expectation on visual presence of the WKCD," Ole Scheeren, Office for Metropolitan Architecture partner, told The Standard. "But what is important is to identify what Hong Kong needs and what can symbolize the city."

Led by Pritzker Prize laureate Rem Koolhaas, OMA was appointed one of the three conceptual plan consultants for the WKCD ahead of the start next month of the public engagement exercise.

Over the past 12 years, the `Bilbao effect' - a star architect designing a landmark for a city - has been dominating the architecture world.

Since its opening in 1997, the Guggenheim Museum, designed by Canadian architect Frank Gehry, had helped revitalize Bilbao by luring tourists to the Spanish industrial city. "The media has created a desire for physical imagery and every city in the world wants a Bilbao Guggenheim," the German architect said.

However, Scheeren said the economic downturn has seen the decline of iconic architecture in the world.

"Instead of proliferation of iconic images in a city, people are now paying attention to the land value," he said.

"Hong Kong is a city with many activities happening on limited land in front of a waterfront. We should look for cultural integration instead of solely building spectacular architecture."

Scheeren, who also designed the CCTV Tower in Beijing, said the building was not intended to give the "wow- effect" despite its strong visual presence.

Although OMA did not take part in the WKCD project three years ago, Scheeren was aware of the single-tender incident and its eventual scrapping.

"The project is now disconnected from private money and should be held publicly accountable," Scheeren said. He said his company intends to work with urban planners to look for features that can best represent Hong Kong.

He was not worried about controversy arising from the cultural hub, pointing out that the CCTV Tower had also come under fire from critics, who dubbed it "the pants."

"I'd rather focus on how to address the public than dealing with the political issues," he said.

In addition to OMA, British master Norman Foster and local architect Rocco Yim Sen-kee were also appointed to the team of conceptual plan consultants.

A final development plan will again go through a public consultation before it is submitted to the Town Planning Board in the second quarter of 2011.
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Old August 19th, 2009, 05:45 PM   #674
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After first arts hub head quit, next one to get say on hirings
15 August 2009
SCMP

The head of the authority charged with building an arts hub in West Kowloon will have a say in the selection of its executive directors once he or she is appointed. The first executive head of the authority quit this summer after just a week when he discovered he lacked authority over executive directors.

The recruitment process has been adjusted after arts critics said the executive directors might not be able to work smoothly with the chief executive if they were recruited at the same time as the latter.

Sin Chung-kai, chairman of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority's remuneration committee, said it hoped to recruit a chief executive this year or early next year and the successful candidate would be involved in recruiting the six executive directors.

The authority will oversee construction and operation of the cultural district - a complex of performance venues, museums and commercial properties - on 40 hectares of reclaimed land in West Kowloon. The project's first phase is due for completion in 2015.

Nine separate boards will be formed to choose a chief executive, the executive directors, a legal adviser and an internal auditor. Those chosen for the other posts will need the endorsement of the chief executive.

The authority says the successful candidate for chief executive must have at least 20 years' experience leading an organisation and shaping its business model and development; cultural and artistic experience; and the ability to manage relationships with a wide range of stakeholders in both the public and private sectors.

Albert Lai Kwong-tak, vice-chairman of the Civic Party, said the future of the arts hub would depend heavily on how open the authority's board is. "The CEO is just recruited to implement the board's ideas," he said.

Culture critic Mathias Woo Yan-wai said recruiting a chief executive from overseas might marginalise local talent. He also said that before recruiting managers the authority should formulate a clear vision for the cultural district. "We don't even know what kinds of collections will be put in the museums," he said.

Mr Sin said this was to avoid repeating the mistake which led the first executive director it hired, Angus Cheng Siu-chuen, to quit.

"We do have to learn from experience," he said. "Now we will tell the candidates about the authority's structure right from the beginning."

Mr Cheng resigned after discovering that, rather than being second in command, he was to be just one of six executive directors. The confusion arose because the authority's structure had not been established when he signed his contract.

Mr Sin said the chief executive's salary would be on par with that of the head of medium-sized organisations such as the Urban Renewal Authority, whose head is paid close to HK$4 million a year.
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Old August 20th, 2009, 11:52 PM   #675
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I love the pictures you guys are posting..I hope to visit there someday..it looks amazing!
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Old August 25th, 2009, 07:20 PM   #676
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Old August 25th, 2009, 09:10 PM   #677
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How cultured is Hong Kong? Hmm.... I suppose it outscores some of its regional rivals which really are cultural deserts (I'm thinking of two cities beginning with "S" here ) but in terms of serious culture Hong Kong is a definite lightweight. However it can claim to be the Hollywood of the Chinese speaking world. The film and pop music industry are based in Hong Kong and most of the Chinese superstars live there. Off the top of my head I cannot name any Chinese male film or pop stars who are not from Hong Kong (I'm thinking Andy Lau, Tony Leung (both of them), Edison Chan, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Chow Yun Fat, Leslie Cheung etc). Hong Kong also has directors like Andy Lau (again) and Wong Kar Wai. Female stars include Faye Wong, Maggie Cheung, and Carina Lau. Zhang Ziyi got Hong Kong citizenship, and Gong Li is seen at all the parties and got married there. However none of that genuine creative and cultural activity in Hong Kong relied on a large government-led development project. Industries and art scenes find their own space. That's why this scheme seems as ludicrously artificial as the Cyberport project that (failed) to create a Silicon Valley in Hong Kong. If Hong Kong fritters its money on a cluster of second rate museums that neither tourists nor residents take seriously, then it will be a total waste. Why not just subsidise some film studios, maybe build an opera venue like those in Shanghai and Beijing (or best of all Sydney - it has the location after all), and then let the rest of the land be developed for shopping (Hong Kong's real culture) with some recreational space like that park they're putting together in Singapore. That would be efficient with money, successful urbanism, and would accurately reflect Hong Kong's actual culture. A book museum just doesn't sound promising. It sounds artificial, out of tune with Hong Kong, and methinks no one will bother going there.

