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Old January 7th, 2011, 09:40 AM   #761
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Fresh culture shock as West Kowloon CEO quits
7 January 2011
The Standard

The chief executive of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority has resigned for "health reasons'' just five months after arriving in the job.

Graham Sheffield is the second top executive of the authority - the organization in charge of creating an art and culture hub on a 40-hectare reclamation site on the Victoria Harbour waterfront - to quit within relatively short order. Sheffield was a high-profile organizer in the London arts scene before being lured to Hong Kong last August, which was soon after Angus Cheng Siu- chuen's shock resignation.

Cheng spent a week in the position of executive director before quitting for "personal reasons."

Members of the authority board will be informed about Sheffield's resignation at an emergency meeting being convened today, a source told Sing Tao Daily, sister paper of The Standard.

"He has resigned for health reasons and the board will soon reopen the recruitment exercise,'' the source said. "Related matters or arrangements will be discussed at today's meeting.''

Sheffield, now back in London, refused to comment on the resignation, telling a reporter only that he was at a gathering with friends. The 58-year-old Sheffield had been artistic director of London's Barbican Centre. His recruitment for the Hong Kong job was sealed last March after a months-long global search by the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority. His employment package during his three-year contract included an annual salary of about HK$3.5 million.

A second source close to the authority said there were rumors Sheffield's girlfriend, an artist in the United States, was unhappy about him being in Hong Kong. But the other source insisted Sheffield's decision had nothing to do with his personal life and was purely for health reasons.

Sheffield said during a Hong Kong media gathering on December 17 that he was heading back to Britain for a 10-day stay with his family.

He had said earlier that he had little insight on local arts and culture but vowed to create a "global impact" with the HK$21.6 billion Kowloon project.

"We will put Hong Kong firmly on the map of a must-see, must-experience destination for culture seekers across the world,'' he declared.

A recruitment exercise to replace Sheffield as chief executive is expected to be launched quickly.

The authority says the successful candidate will have at least 20 years' experience leading an organization and shaping its business model and cultural and artistic experience.

The first phase of the construction of the cultural district is due for completion in 2015.
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Old January 11th, 2011, 04:11 PM   #762
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Ex-Swire boss tipped for top job at arts hub
11 January 2011
SCMP

A former property executive with a strong arts background has been tipped as a top candidate to succeed Graham Sheffield, who resigned last week as chief executive of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority for health reasons.

Stephan Spurr, who is in his 50s and left his post as the general manager, office, of Swire Properties at the end of last month, was on the final shortlist when the West Kowloon Cultural District authority picked Sheffield five months ago. Two people close to the authority said Spurr was not chosen because, during negotiations with the authority over the job, he asked for more autonomy to run the cultural district.

"He would have been a better candidate," said one of the people. "However his property background and demand for more independence may have been considered politically incorrect.

"The authority should hire a person who is from Hong Kong, who is able to stand up to the bureaucracy and tell the officials what he wants them to do for him.

"And they should hire someone who has enough local contacts to keep him ahead of politics."

Born in Japan and educated in Canada, India and Britain, Spurr has a strong background in the Hong Kong property market due to his time with Hong Kong Land and Swire Properties. He is also an avid arts lover and a drama fan. He was the vice-chairman of Shakespeare4All, which he directed for a few years.

During his more than 20 years of service with Swire he managed to incorporate his passion for the arts and culture into business. He was a key planner when Swire transformed rundown Quarry Bay into the upmarket, artistic Island East office area during the past two decades. He was also involved in a number of arts-related projects, including Artistree, which turned some of the office space in Island East into a multipurpose venue for exhibitions and performances by arts groups. The venue was opened in 2008 with the well-received Victoria & Albert Museum's Vivienne Westwood retrospective - a show rejected by the government, which believed the public had no interest in such an event.

In 2003 when three property giants were competing for the now defunct single tender for the West Kowloon Cultural District, Spurr worked with world-renowned architect Frank Ghery on an alternative proposal for the arts hub, suggesting that all the facilities should be fairly distributed across both sides of Victoria Harbour instead of concentrated in one area.

Spurr declined to comment yesterday when asked whether he was interested in the job.

Authority board member Allan Zeman declined to comment on whether Spurr would be a potential candidate to fill the 58-year-old Sheffield's shoes. "We are just starting to look around now," Zeman said, adding that the headhunter was currently looking at who might be suitable for the job.

Zeman said Spurr was one of the people interviewed for the top job, but added that Spurr's demand for more autonomy and his property background were not the reasons why he was not selected.

Some from the arts community felt Spurr would be good leading the arts hub. Ada Wong Ying-kay, a member of the authority's consultative committee, said Spurr would be a good choice to succeed Sheffield. "The WKCD is now at its development and construction stage and we need a local who knows how to build things."

The authority's performing arts committee member, Fredric Mao Chun-fai, said that he had known Spurr previously as a keen patron of the arts. "He came to see performances and was very concerned about what was happening in the arts sector," said Mao.

"The good thing about him is that he was among those few Westerners familiar with Hong Kong and the local arts scene. But whether he's a suitable candidate will depend on exactly what the authority wanted the CEO to do."

