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Old March 26th, 2011, 07:55 AM   #801
Rachmaninov
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Time to foster art for art's sake
The Standard
Monday, March 21, 2011

The results are out. Foster and Partners has officially won the commission to come up with the master plan for the West Kowloon Cultural District.

A long and difficult journey has just begun - both for the architects and residents of the city.

The whole hub, from the conceptual phase, to the open competition for individual spaces, to the actual construction of the buildings will probably take a whole decade to come to fruition.

But now seems a good time for all of us to put aside our emotions and start the real planning of the software, and not just the hardware, of the West Kowloon Cultural District.

Simply focusing on the latter demonstrates a myopic vision, one that the government is often accused of having.

Although the past 10 years have seen a steady increase in the number of art lovers, it still remains a tightly knit circle of connoisseurs while the majority of locals could at best be described as passive art admirers.

It is a common perception that art is still the preserve of auction houses and Western galleries.

A case in point is the overwhelming majority of participants at Art HK and other similar biennials of strictly Western origin.

To be able to play host to a true arts hub, Hong Kong needs a strong and knowledgeable local community well versed in the arts.

The government should consider supporting and channeling funds into educational and sponsorship programs that reach out to emerging talents and grassroot projects.

Earmarking resources to promote culture should just not be about building an icon or creating a cathedral for art.

Why? Because the glue that binds the scheme together is not the architecture, but artists and the audience.

If American architect Louis Sullivan was alive, I am sure he would agree with us when we say: Form follows function and function follows demand. Hong Kong Art Vanguard Association members - architect Nicholas Ho and art historian Stephanie Poon - don't always see eye to eye.
That is a good point, but I am hopeful of the art future of Hong Kong, thanks to the recent spike in artistic activity. I have witnessed a steady change towards the better in terms of the quality and quantity of events taking place, and I believe Hong Kong's artistic population is expanding quite rapidly. One problem at this moment is that artists in Hong Kong are quite scattered and unorganised. I'm hoping that this cultural district is going to be effective in letting artists and art-lovers converge.
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Old March 26th, 2011, 08:52 AM   #802
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I like the 2nd place winner more than the canopy one.
I agree with you..
I like the 2nd place winner more..
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Old March 26th, 2011, 10:14 AM   #803
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I agree with you..
I like the 2nd place winner more..
... are you talking about the enormously outdated pre-2005 designs?
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Old March 28th, 2011, 06:05 PM   #804
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Foster eyes zero emissions for West Kowloon
28 March 2011
SCMP

Norman Foster wants to turn West Kowloon into Hong Kong's first zero carbon-emission district.

The renowned British architect and his team think people tend to focus on the large urban park in their design. But their zero-emission ambition is just as "green," even if it may take up to 25 years to achieve.

To achieve that goal, the team will take into account emissions generated from buildings only rather than from other sources in the district.

"There's no one magic bullet," Colin Ward, one of the partners at Foster + Partners, said.

The hub's park will not be used as the only tool to offset carbon emissions as the hub will also target the district's waste problem by collecting the food waste generated daily in its neighbourhood and turn this into biogas for its power system.

Working with this architectural firm is a team of specialists from Arup, a global engineering firm with experience in zero- or low-carbon projects, including a new phase currently under planning at Hong Kong's Science Park and the BedZED residential project in Beddington, south London. The Foster firm also designed the zero-carbon city in Masdar, Abu Dhabi.

"We are not suggesting a fantasy or a mediocre design," said Raymond Yau, a director of Arup. "The arts hub still needs to be powered by the local electricity grid but we will offset by helping the city to solve part of its food-waste problem."

To arrive at the "zero" figure, will mean careful planning and design of the whole site and its buildings; a creative recycling of food waste, and increasing use of wind and solar energy. More importantly, it will mean bringing about behavioural change among hub users.

Yau added that the goal could be achieved much earlier - by 2025 (see graphic) - if the energy centre and the district cooling system could operate at an earlier stage.

The project, if realised, would set an example for the region. But if it fails, it could become an obstacle for other low-carbon projects in the pipeline. Ward said the plan aimed to cut Hong Kong's carbon emission by 135,000 tonnes a year, the equivalent of taking 23,400 cars off the road. Hong Kong generates 3,280 tonnes of food waste a day, accounting for 44 per cent of waste dumped in landfills.