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Old August 28th, 2009, 01:54 AM   #678
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^ Right. That's why instead of even trying, with a goal to IMPROVE HK's culture standing, maybe we should just build new skyscrapers with the land :-)
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Old August 28th, 2009, 02:40 AM   #679
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How cultured is Hong Kong? Hmm.... I suppose it outscores some of its regional rivals which really are cultural deserts (I'm thinking of two cities beginning with "S" here ) but in terms of serious culture Hong Kong is a definite lightweight. However it can claim to be the Hollywood of the Chinese speaking world. The film and pop music industry are based in Hong Kong and most of the Chinese superstars live there. Off the top of my head I cannot name any Chinese male film or pop stars who are not from Hong Kong (I'm thinking Andy Lau, Tony Leung (both of them), Edison Chan, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Chow Yun Fat, Leslie Cheung etc). Hong Kong also has directors like Andy Lau (again) and Wong Kar Wai. Female stars include Faye Wong, Maggie Cheung, and Carina Lau. Zhang Ziyi got Hong Kong citizenship, and Gong Li is seen at all the parties and got married there. However none of that genuine creative and cultural activity in Hong Kong relied on a large government-led development project. Industries and art scenes find their own space. That's why this scheme seems as ludicrously artificial as the Cyberport project that (failed) to create a Silicon Valley in Hong Kong. If Hong Kong fritters its money on a cluster of second rate museums that neither tourists nor residents take seriously, then it will be a total waste. Why not just subsidise some film studios, maybe build an opera venue like those in Shanghai and Beijing (or best of all Sydney - it has the location after all), and then let the rest of the land be developed for shopping (Hong Kong's real culture) with some recreational space like that park they're putting together in Singapore. That would be efficient with money, successful urbanism, and would accurately reflect Hong Kong's actual culture. A book museum just doesn't sound promising. It sounds artificial, out of tune with Hong Kong, and methinks no one will bother going there.
Interesting thoughts.

While I agree with you that creative arts should be left to 'find their own space' without government intervention, my belief is that if the government needs to kick-start this process and play an active role in creating the "hardware".

Part of this is cultural. In places like the US, many of the museums had their start through wealthy collectors (Solomon Guggenheim, for example). I can't see Li Ka-Shing or the Kwok family doing something like that (although they are generous donors in other ways). Moreover, while this is changing, I think many HKers don't see creative arts necessarily as a good career. In any case, one can hope that WKCD won't just be another iconic building, but that funding will also go to supporting various cultural groups who would use the new venues.

Add in the fact that tourism is an important economic driver and that other Asian cities are also trying to lay claim as a cultural hub, you can see why the government is so keen to try to use West Kowloon as a differentiator. I don't think an opera house and another shopping center would cut it.

HK doesn't yet compare to NY or London, but when it comes to "serious culture", it has come a long way from even a few years ago.
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Old August 28th, 2009, 05:39 AM   #680
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Quote:
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How cultured is Hong Kong? Hmm.... I suppose it outscores some of its regional rivals which really are cultural deserts (I'm thinking of two cities beginning with "S" here ) but in terms of serious culture Hong Kong is a definite lightweight. Why not just subsidise some film studios, maybe build an opera venue like those in Shanghai and Beijing (or best of all Sydney - it has the location after all), and then let the rest of the land be developed for shopping (Hong Kong's real culture) with some recreational space like that park they're putting together in Singapore. That would be efficient with money, successful urbanism, and would accurately reflect Hong Kong's actual culture. A book museum just doesn't sound promising. It sounds artificial, out of tune with Hong Kong, and methinks no one will bother going there.
First of all I have to take a second look serious culture, I do not believe anyone has the right to judge what is considered serious culture or not. Every city (well most cities) have their own distinct identity, their own quirks and trends that creates a unique cultural atmosphere. Hong Kong, with its roots deep in both Chinese and Western cultures, actually has a rich field of visual and performing arts, as well as in other cultural fields, if heavily borrowed from it's roots. However, through it's time as a colony it has also both balanced and fused its cultural roots to create its own identity, and in that sense, can promote itself successfully on that old advantage, as a place where east meets west, where there's plenty of both, and some of it has mixed and intertwined in a unique manner.

But I do agree with you in that building a dedicated cultural district is woefully artificial and too small and concentrated to be of genuine appeal. Hong Kong is actually quite rich, if unrecognized in both traditional and western performing arts, and a landmark structure, particularly one that can bring together the contrast in HOng Kong's history, and its distinct effect on its cultural landscape, would be good. The rest should be planned carefully, and as anything else I think a try-hard and dedicated effort by the government would not be advisable, as it needs to be interspersed and mix well with the rest of the city...

As you mention (and as I was thinking at first) Singapore is actually doing a good job in bringing about both advances in athletics and the arts by training its people and planning its developments in a comparatively terse and focused manner, and doing it in venues that would gain it international attention. I think a book museum may be over the top, but a historical library would certainly be warranted (ie a library with a focus on classical literature, with a few important pieces as show case items), as Hong Kong definitly have a few pieces of literature worth show casing, and a deep enough history for some good reading, but maybe not enough for an individual institution for both.
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