Art critic Oscar Ho Hing-kay said he was impressed by Swire's alternative proposal for the arts hub back then. "You must have guts in order to publicise such an alternative proposal," Ho said.

His property background should not be a reason why Spurr was not given the job.

"As long as that person is professional and artistic, we should give him a chance," Ho said. "If the government does not have the tolerance to accommodate the right talents, we might as well just not do any cultural projects at all."
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Old January 11th, 2011, 04:11 PM   #763
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Sleepless in TST: how the strain got to arts hub chief
9 January 2011
SCMP

The stress and strain of heading Hong Kong's most ambitious and large-scale cultural project began to show on ex-West Kowloon Cultural District chief executive officer Graham Sheffield late last year, says one of the top executives who worked closely with him.

Sheffield's shock resignation last week on health grounds came just five months into his three-year, HK$3.5 million-a-year contract.

The chairman of the West Kowloon Cultural District's performing arts committee, Allan Zeman, said signs that the pressure was mounting on Sheffield, 58, began to emerge in late November.

Around that time, Zeman said, Sheffield, the former artistic director of London's Barbican Centre, told him he was feeling "more and more unwell as time went on".

"Graham told me that he was having trouble sleeping and was increasingly suffering from fatigue. He felt constantly tired," Zeman said.

"I did not think it was that serious at first and thought that a good rest back at his home in the UK over the Christmas holidays would recharge his batteries and he would return to Hong Kong revitalised.

"He consulted his doctor in the UK and afterwards his doctor contacted us to say that he needed complete rest.

"It was soon after this that Graham phoned to say that he had decided to resign because of ill health.

"We were not informed as to exactly what the illness is and it's really none of our business. It was simply just an unforeseen health problem. He loved Hong Kong and made the transition to living here easily. I only hope that he gets back to full health soon."

Sheffield did not return phone calls yesterday.

Members of the arts community have speculated that over-the-top government bureaucracy and excessive red tape may have contributed to his illness, but Zeman denied this.

"That's not the case at all. If anything the government has been completely hands-off. They have left us to proceed with our plans with no problems whatsoever and no interference," he said.

Zeman also did not believe that Sheffield's departure would radically affect the arts hub's operation and it was still "all systems go".

"Graham's departure will not delay the project in any way and everything is still going very much to plan," Zeman said.

The first phase of the HK$21.6 billion project is due to open from 2015, and the second phase from 2026.
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Old January 20th, 2011, 11:25 AM   #764
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Next arts hub chief may get a deputy to share workload
15 January 2011
SCMP

The next chief executive of the West Kowloon Cultural District may get a deputy or a chief operating officer to ease the pressure of the job.

This follows the sudden departure of arts hub chief Graham Sheffield last week for health reasons.

The idea by the board of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority was tabled at yesterday's Legislative Council meeting. Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, chairman of the board, answered inquiries from lawmakers about Sheffield's abrupt resignation.

Many believe that Sheffield's departure was triggered by operational issues rather than health problems. But Tang was adamant that Sheffield left because of his health, showing three doctors' notes to prove the point. He described the resignation as unfortunate.

Sheffield quit after only months on the job. Tang said the former artistic director of the Barbican Centre in London first expressed his wish to go on December 15.

This was just days before he flew back to London after attending a Christmas gathering with the media on December 17. Sheffield appeared chatty at the time, albeit a little tired.

Tang said he tried to talk Sheffield out of resigning. But a week later, Tang received a doctor's note instructing Sheffield to stay in London and said he should be released from duty immediately.

A second doctor's note came through at the end of last month, again saying that he should remain in London. "[The doctor] insisted that he should not travel back to Hong Kong ... and should under no circumstances go back alone," Tang told lawmakers, quoting part of the doctor's notes.

The doctor repeated the instructions in a third note and suggested 58-year old Sheffield end his three-year contract with the Hong Kong government with immediate effect.

"[Sheffield] is not fit to travel back to Hong Kong," Tang read from the note. But he refused to disclose details of his illness or the identity of the doctor.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen agreed to let Sheffield go last Friday.

Some lawmakers remained unconvinced yesterday. But Tang said: "If you have a doctor saying it three times and you still don't believe it, I cannot understand why."

Sin Chung-kai, chairman of the board's remuneration committee, said Sheffield had been exempted from the required three-month notice. No compensation from either side was involved.

Lawmakers yesterday continued to question the arts hub's operation as Sheffield is not the only person to have walked out since the authority was set up in 2009.

Sin revealed that between April 1, 2009 and last Friday, 15 staffers have resigned - including Angus Cheng who quit his executive director's job after just seven days. At present, the authority has 58 staff and has posted a staff turnover of more than 25 per cent in about 1-1/2 years.

Some lawmakers asked if the workload of heading the HK$21.6 billion arts hub was too much to handle, especially for someone new to Hong Kong.

"Do you need to have a deputy CEO, especially for a CEO from overseas?" asked Democrat Lee Wing-tat, vice-chairman of the joint subcommittee monitoring the arts hub's development.

Tang said that the board would look into reviewing the authority's structure. The hub's chief executive heads seven divisions, each led by an executive director, and has an office, led by another director, to support the chief's role.