"We need a strong policy in place to ensure a sufficient amount of food waste and an efficient operation of the energy centre, if you don't want to see it becoming a refuse-collection point," Yau warned.

The team follows the zero-carbon definition currently adopted by the UK government: using on-site renewable energy to offset electricity taken from the local power grid and allowing some degree of off-site emission mitigations, such as reducing methane gas in landfills in the case of the arts hub.

"It's a universally accepted definition," he said, adding that UK projects also target buildings' emissions rather than emissions generated by external transportation, as this is an uncontrollable factor.

Whether the plan will succeed hinges on many factors: "Design is just the first step. It will depend on how the authority decides on the phasing of the hub. Public education and behavioural change will also take time," he said.

Foster's background in designing a zero-carbon city, dubbed a green utopia, in the deserts of Abu Dhabi may not be seen as a credit, however. The project was described as a mirage after its scale and budget were cut. The original plan included extensive use of a transport system in which cars were banned and people transported in driverless pods. .

"There are reasons for its failure," said the president of the Hong Kong Green Building Council Andrew Chan Ka-ching. "The project of creating a city in a desert is very artificial to begin with. It is too ambitious."

Chan said that the key was to ensure the idea was implemented consistently and sustained in the long run, a role in which the arts hub authority will play an important part. For example, a clear set of design guidelines must be ready for buildings when sites are sold for development. "It's not beyond our reach," Chan said.
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Old March 30th, 2011, 11:35 AM   #805
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`Cheated' lawmakers want arts answers
The Standard
Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Legislators want former West Kowloon Cultural District Authority chief executive Graham Sheffield to return from Britain to explain his resignation.

Lawmakers attending a panel meeting on home affairs yesterday said the government should go after Sheffield since they "felt cheated."

Sheffield, 58, started work in August as authority chief executive but resigned in January citing ill health.

He was appointed new director for the arts at the British Council in London late last month and will take up his new post in early May.

Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Wing-tat said: "He should return to Hong Kong and explain everything. I doubt his integrity since he was job-hunting when he was extremely unwell."

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong lawmaker Chan Kam-lam said the resignation of Sheffield has damaged the authority's reputation.

Authority remuneration committee chairman Sin Chung-kai said he "felt cheated."

Sin added: "We always hope Sheffield can return to Hong Kong and explain to the public. His resignation has affected morale but our team will continue to work hard on the project."

The authority may consider legal action if it finds new evidence concerning Sheffield's conduct, he said.

But Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs Salina Yan Mei-mei believes the authority made "a suitable decision" when it accepted the resignation.
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Old April 7th, 2011, 05:13 AM   #806
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Warning sounds on cultural costs
The Standard
Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A senior West Kowloon Cultural District Authority member says the full project will cost much more than the HK$21.6 billion already approved.

But despite calls from several legislators for the authority to come clean on the total budget, the authority's development committee chairman, Ronald Arculli, said it is difficult to calculate as it will take up to 15 years to complete the project.

"With the rising construction costs in recent years, the approved HK$21.6 billion will not be enough for the 17 buildings ... if construction starts now," Arculli said yesterday. "But the project is still in the early stage, and we still need to carry out stage three public consultation on the detailed development plan of the chosen project."

Arculli said the authority will have to bring the matter to the Legislative Council for further discussion later on. "I hope people can be more patient and wait until the development plan is out and approved by the Town Planning Board."

Arculli said it will take 10 to 15 years to complete the project. "It is therefore hard to arrive at a more specific figure for the entire project now, as social expectations vary as time goes on. We need to be cautious when using public resources."

Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Wing-tat said former permanent secretary for home affairs Carrie Yau Tsang Ka-lai had assured legislators in 2008 they would not be asked to dole out more money.

"Can the authority assure us it will not seek additional funding in the coming five to 15 years?" Lee asked. "I believe the cost of such a huge project will change as time goes by. Will the authority come up with the latest financial assessment?"

Another Democrat, Emily Lau Wai-hing, said with construction costs continually rising, the authority should constantly update the public on the expected budget. "The authority should be more transparent and announce the expected budget at different stages of construction," Lau said.

Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan Suk-chong also joined in the call for a full budget disclosure.

Legco approved HK$21.6 billion in July 2008 for the construction of 17 buildings.

Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen said recently the selection panel has gone for architect Norman Foster's "City Park" master plan, which will use 19 of the 40 hectares of the cultural district, and will require the planting of 5,000 trees.

The third public consultation will be conducted this summer on a detailed development plan, which will be submitted to the Town Planning Board later this year, with the first phase of the cultural district expected to be completed in 2015.
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Old April 12th, 2011, 05:40 PM   #807
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Old April 14th, 2011, 07:51 PM   #808
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Former cultural desert starts to bloom
After decades of being a place where finance was prized more highly than artistic talent, the city is making up for lost time
11 April 2011
South China Morning Post

It speaks volumes that until little more than a decade ago Hong Kong had no full-time art schools. No Parsons, no St Martin's, no Chicago Institute of Art. It was symptomatic of the cultural void that infamously plagued the city until very recently, according to Cissy Pao Watari, chairman of the board of governors at the Hong Kong Arts Centre (HKAC). "You need various things, different museums to accommodate different styles and periods, and you need institutions dedicated to inspiring creative people," she says.

But now, Hong Kong Art School, an offshoot of the non-profit HKAC, is an integral part of the city's art community. It offers diplomas, bachelor's and master's programmes to more than 600 students, half of whom are full-time.

Chairman Sebastian Law is full of enthusiasm about building on the encouraging response to a Hong Kong-based tertiary art programme. Now with an additional campus in Shau Kei Wan, the school aims to have a campus-style arrangement with numerous hubs spread throughout the city. And, Law says, as Hong Kong's appreciation of art grows - and not just as an investment vehicle - the chance that this will happen is increasingly likely.

"I strongly believe that Hong Kong is in a superb position," he says. "It's not like the old days. Our culture is different now - it's a boom. Art culture is no longer limited to painting and sculpture. The application of an art education now is so wide - everything from furniture design to 3-D art and animation. It's like a renaissance."

Law is passionate about the possibilities for young artists to capitalise on the emerging technologies that will form the basis of new media. "Art education can be a lot wider than people think," he says. "It's not just a way to become a painter or a sculptor. There is industrial design, photography, 3-D work, TV and graphics. An art education establishes the foundation for artists to move into other spheres. It's our responsibility to inspire students and make them aware of opportunities. We need to give our artists the confidence to express their creativity in whatever format."

The art school, he says, is ideally suited to provide the foundations that students need to express their creativity with technical proficiency while developing the correct mindset to be an artist.

"I believe you need a good foundation to be a good artist," Law says. "We focus on four areas. You need to have sound technical skills and design ability, which are things that we spend a lot of time developing. But you must also have a social conscience and self-discipline. These elements, together with good-quality teachers, a good curriculum and a good, stimulating learning environment, can set a good foundation for artists."

Pao believes part of Hong Kong's problem in the past was that it developed as a city of immigrants, where making sense of the world and having enough money to put food on the table were more immediate concerns than the appreciation of art.

"We don't have a history or heritage of art," she says. "But we have gone way beyond that and, while I think people should have more passion for art, a lot of my friends have passion and are very supportive."

The promise that the art school brings is its grass-roots approach to turning Hong Kong around and giving it a sense of purpose and creativity. Artists, Pao says, should come back to Hong Kong after an overseas education - and when they do, it will remove some of the stigma of being an artist that Hong Kong has developed.

"Right now, people think of artists as living on the fringe, not like they have a real profession," she says. "It's important to have that recognition. I think the whole environment, what comes after the education, is what makes the art school tick. A lot of very good artists, graduates of art schools overseas, don't want to come back here, but I think all that will change. They have to know that Hong Kong and the mainland have a lot of opportunities."

Pao and Law are positive about what the government is trying to achieve with the West Kowloon Cultural District. It is a force for good, they argue, if slightly ambitious in its attempts to build a complete, functioning cultural area. What will make the difference, they hope, is their plan to open a campus of the art school on the site.