"There may be a COO [chief operating officer]," Tang said. "We will strive to improve the organisation's structure and will see if some of the CEO's duties can be split up and shared by someone else."
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Old January 25th, 2011, 10:39 AM   #765
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Hunt starts for next chief to head arts hub
22 January 2011
South China Morning Post

The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority yesterday launched a global job hunt for a new chief executive, two weeks after Graham Sheffield abruptly quit for health reasons.

The authority will wait until a new chief executive is appointed before deciding whether to appoint a deputy to share the workload.

A recruitment advert for the chief executive officer of the HK$21.6 billion arts hub was placed in print and online media locally and around the world. It is the same as the ad the authority put up in August 2009.

It says the arts hub is looking for a senior executive of at least 20 years' experience in a "multi-faceted" and "arts and cultural" environment, having done "strategic development, financial planning and business modelling" and liaison with stakeholders from the public and private sectors.

The advert highlights the kind of duties the CEO should expect. Along with "providing leadership" for the strategic development, the chief will have to engage with potential partners in arts and culture. He or she also will oversee sponsorships, publicity and branding.

"We hope to confirm the candidate within six to nine months," said Sin Chung-kai, chairman of the remuneration committee of the board of the cultural district authority. Sin noted that the board confirmed the appointment of Sheffield in March last year and he started work in August.

At a Legco meeting last Friday, the chairman of the authority's board, Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, proposed adding a deputy CEO to the arts hub's senior management team.

Personnel issues have been troubling the arts hub. Ex-CEO Sheffield went back to Britain for Christmas and never returned, walking off on January 7 because of "health reasons" after just five months in the job.

Angus Cheng Siu-chuen, an ex-Disney executive, quit in just seven days in 2009 after realising that he was one of the executive directors instead of the chief.

Since the authority was established in April 2009, 15 staff members have departed - 25 per cent of the current 58-member team.

During the previous headhunting search, 51 candidates competed for the top job, including ex-Swire top executive Stephan Spurr, who was said to be one of the finalists but lost out because he asked for more autonomy to run the cultural district.

The recruitment advert stated that the authority would begin screening applications on February 8. Those who stand a chance will be invited for an interview about four weeks after that.
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Old January 27th, 2011, 06:41 PM   #766
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Constructive criticism --- Rem Koolhaas has a master plan for Asia's cities
21 January 2011
The Wall Street Journal Asia

Hong Kong -- Rem Koolhaas sketches constantly as he talks me through his proposal for Hong Kong's planned US$2.8 billion cultural development.

Mostly he draws grids, in various sizes, but from time to time his pen draws something else: an outline of his plan for the 40-hectare West Kowloon Cultural District, with its signature arched bridge; a giant cuboid letter "M" that seems apropos of nothing in particular; a rough map of Hong Kong's coastline.

At 66 years old, Mr. Koolhaas is among the elite group known as "starchitects": well-known architects such as Frank Gehry and Richard Rogers, whose iconic buildings define the skylines of the world's top cities.

He already has made his mark in Asia, with the Prada Transformer, a shape-changing building that opened in Seoul in 2009, and the mammoth CCTV heaquarters in Beijing that will be completed later this year.

His firm, OMA (the Office for Metropolitan Architecture), has also designed the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, which features a three-story floating podium suspended partway up a 246-meter tower that is scheduled for completion this summer. Earlier this week, OMA also was commissioned to produce a new design strategy for Hong Kong's transit authority that includes building two prototype subway stations, the first of which is expected to open before 2014.

Still, the biggest prize on the table right now is the West Kowloon Cultural District. At an interview in Hong Kong this week, Mr. Koolhaas and David Gianotten -- who runs OMA's Hong Kong office -- were keen to stress their commitment to the region.

"What we want to avoid at any cost is that we would be acting or seen as foreign to this whole thing," says Mr. Koolhaas, referring to the bidding process for the Hong Kong arts and culture project. The OMA office on trendy Wyndham Street, for example, employs 45 people, 60% of whom are from Hong Kong or China. Mr. Koolhaas himself is in the city once a month for a week; Mr. Gianotten has been living in Hong Kong for the past two years.

Though he first visited the Pearl River Delta region around Hong Kong in 1994, he says the development of architecture and planning in Asia has accelerated in the past year or so. In particular, "the education is moving forward in leaps and bounds," he says. "It's difficult to say whether we will see the emergence of an Asian school of design. I would say we already see that Asia equals the Western ability. It's almost more ingenious, more versatile."

The West Kowloon Cultural District, first touted in 1998 by the city's then-Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, has been beset by controversy -- about its budget and scope, and the initial involvement, now withdrawn, of the city's powerful private land developers -- and dogged by personnel problems. Most recently, the project's chief executive, Graham Sheffield, quit this month after only five months on the job, citing health reasons.

OMA's design for the West Kowloon Cultural District features three "urban villages" -- an experimental new museum; a marketplace that mimics Kowloon's street markets with small shops, studios and galleries; and a performance area.