"We'd like to expand to West Kowloon," Pao says. "This is how we connect - it should be connected to existing hubs. The key to West Kowloon is to have a school and take students there."
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Old May 20th, 2011, 05:03 AM   #809
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Oz arts exec tipped for top cultural role
The Standard
Friday, May 20, 2011

Australian arts administrator Michael Lynch is strongly tipped to be the next chief executive of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation director and former chief executive of London's Southbank Centre and the Sydney Opera House is the best among the some 40 candidates to lead the new multibillion-dollar culture hub, a source said.

His appointment will likely be announced soon.

The controversial resignation of previous chief executive Graham Sheffield in January prompted a renewed global job hunt by the authority.

The screening of candidates has now been completed after applications closed in February.

An authority spokesman said: "The recruitment exercise has made good progress and an announcement is expected to be made later this month."

The new director will be paid about HK$5 million a year, HK$1.25 million more than Sheffield who resigned abruptly on health grounds.

He later revealed he had been headhunted for a senior job with the British Council.

The culture hub chief may be assigned a deputy or a chief operating officer to ease job pressures, as suggested earlier by the authority board.

Lynch, along with about 10 top administrators in the global arts scene, will next month attend a forum organized jointly by the authority and the Hong Kong Arts Administrators' Association.

The three-day forum on the design and management of the 15 performance venues at the West Kowloon arts hub will see them hold talks themed as "What makes an art venue work."

The mega-project is expected to be constructed and launched in phases, with the first phase to open in 2015.

Lynch, an influential player in public broadcasting in Australia, was one of the 51 candidates in the previous recruitment exercise in 2009.

He has been involved with the arts community as well as the film industry for over three decades, and was appointed ABC director for a five-year term in March 2009.

From 2002 until 2009 Lynch was chief executive of London's Southbank Centre, where he was responsible for the transformation of the area's cultural precinct.

He has also had a long career in arts administration in Australia, as chief executive of the Sydney Opera House from 1998 to 2002, and general manager of the Australia Council from 1994 to 1998.

Earlier, he was a casting director with his own agency Forcast, and an agent for the performing arts, film and television. He began his career at the Australia Council for the Arts in 1973 and was manager of the Nimrod Theatre and administrator of the Australian National Playwrights Conference.

In 2001 he was awarded the Order of Australia in Queen Elizabeth's Birthday Honors for services to arts administration.

And in 2008 he was named a Commander of the British Empire for services to the arts in Britain.
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Old May 26th, 2011, 12:25 PM   #810
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Arts hub gives priority to small performing venues
17 May 2011
South China Morning Post

The performing arts director of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority told lawmakers yesterday that the authority was giving priority to building small and medium-sized performing venues in the arts hub. Louis Yu said his team was working with Norman Foster, the architect designing the arts hub layout, to locate spots within the 42-hectare site that are ready for construction. The four black-box theatres would take three to four years to complete. Yu also said four venues, including a theatre, a concert hall and a Cantonese Opera centre, would come with art education facilities.
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Old May 30th, 2011, 05:50 AM   #811
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Royal academy chief hints at arts hub link
25 May 2011
SCMP

The world renowned Royal Academy of Arts has set its sights on Hong Kong and West Kowloon as part of its planned expansion in Asia and the Middle East.

Although it is still an empty piece of land, the site of the future arts hub - along with government museums - is under consideration by the privately funded institution as a location for its first touring exhibition next year.

Future collaboration is also on the cards. Academy chief executive Charles Saumarez Smith says he will take the opportunity during a visit to Hong Kong this week to get to know arts leaders and "get a feel as how we might operate, and if there are opportunities in which we could work together".

But before establishing any permanent fixture, the academy will bring a travelling selling exhibition to Asia for the first time in the autumn of next year, following a model based on the academy's annual Summer Exhibition that has run since 1769.

Finding a suitable site will be part of Saumarez Smith's mission for his visit to Hong Kong during which he will also attend a talk by Chinese artist Zhang Huan at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on Saturday during the ART HK fair.

He said Swire buildings that had been used for exhibitions in the past were a possibility for the exhibition, while West Kowloon "seems to be imaginable", but no decisions had been made. Founded in 1768 by 34 artists and architects, the Royal Academy of Arts has become one of London's most important places to showcase art as well as a leading educational institution featuring a highly selective postgraduate programme admitting only 20 students a year.