If Mr. Koolhaas's firm is to win the project, it will have to overcome competing challenges from two other firms with strong local connections. Local architect Rocco Yim Sen-kee's Rocco Design Architects has put forward a proposal that highlights elements of traditional Chinese entertainment. Foster + Partners -- the firm of Britain's Sir Norman Foster that was behind both HSBC's Hong Kong headquarters and the city's Chek Lap Kok airport -- won an initial competition for the West Kowloon hub in 2002 before the rules were rewritten in the face of opposition to the involvement of private funding.

All the firms will have had 12 months -- a longer period than usual with such bids -- to make their case before a final decision is made in March. All three bids have been criticized in some quarters, with opponents of OMA's plan focused particularly on the curved bridge that links one end of the peninsula-like expanse back to the mainland. (Mr. Koolhaas says this bridge is necessary to promote the best flow of traffic throughout the expanse.)

For Mr. Koolhaas, a former journalist and author, the project appeals to his philosophical nature and his ideas about architecture and design. As he twists the frame on a pair of collapsible spectacles, he says Hong Kong's government took "a monumental decision" with West Kowloon, an endeavour that on the surface seems to be at odds with the city's commercial spirit.

"If you see the typical Cantonese incredible ingenuity, and how it applies to culture, [the project] is not so much about changing the nature of Hong Kong as about changing the emphasis," he says. "We like the rough and tumble [of Hong Kong's rapid development], but at the same time here and there, we say, 'This is a public building and let's give it space to breathe.'"

A successful project could provide a blueprint for other rapidly developing Asian cities where urban planning is sometimes "brutal," he says. Projecting forward 10 years or so after the West Kowloon project, Mr. Koolhaas says he hopes "Hong Kong has a cultural machine that both directs the local situation and the Asian resurgence, and is also a useful entity for South Korea, the Philippines, for China, Singapore."
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Old January 30th, 2011, 04:02 PM   #767
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Opinion : It is time to put art education into schools' mainstream curriculum
30 January 2011
South China Morning Post

There was an interesting juxtaposition in the letters page between the "culture" pun of Harry's Week cartoon and Ryan Tang's letter ("HK parents stifling their children's creativity and curiosity", January 16.)

There is a glaring connection between the education of our children and the nascent West Kowloon project, which seems to be having trouble finding its feet as an arts venue in a society unfamiliar with the concept. If art and creative thinking is not nurtured in childhood, it is less likely to spontaneously develop later. This is perhaps why, in a city of more than seven million people, less than 6 per cent visited the superb exhibition of French Impressionist art from the Musee d'Orsay in 2005.

In the not so distant past, interest in the arts was a privilege of those with the wealth to choose how their time would be spent, rather than the necessity of devoting all their effort to earning a living. Hence the divide between art and craft. Education was, and still is, a key to earning a select living. But not all knowledge worth having may be directly connected to either "success" or financial reward. It is now accepted that appreciation and enjoyment of the arts is psychologically beneficial, and that enjoyment does not necessarily entail certificates and competition. The arts, well taught, are enlightening, and uplifting. And a foundation on which learning may continue for the rest of our lives.

The cultural district project is an opportunity for social engineering. While all the deliberating over architecture and content of this project continues, development of creativity and art appreciation is something that must be addressed without delay if the cultural district is to be anything more than another Hong Kong property development with tumbleweeds rolling through empty halls labelled as art centres.

Start now. Put art education into schools' mainstream curriculum. Enable regular exhibitions of performance and fine art; not theoretical education from books or virtual media, but face-to-face interaction with the living thing. Children today will be the art lovers of tomorrow. And in their journey, may discover the triumph of value over price.

Susannah R. H. Hirst, The Peak
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Old February 1st, 2011, 04:49 PM   #768
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Hong Kong's finest toys set to take centre stage in museum
24 January 2011
SCMP

From cap guns, to dolls, to matchbox cars - old Hong Kong-made toys are set to be dusted down and put on display in an exhibition that will rekindle fond childhood memories for many and pave the way for the creation of a toy museum in the city.

A group of veteran toy manufacturers, a toy collector and the government-funded Hong Kong Vocational Training Council are in talks to organise a three-month toy exhibition at the council's recently built 7,000 square foot Hong Kong Design Institute Gallery in Tseung Kwan O at the end of the year.

The planned exhibition may mark a significant step forward for the creation of the museum, which the Hong Kong Toy Council and the Toys Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong have lobbied for in the past year as a way to celebrate an industry that took off from scratch in the 1940s and became world-renowned.

Proponents said a toy museum would also serve as a destination for tourists and families, while critics said it was a disgrace that Hong Kong had yet to have a museum dedicated to toys despite its reputation as the world's toy capital.

"Before 1978, all toys were made in Hong Kong," said Yeung Chi-kong, a Hong Kong Toy Council committee member and a toy maker for about 48 years.

"The toys combined successful design, creativity, imagination and culture, and I hope the planned museum will convey this message."

Starting from nothing 60 years ago, Hong Kong's toy industry dislodged Japan in 1971 to become the world's No1 producer as a post-war influx of migrants across the border into the city created a large pool of low-cost labour.