Saumarez Smith said several cities, including Hong Kong, had shown interest in replicating the model of an academy led by artists, and the academy had been exploring international partnerships.

"I'm not going to pretend that we are the only people interested in this idea of a slightly global operation," he said. "There are cities besides Hong Kong - mainly in the Middle East - which have expressed an interest in thinking through the issue as to how an institution like ours could work in other parts of the world."

He did not say whether an overseas arm of the academy could be established in Hong Kong, but said it was "not unimaginable" that the development of West Kowloon would open the doors to collaboration.

Last year, the Savannah College of Art and Design opened its first Asian branch in Hong Kong at the historic North Kowloon Magistracy building.

Art critic and programme director of Chinese University's MA in cultural management Oscar Ho said that with the poor economies and severe funding cuts in the US and Europe, overseas institutions expanding in Asia was a common trend.

Even though Hong Kong was a small market, locating here could help the institutions open up a regional market and develop networks and projects on the mainland.

Saumarez Smith said the travelling exhibition was seen as a way of establishing international links.

"As the art world becomes more international and more globalised, [the academy] is certainly taking the view supported by other academicians that it's in our interest to work in an appropriate way internationally," he said.

It is understood that the exhibition will feature more than 100 works, half of them by artists represented by the Academy and the others from leading Asian artists.

The exhibition will begin in Singapore, then tour Hong Kong, Tokyo and either Taiwan or South Korea.

Proceeds of the sales will go towards the costs of the postgraduate students' studies.

A spokesman for the Leisure and Cultural Services department said it had started a dialogue with an agent working with the Royal Academy of Arts to explore opportunities for organising a major exhibition in Asia.
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Old May 31st, 2011, 10:36 AM   #812
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Arts hub: no time to lose
Michael Lynch should be able to kick-start the West Kowloon Cultural District project, but will he really have the desired autonomy?
28 May 2011
South China Morning Post

Veteran arts administrator Michael Lynch has just stepped into a job that is as formidable and ambitious as the HK$21 billion project of which he is now in charge.

The West Kowloon Cultural District has never just been about the 42 hectares of land on which 15 performing arts venues, a large piazza, a visual-arts museum and an exhibition centre will be built. It is also about giving the city the much needed space to develop its arts and culture, elevating local artistic standards to a world-class level, building links and partnerships with the existing cultural facilities and integrating the new district with its neighbourhoods and the rest of Hong Kong.

As its chief executive, the 60-year-old Australian will not only have to deal with artists but also builders, politicians and government officials from an array of departments.

The position has so far proved to be a poisoned chalice: Angus Cheng Siu-chuen left the job after just a week in 2009 and Graham Sheffield, former artistic director of the Barbican Centre in London, resigned from the post in January after five months, citing health reasons.

However, many believe that Lynch, with his extensive experience and international background, will be able to take the challenges in his stride.

The former head of the Sydney Opera House and the Southbank Centre in London has arrived at a crucial phase in the project: the conceptual plan for the West Kowloon Cultural District proposed by British architect Norman Foster was approved by the government in March and should be endorsed by the Town Planning Board at the end of this year at the earliest. The next step is to turn concepts into reality.

"Lynch will be a leader not just of West Kowloon but all its surrounding districts," says one observer who is close to the project. "There are many technical issues that need to be ironed out and there is an urgent need for the WKCD to come up with a construction programme or infrastructural blueprint for the plan. For instance, the Foster plan proposes underground traffic. How will that be connected with the existing local traffic in the area?"

Besides traffic, the arts district authority will have to figure out how to integrate the cultural hub and the nearby Hong Kong-Guangzhou high-speed railway. Sorting out these issues will be laborious and time-consuming.

And it will involve a slew of government departments, including the Town Planning Board, Environmental Protection Department, Transport Department, Lands Department, Home Affairs Bureau and district councils. All the while, the WKCD Authority must keep a close eye on its budget to ensure that it does not overspend.

The project needs to start its construction phase very soon if it is to meet the scheduled completion of its first phase around 2015. That means building 12 performing arts venues and the M+ art museum.