Today Hong Kong-owned toymakers supply nine out of 10 toys sold in the United States. This is despite the fact that rising costs in the city forced toymakers to migrate to the Pearl River Delta starting from 1978 for lower wages and abundant labour supply.

Toys, which brought joy to children in the west, prompted a number of "toycoons".

One of the most prominent examples is Cheung Kong (Holdings)' chairman Li Ka-shing, who made his first fortune out of plastic flowers.

Others are the Ting clan of Kader Holdings, and Qualidux Industrial, which manufactured the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls; Shanghainese David Yeh Chung-woo, who led the takeover of British-based die-cast car maker Matchbox in 1982 and listed the company on the New York stock exchange; and the Chan family of Playmates Toys, which designed and produced another global best-seller - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Qualidux Industrial chairman Bernie Ting Wai-cheung, the second-generation representative of a family business established by his father Dennis Ting Hok-shou in 1964, said many of the company's products were lost throughout the years.

Among those to migrate its toy manufacturing activities from the city across the border in the 1980s, Qualidux has churned out toys varying from the Cabbage Patch Kids to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Star Wars figurines, but kept few of the products of its early days.

Ting was pleasantly surprised, however, to learn that some of the company's prototypes and early toys were included in the collection of toy collector Joel Chung Yin-chai.

Chung, a teacher at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University's Swire School of Design and the largest collector of art work left by late graffiti artist Tsang Tsou-choi - known as the `King of Kowloon' - has amassed about 30,000 toys, industry journals, receipts, advertisements, catalogues and other items related to the history of the toy industry in the city.

He is enthusiastic about showcasing part of the collection at the planned toy exhibition at the Hong Kong Design Institute Gallery.

"The main purpose of the exhibition of course is not just displaying toys in a showcase," Chung said. "It should aim at passing the message of preservation onto the next generation and inspiring their creativity and innovation."

A keen supporter of the proposed toy museum, Chung says he was inspired by Japanese collector Teruhisa Kitahara's passion for toys that led to the establishment of 19 toy museums in Japan. He believes that the establishment of a toy museum in Hong Kong is long overdue and will serve both educational and cultural conservation purposes.

Chung recalled a meeting with the Japanese collector, who pointed out that every item in his own collection was made in Japan.

Hong Kong Design Institute principal Victor Tsang said workshops, design competitions and conferences could follow the planned toy exhibition, which would engaged students, toy manufacturers and designers and other stakeholders.

The Toy Council's Yeung hoped the toy exhibition would arouse the interest of the Hong Kong government as the project would require a grant of land by the government, funding support, and operational and management skills.

He believed a standalone toy museum could be located in the West Kowloon Cultural District.

A Home Affairs Bureau spokesman said an existing exhibition of toys at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum was playing its role "in preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of toys in Hong Kong".

The spokesman would not be drawn into saying whether or not the government would support the idea of a dedicated toy museum, but said the Heritage Museum displayed some 1,600 toys and the history of the industry on a permanent basis.
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Old February 7th, 2011, 05:15 AM   #769
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Foreign hopefuls eye culture job as search continues
The Standard
Monday, February 07, 2011

The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority has received 25 applications for the chief executive post and 13 are from overseas, a source said.

The authority is looking to replace Graham Sheffield who resigned in January after just five months in the job.

A headhunter, who has yet to be appointed for the screening process that begins tomorrow, will help the authority look for at least 10 more potential candidates.

That will bring the list of candidates to about 40. But it will still be fewer than the 51 who had applied when the last search was held.

Also applying for the vacancy is the person who scored just below Sheffield in the previous recruitment. It is an overseas application.

Earlier reports suggested that Stephan Spurr, a former top executive of Swire Properties, made it to the short list in the last exercise. Spurr was reportedly not chosen as he had asked for more autonomy to run the cultural district.

Spurr declined to say if he has applied for the job this time.

A couple of candidates who were not available last year are now and may be interested, the source added.

Sheffield, 58, resigned for health reasons after taking up the job in August.

He was artistic director of London's Barbican Centre when selected last March after a months-long global search by the authority.

His employment package during his three-year contract included an annual salary of about HK$3.5 million.

Critics doubted the reason for Sheffield's abrupt resignation, and some were convinced that it was government bureaucracy that triggered his departure.

The new chief executive will be announced after the summer as it takes six to nine months to complete the recruitment exercise. The winning candidate may need a few months to settle their affairs before coming to Hong Kong, if they are from overseas.

Despite Sheffield's reason for resigning, the authority does not intend to require shortlisted candidates to undergo medical checkups.

What happened to Sheffield was unexpected and when he was appointed, the feedback was positive, the source said.

"It was a right decision to choose him," the source said.

It is understood the board has also given the green light for a chief operating officer or a deputy to minimize the workload of the chief executive.

The first phase of the HK$21.6 billion project is due to open in 2015.
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Old February 10th, 2011, 04:09 PM   #770
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Fund steers arts groups towards private sponsors
10 February 2011
SCMP

The government will launch a matching fund for arts projects in April aimed at encouraging non-profit arts groups to actively engage the private sector for sponsorship.

The HK$30 million-a-year fund will be available for non-profit arts programmes dedicated to arts development, event promotions and public education, according to an internal document seen by the South China Morning Post.

Some of the money is to benefit arts groups and one-off arts projects not covered by existing funding schemes under various government departments.

And unlike the traditional funding schemes in which the government provides direct subsidies to the arts groups, this one will require the applicant to first secure business sponsorship - if their operating budget exceeds HK$2 million. The new fund will then match the sponsorship dollar for dollar. The government will match donations and income in cash but not sponsorships in kind.

Projects with a smaller budget can apply for either direct subsidies or matching grants.

Film and theatre veteran Ko Chi-sum, chief executive of the privately run Spring-Time Stage, said the threshold of HK$2 million in order to get matching funding was set too high.

"Perhaps the officials have no idea how hard it is to secure corporate sponsorship in cash," Ko said. "You consider yourself lucky if you can raise HK$300,000 in cash. You can't hope to get that much commercial sponsorship in cash, unless you are organising a Faye Wong or Eason Chan Yik-shun concert.

"People may just end up going for smaller events or programmes as they can get direct subsidies for projects under HK$2 million."

The yearly HK$30 million will come from investment returns on HK$3 billion in seed money the government injected into the Arts and Sports Development Fund in last year's budget, the internal document shows.

The government has committed to spend more than HK$2.8 billion on arts and cultural activities this year as the development of the West Kowloon Cultural District picks up speed.

At present, the Home Affairs Bureau, the Arts Development Council and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department share responsibility for funding the development of culture and the arts in Hong Kong. The government now wants to explore ways to fund the arts differently.

The scheme will be overseen by a subcommittee and a panel of experts who are yet to be appointed.

The government hopes the scheme can serve as a springboard to help previously unfunded arts groups. Under the proposal, a group would be funded for two to four years and recipients might receive more money than they had raised from corporate sponsors.

Apart from arts groups, individual artists and companies organising non-profit arts events could also apply for money under the scheme.

People who attended consultation sessions on the plan said they were told applicants for the new fund "should draft their applications like business proposals".

It is a sign the authorities are keen to nudge the arts groups to get the private sector involved, rather than rely purely on the government for money.

Art critic Oscar Ho Hing-kay was was unconvinced by the plan.

"This is just more money managed by a new committee. I do not see a new vision here," he said. "The government should closely study the Hong Kong arts and cultural sectors before coming up with these funding ideas."

Arts practitioners also took aim at the Advisory Committee for Arts Development, which will oversee the new scheme. Some questioned the representativeness of the 12-member committee, whose members include a politician, businessmen and finance professionals.

Despite his reservations, Ko Chi-sum, the Spring-Time Stage chief, largely welcomed the new initiative. He said it was natural to see criticism from those already receiving government funding, as they are not eligible for the scheme.

He believes the scheme could help fledgling artists to get a start.

"At the moment, it is difficult for new players to enter the game. On the other hand, we all agree we need to cultivate more young talent and budding artists," Ko said.

Asked about the scheme, the Home Affairs Bureau said the government had offered dollar-for-dollar matching grants before, but this scheme would be larger.

The bureau said details had still to be finalised.
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Old February 16th, 2011, 11:45 AM   #771
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West Kowloon arts hub to get a flying start
16 February 2011
SCMP

Art lovers will not have to wait until 2016 to experience cultural events in the West Kowloon Cultural District as a "nomadic" museum and outdoor events will be coming to town next year.

Having assumed his position as executive director of the M+ museum and interactive arts facility about a month ago, Lars Nittve already has a plan to get the museum up and running by the end of this year, before the building is erected.

"We are creating a `nomadic' M+, an M+ without a permanent building," Nittve said.

Plans for an interim M+ at Oil Street had been proposed, but now M+ will grow in different parts of Hong Kong to familiarise the public with the concept of the museum.

Nittve, who was the first director of London's Tate Modern, detailed his master plan when he met the media for the first time since he came on board.

Nittve's idea is to have a "base camp" as a connecting point for the public to obtain information, while a series of pre-opening programmes, such as exhibitions featuring different aspects of visual culture from fine art to design and architecture, as well as outdoor film screenings, are staged in various parts of the town.

The hub's performing arts executive director Louis Yu Kwok-lit said that events such as live music would also be staged around the end of this year, but the format was yet to be decided.

The next thing to do, Nittve said, would be to meet stakeholders to develop a vision for the museum and define the consequences, such as staffing.

Building an audience and the museum's capacity would also be on the agenda, he said.

M+ would have a strong focus on arts education, Nittve said. It would develop educational programmes and work closely with schools. And he was confident that M+ would become a place popular among young people.

"Curating shows is not difficult, but making a museum welcoming is tricky," he said, referencing his experience with Tate Modern, which has become a popular meeting spot for young people.

"Before Tate Modern was built, those going to the old Tate were well-educated, middle-class people. But Tate Modern does not feel like a museum. It is like a natural extension of the street."

Nittve said he was not worried about having to delay purchases of art for M+ as the museum's governance and the ownership of the collection must be worked out before starting to build it.

"I'm not too worried about the collection, but it needs to be very well structured and it depends on the vision [for the museum]," he said.