But the authority made some progress while searching for Sheffield's replacement.

On Wednesday, Lars Nittve, executive director of the M+, told a group of international art dealers and reporters in town for the Hong Kong International Art Fair that "the momentum is already there". He said he hoped the designer for M+ would be identified, through an international competition, by next April and the architect by next summer.

"We are now working on the policy of collection, as everything is [built] from inside out," he said, adding that HK$1 billion was earmarked for acquisition. "In 10 years' time, the collection should reflect that you are here in Hong Kong, the Pearl River Delta, China, Southeast Asia and the rest of Asia."

M+ aimed to display local artwork, Nittve said, "but more importantly to bring great art here from around the world".

Louis Yu Kwok-lit, the executive director for performing arts, is looking at the feasibility of major local performing arts companies taking up residence in some of the new venues.

It will be Lynch's job to get his team of eight senior executives together and ensure everyone is working towards the same vision. He will need to get board members in agreement to put his administrative decisions in effect. The question of autonomy - whether WKCD will be free to make decisions about art without government interference - will need to be addressed, discussed and confirmed.

Most of all, Lynch has to learn about this city - fast. Despite his glowing résumé and extensive experience, Hong Kong is no London or Sydney. He will have a lot of catching up to do to understand the local cultural scene and more. The learning curve will be very steep.

"His position is not simply to oversee a cultural district; being an outsider, he needs to have an understanding of the government, how it works, the arts community and potential audience in order to design the project," says one veteran artist who is close to the project.

The WKCD cannot take the same approach as the government in promoting the arts, which places more emphasis on "fairness and pleasing everyone" instead of artistic merit, the artist says.

"West Kowloon should take a leader's role in local art and cultural development. This district is a project that is of international world-class standard. Artistically, it has to be able to decide what is of quality. You cannot cater to everybody.

"So will the new chief executive have the courage to make that decision?

"On the one hand [Lynch] will need to communicate and work with the government - which is set in its way of doing things - and on the other striving for high standards. He needs to be brave enough to stand up for his decisions and choices and that is really challenging."

But the success of the WKCD will not rest on Lynch's shoulders alone. The district's evolution will depend on who will take over the reins as chief executive in the future.

For now, it is hoped that Lynch will at least stay long enough to kick-start this mammoth project and give it a solid head start.
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Old August 2nd, 2011, 06:42 PM   #813
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Making a case for modern museums
The Standard
Monday, August 01, 2011

Since there has been so much talk about our new contemporary art museum, M+, along with the many other cultural institutions like the Central Police Station, perhaps it's time to consider the role of today's museums in the community, and what they bring to the public.

Their benefits include:

Catalyst for change: museums can deliver specific messages encouraging people to think from varied points of view about given topics. They can stimulate debate and discussion among citizens, changing their perceptions of the real world through art.

Educational: museums can ensure that on leaving, everyone learned something they didn't know before, especially young people. Museums can also act as an educational authority by collaborating with schools and nonprofit organizations to bring art to the masses.

Centers for creativity: museums can engage visitors in participative projects, inspiring creativity among audiences through exposure to art. By offering people constant exposure to art, this can help develop their appreciation and interest in art.

Archival memory: museums can act as archives for history, traditions, places and people - serving as reservoirs for different generations and their collective memories.

Storyteller: museums can interpret a theme and display works in a manner that is informative in relating the past, present and future. Well-curated shows give viewers a spatial and contextual experience - better than any other medium.

Revitalization: museums can, through architecture and programming, help revitalize a town not on the tourist map. (The Bilbao effect through the Guggenheim, say.)

Local training ground: museums can act as training grounds for local artists, helping promote their careers and putting them under the international spotlight. This can greatly help the local art community mature, since museums will become clear venues for emerging artists.

Hong Kong Art Vanguard Association members - architect Nicholas Ho and art historian Stephanie Poon - don't always see eye to eye.
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Old August 5th, 2011, 05:15 AM   #814
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New West Kowloon culture chief vows to finally get show on road
The Standard
Friday, August 05, 2011

The new chief of the West Kowloon arts hub has pledged to speed up development of the project, which has dragged on for more than five years.