According to government papers in 2008, M+ will have an initial capital of HK$1 billion (in 2006 prices) to build the collection and get the museum up and running.

Nittve said he had been enjoying Hong Kong, although was discharged from hospital yesterday due to a foot injury. He had been actively engaging with the local arts and culture sector and although the pressure was there, it was understandable and he did not have a problem with it.

He said he had not spoken to former chief executive Graham Sheffield, who left abruptly at the beginning of this year for "health reasons".

"I know there is a lot of expectation and lack of trust, so there is a lot of work for me and my team to do," Nittve said.

"The expectations [from the public] should be very high because this is a very important task, a very important project. M+ will be one of the most important museums in the world in the future."
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Old March 2nd, 2011, 02:54 PM   #772
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Green park music to public's ears
The Standard
Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Property development in the West Kowloon Cultural District should be kept to an absolute minimum and commercial activities could be put underground, an activists' group says.

According to a poll commissioned by Hong Kong Alternatives, 58 percent of the 1,011 respondents said setting aside 60 percent of the land for residential and commercial buildings is too much.

The group, which was set up in 2006 to push for a plan that is in the best interests of the public, appealed to the government to reconsider the project and turn the site into a cultural green park.

The poll found that 84 percent are opposed to reserving 20 percent of land in the cultural district for auction to property developers to build luxury flats.

And 59 percent - answering another question - believe such developments should be kept at zero with the whole site being turned into a green park.

The majority also felt the government should use its financial reserves to subsidize the development rather than depend on the commercial sector.

The survey was conducted between January 26 and February 8 by the University of Hong Kong's Public Opinion Programme.

HKU department of architecture associate professor Cheung Kwok-pun, a member of Hong Kong Alternatives, said the government could build a 300,000-square-meter underground multifunction shopping mall instead. A 1.4-kilometer automatic walkway would move people from Central to West Kowloon in two minutes.

This would be a "Green-Gold Alternative Development" to allow maximum green above ground with commercial elements underground, Cheung said.

"The underground area could have a value of HK$30,000 to HK$50,000 per square foot, or a total value in excess of HK$100 billion," he added.

The survey did not touch on three proposed designs for the West Kowloon Cultural District. It was announced last week that Norman Foster's design, involving a huge green park, was the most popular option from among 7,310 questionnaires returned.

Leading pollster Robert Chung Ting-yiu, who carried out the survey, said something is wrong in the government's consultation process.

"None of the three plans touch on the green issue. We have no doubt of the government's sincerity but it is not good enough," Chung said.
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Old March 4th, 2011, 08:10 AM   #773
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Dutch architect defends vision for cultural hub
Decision due today on designer

4 March 2011
South China Morning Post

With the decision on a designer due today, renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas made a last-ditch effort to defend his plan for the city's arts hub, which trailed in a public poll released last week.

"We really believe sincerely that we have the most to offer and also the best combination of local and international networks to create the richest possible condition [for the art hub]," said Koolhaas, who flew into Hong Kong as the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority prepared to announce today which of three finalists was the winner.

"We didn't pay lip service to [the public's] score. We were very explicit in explaining the ambitions to all," he added. Koolhaas is up against Briton Norman Foster and local architect Rocco Yim Sen-kee.

Last Friday, the authority released results of its public poll - which showed the big city-park scheme by Foster receiving the highest score by a slim margin. The poll had more than 7,000 responses, but 600 of those, all in favour of Foster, were suspiciously similar. Even with those responses removed from the tally, however, Foster's plan was narrowly the winner, the poll's analyst said.

In some categories, such as the quality of open space and meeting the needs of different users, Foster's average score was only 0.01 higher than Rocco Yim and 0.04 over the Dutch team.

The authority has not disclosed how much weight it will give to the poll in making its final selection.

Tanya Chan, the lawmaker monitoring the HK$21.6 billion arts hub project, said Foster, who designed the HSBC headquarters skyscraper, was popular in the city and knew that Hongkongers had longed for a large urban park.

Lead architect on the Koolhaas design, David Gianotten, said: "For us, it's clear that the public vote is important and it's part of the whole decision-making process. But it's not the only ingredient, as there are people who work and live in this place who are not represented as the general public but who feel inspired by our design.

"We took the risk by not just simply following the government's brief but also proposing change," Gianotten added. "We tried to shift some attention from making beautiful, iconic buildings to simply giving space for people to do creative things and to produce art works.

"We are extremely confident that there is strong support for our plan."

Yim could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The Koolhaas team's design, featuring a suspension bridge to solve congestion and setting aside part of the capital cost for future cultural programmes, scored highest in the public poll in representing local culture. It has also won support from professionals, academics and concern groups, including the Hong Kong Institute of Urban Design.

Yim's design, featuring green terrain and interconnected open space, has gained support from the Art Development Council. Foster's plan offers the most flexibility and would be easiest to merge with elements of the other two designs.

The authority's selection panel, comprising 10 board members, will select a master plan from the three. Desirable features of the other two designs will be incorporated into the selected plan.

The panel will score the designs according to six selection criteria: fulfilment of key planning and development requirements; meeting design principles; meeting community aspirations; technical feasibility; flexibility in land use, design and phasing; and financial robustness. But it is unknown how the criteria will be weighted.

A leading pollster at the University of Hong Kong criticised the public poll, questioning how random the sample was because the pool of interviewees could have consisted of children mobilised to visit arts exhibitions and people who sent in questionnaires on their own.

"If over half of the respondents of a poll comprise young people under 30, the poll could hardly be representative of the Hong Kong population, no matter how the subjects were sampled," said Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu, director of the university's public opinion programme.

The authority said it could not confirm how many of the respondents were students but it said more than half of the questionnaires were returned by respondents aged 30 or below. An announcement made by the authority last year said it had mobilised 3,800 students from 75 schools to visit the exhibitions.
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Old March 4th, 2011, 08:35 AM   #774
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Fingers crossed... I want no OMA
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Old March 4th, 2011, 12:59 PM   #775
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Foster's masterplan won
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Old March 4th, 2011, 03:38 PM   #776
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MARCH 4, 2011, 7:40 PM HKT
Norman Foster to Design Kowloon Cultural District


By Cathy Yan

HONG KONG–The board of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority selected Norman Foster’s “City Park” design for the future 21.6 billion Hong Kong dollar (US$2.8 billion) arts hub, making a progress on a project that has been marred by delays and top-level resignations since it was proposed in 1998.

The other two proposed plans, one by Hong Kong firm Rocco Design Architects Ltd. and the other by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, led by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, may also be integrated into the final design. The West Kowloon Cultural District will sit on 40 hectares of waterfront with views of downtown Hong Kong.

The design by Mr. Foster’s British firm Foster + Partners includes a 19-hectare waterfront park and cultural institutions toward the north of the green space. It proposes extensive arts-education facilities scattered east to west, as well as the government’s prerequisite theaters and the contemporary-art museum M+. It will also include commercial areas for shops, restaurants, offices and hotels. An over-arching carbon-neutral goal includes plans for waste recycling and solar and wind power.

A design competition for the West Kowloon Cultural District was launched in April 2001. Initially, the government accepted a large canopy design, also by Norman Foster, but scrapped the design in 2005 after intense public criticism. The project then went through two public consultations, in 2009 and 2010.

On Friday, Henry Tang, Hong Kong’s chief secretary and chairman of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, announced the winning design at a news conference while flanked by fellow board members, including chairman of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ronald Arculli, who also headed the selection panel that recommended the design to the board.

Not everyone was happy with the decision. “They’ve gone for the safest solution,” says Paul Zimmerman, chief executive of the nonprofit Designing Hong Kong. He said he’s also afraid that the waterfront park, which is very simple compared with the other two proposals, will be underused. “It’s just a pity that they cannot take more challenging proposals such as Rocco or Koolhaas,” he says.

The Foster design has a “relatively simple message,” says Daniel Chua, the head of the School of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong. “They sold a very attractive idea, a park,” he says. “But the thing to understand is that it’s a blueprint. We can’t make the mistake of thinking that it will actually look like that.

Foster + Partners has a long history with Hong Kong, having previously designed the HSBC headquarters and the Chek Lap Kok airport. Its “City Park” plan narrowly received the highest score in a public poll, which was published before the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority board made its decision.

Mr. Tang listed seven main reasons behind their pick, including the design’s emphasis on arts education, its synergy of spaces and its flexibility that will allow swapping of sites as construction takes place over a planned six years. He promised that a more detailed development plan, which may include portions of the Koolhaas and Rocco designs, will undergo a public consultation before it is confirmed.

The long-anticipated project has been in development since 1998, when then-Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa proposed the establishment of a West Kowloon cultural district in his policy address.

“The public message has been loud and clear,” said Mr. Tang after he announced their pick. “Move on, get the job done.”

In January, Graham Sheffield, chief executive of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, resigned citing health reasons. A month later, on Feb. 25, the British Council appointed Mr. Sheffield as its new director for the arts, stoking suspicions regarding his departure from Hong Kong. Mr. Tang has said that the government will study whether Mr. Sheffield has breached his contract.

On Friday, Mr. Tang confirmed that the board has sent questions to Mr. Sheffield and have received some of the answers, but evaded further questions concerning how the project will proceed without a chief executive. The board is still looking for a replacement for Mr. Sheffield.

Mr. Sheffield’s departure follows the June 2009 resignation of the Authority’s executive director, Angus Cheng, who cited “personal reasons” in a statement released at the time.

http://blogs.wsj.com/hong-kong/2011/...t/?mod=rss_hk#
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Old March 4th, 2011, 04:35 PM   #777
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachmaninov View Post
Fingers crossed... I want no OMA
why not?
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Old March 4th, 2011, 07:14 PM   #778
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Quote:
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why not?
Their masterplan chose to build parks in between clusters, thereby segregating several important cultural venues. Also includes a horrible bridge that comes in from nowhere. Anyway...
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Old March 4th, 2011, 07:16 PM   #779
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaitak747 View Post







Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaitak747 View Post





Here are quotes from another thread. This is the masterplan that won.
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Old March 5th, 2011, 04:44 AM   #780
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Hey! Let's rename Hong Kong to Foster City. Might as well.
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