Michael Lynch, who toured the headland area around the site's promenade yesterday, said details of the final stage of the public consultation exercise will be announced in weeks, and proposals presented to the Town Planning Board by the end of the year.

It was his first media briefing since Lynch, 60, took on the role of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority chief executive on July 25.

The Australian, who leads and manages the site's artistic and project development, said he is surprised the site "still looks exactly the same" as on his last visit 3 years ago.

The spot, on reclaimed land, is "potentially the best site in the world" in promoting arts and culture, he said, while pledging to lead the team to accelerate the HK$21.6 billion project.

"Hopefully, we will create the sense of enthusiasm for the project that all of you will feel excited about," he said.

Lynch was accompanied by Chan Man-wai, the authority's project delivery executive director.

As soon as the town planning exercise is over, one of the authority's priorities is to make the land "much more attractive than present" by developing a 23-hectare public park in the wedge-shaped development site, Lynch said.

He said he has met authority board members, government officials and key cultural stakeholders over the past 10 days, and also exchanged ideas with architect Norman Foster, whose "City Park" design was selected for the project.

Lynch, a former director of the Australian Broadcasting Corp, was appointed in May and replaces Graham Sheffield. Briton Sheffield resigned for health reasons in January, just five months after taking up the job.

The authority has seen top-level resignations and delays since a government committee was set up in 2006 to come up with recommendations about the low-density project.

Part of the site is now used as a temporary promenade managed by the government.
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Old September 3rd, 2011, 08:49 PM   #815
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Arts chief loves city, not the chicken feet
The Standard
Thursday, September 01, 2011

It wasn't a baptism of fire but more like a foodie exercise for Michael Lynch in his first month on the job as chief executive of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.

Lynch, the 60-year-old former chief executive of the Sydney Opera House and Southbank arts complex in London, said it might be his taste buds that got him through what he describes as "the hardest part of a new job."

That's because he had to leave his family, his house and "it is about adjusting to a different place in a different way."

He joined the authority on July 25 on a three-year term after a global search that followed the shock resignation of his predecessor, Graham Sheffield, for health reasons.

Lynch, an Australian, said it is his first time working in an environment where he doesn't speak the local language but it is his love of food that "helped him to breeze through easily."

"I get Chinese food three times a day, so I am feeling absolutely happy on that front," he was quoted as saying in the August issue of the WKCD e-newsletter, which was uploaded yesterday.

Lynch said he eats almost everything except chicken feet and shark fin, which he finds "highly overrated."

He needs all the help he can get as the third stage of the public engagement exercise on the HK$21.6 billion project, based on the winning design by architect Norman Foster - dubbed "City Park" for the 40-hectare waterfront arts complex - will begin this month.

Lynch has a new Chinese name, "Lien Nah-chi," which means "continuously taking wisdom."

Another fact that he revealed: he caught polio when he was three. That's why the first thing he agreed to do officially was attend the awards night for the Arts with the Disabled Association Hong Kong.

He said his hectic schedule here reminded him of his seven- year reign at the Southbank Centre in London in 2002.

His favorite painter is Russian Wassily Kandinsky, his favorite singer is Canadian Leonard Cohen, and top actress for him is Cate Blanchett, also an Australian.

His wife, Chrissy Sharp, will move here in October.
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Old October 11th, 2011, 10:24 AM   #816
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Tang in zero-emissions drive for culture hub
The Standard
Monday, September 26, 2011

The future West Kowloon cultural hub will also pioneer a green city vision right down to its power generation facilities.

That's according to Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, who expressed confidence the government is willing to put in billions more dollars to realize the "City Park" idea.

Tang, speaking as the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority head, has yet to announce when he will step down as chief secretary to run for the post of chief executive in a move that may also require him to resign as the arts czar.

The political speculation is likely to give an extra buzz to Thursday's unveiling of the hub's development plan, which is based on a "minor" enhancement of Foster+Partners plan for a City Park, which had gained public traction in the past two exercises in 2009 and last year.

Tang said that besides "green power" generation, the park will also have a monitoring station for roadside emissions.

"West Kowloon will be the future pioneer of a green city," Tang told The Standard.

Terming sustainability as "the most important ingredient," he said Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah has agreed it is worth committing more resources to green features.

Thursday's announcement is expected to encompass phase one facilities and their completion dates, as well as the green features.

Following in its immediate wake on Friday will be the launch of a month-long public consultation exercise, the visual concept of which will be a 1:250 scale model of the arts hub and information panels that will be put on display at the Heritage Discovery Centre in Kowloon Park through October 30.

The plan will also incorporate "desirable features" from the other two master plans, including a more accessible Chinese opera center.

Still the subject of negotiations between the authority and the government is the additional HK$4 billion needed to build underground infrastructure, which threatens to add considerably to the original project cost of HK$21.6 billion.

The first level of the underground facility will be set aside for vehicular traffic and the second story for an underground car park.

Tang said it will be difficult to stop private cars from coming to the hub given its public nature.

Therefore a "zero-emissions underground [infrastructure] will be a good idea," he said.

Because it is infrastructure, it makes sense for a portion of its HK$4 billion cost to be met through the public purse, an authority spokesman said.

The City Park will have a cooling system for its 17 buildings, waste and water recycling systems and use renewable energy sources.

The original concept also calls for an elevated rail and a biobus service.

"This [final] design will serve as the basis for launching construction next year, pending approval from the Town Planning Board," said consultation panel chairman Stephen Cheung Yan-leung.
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Old November 7th, 2011, 04:40 PM   #817
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By csk_stg from a Hong Kong discussion forum :







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Old December 20th, 2011, 04:03 AM   #818
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Bamboo christening for Kowloon hub
The Standard
Friday, December 09, 2011

Cantonese opera is coming to the West Kowloon cultural hub - and the fact that the project has not yet been built won't stand in its way.

The four-day program cum contemporary visual arts exhibition will be held during the Lunar New Year next month at a purpose-built bamboo theater.

The event will mark the launch of the design and construction stage of the future cultural district and celebrate the Year of the Dragon.

West Kowloon Cultural District Authority's chief executive,Michael Lynch, said that tickets will cost only HK$10. The bamboo theater will be able to seat 800.

And Louis Yu Kwok-lit, executive director for performing arts, said there will be stalls and exhibitions at the fringe of the theater, reminiscent of how festivals were celebrated in Hong Kong in the old days.
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Old February 1st, 2012, 05:40 PM   #819
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Leung denies conflict in W Kowloon project
The Standard
Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Chief executive candidate Leung Chun-ying has been accused of a conflict of interest involving the West Kowloon Cultural District project.

In an exclusive report, East Week magazine said Leung was one of 10 judges in the 2001 concept planning competition - despite his company acting as a consultant for one of the competitors.

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, the former secretary for planning and lands bureau, was quoted as saying he was shocked when he stumbled across the alleged conflict of interest while checking nearly 160 competition entries. He then met with Leung, asking him to step down as judge.

Liberal Party vice chairwoman Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee, who was on the judges' panel, recalled Leung was excluded in the final stage.

Lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah said if the conflict accusation is true, Leung's role was unreasonable even if unintentional. Tong called on the government to release the relevant information in accordance with the Power and Privileges Act.

Another legislator, Cheung Man-kwong, urged the government to clearly explain what happened, as Leung's credibility is at stake.

Reacting yesterday, Leung was at first unwilling to comment, saying: "Let me check first."

Later, when asked why he had provided consultation services to candidates, he said: "It happened 10 years ago. Several professional teams participated in the competition, but neither my company nor I joined any of the teams.

"One quantity surveyor under a particular professional team asked our company about related comments and information on land prices in West Kowloon. But we did not take any money in return.

"There was no business relationship, or conflict of interest. I have already reported the case to the jury committee chairman and government bodies."

Meanwhile, the Federation of Trade Unions has threatened to boycott Leung and rival Henry Tang Ying-yen if they do not reveal their positions on statutory working hours.

Federation chairman Cheng Yiu-tong accused them of behaving worse than Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen on the issue.

"Tsang, at least, is studying the issue, but Leung and Tang only say they will let the public discuss it first," Cheng said. The federation holds 60 votes in the 1,200-member election committee.
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Old February 3rd, 2012, 02:22 AM   #820
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I don't really like it...
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