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Old March 15th, 2012, 04:12 PM   #821
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Cash Kowloon
The Standard
Thursday, March 15, 2012

The West Kowloon Cultural District, all 40 hectares of it, could well be the crown jewel that every leading property developer aspires to. What makes the chunk of waterfront space even more desirable is that more land may be annexed.

Last Friday, the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority's latest development plan was submitted to the Town Planning Board for approval. It proposes an area along Canton Road and Austin Road be included, increasing by 2 percent the land in the district, taking the total to 4.4 million square feet.

The gross floor area of seven out of 10 mixed-use sites was also increased by 0.2 percent.

That includes 7,000 sq ft added to a site designated for hotel use. The arts and cultural district, located along the West Kowloon waterfront and accessed by the Kowloon MTR station, comprises 10 sites of mixed use and six for arts, culture, entertainment and commercial use.

For arts, culture, entertainment and commercial use, the six sites provide GFA of 3.95 million sq ft.

The mixed-use sites would have a total floor area of 3.92 million sq ft: 1.62 million sq ft for hotel and office, and 1.6 million sq ft for residential use, and the rest for public facilities and common areas.

Cushman & Wakefield Valuation Advisory Services Greater China national director Vincent Cheung Kiu- cho expects the district to provide 410 hotel rooms, with an average 2,153 sq ft including space for facilities. There will also be another 59 floors of office space, each of 15,005 sq ft. The residential sites may provide up to 2,485 flats, he estimates.

"Heights of all buildings are limited to 70-100 meters. Assuming an average ceiling height of 3.7m for each floor, the flats will be built in 21 buildings of 19-20 stories, and one of 27 stories," Cheung said.

"If there were to be six flats on each floor, the average size of flats in the district could be about 650 sq ft, assuming that there are no stipulations of flat size and number of flats."

A residential project of that size would be comparable to Mei Foo Sun Chuen, where building height limits are applicable.

Cheung added that apartments in the cultural district are likely to cost an average of HK$15,000 psf. With sea views, that could rise to between HK$18,000 and HK$20,000 psf.

A neighboring project with similar flat sizes and comparable to property that may be built in West Kowloon is consortium-built The Coronation.

In January, the consortium led by Sino Land (0083) introduced to the market the 740-unit project. The flats, sized between 403 and 2,652 sq ft, sell for an average HK$15,695 psf.

Some agents see greater potential in pricing. "Many potential homebuyers are interested in flats in the cultural district," said Ming Leung, district sales director at Hong Kong Property. "As much as 30 percent are mainland buyers, who are attracted to the location close to the future terminal of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong express rail link."

The railway will run from West Kowloon to Shenzhen. The terminus is in the north of the art hub district and will be linked to Austin and Kowloon stations. According to MTR estimates, Kowloon Station will be an eight- to 10-minute walk from the rail terminus and there will be a two- to three-minute walk from the terminus to Austin Station.

Leung said flats to be built may be comparable to projects that provide bigger apartments with seaviews nearby, such as The Cullinan and The Harbourside atop Kowloon Station.
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Old March 29th, 2012, 05:06 AM   #822
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Artists need room to move
The Standard
Monday, March 26, 2012

The start early this month of a design competition for a West Kowloon Cultural District arts venue has many people excited.

But those who currently represent the Hong Kong arts community, international commercial galleries, often present works by foreign and mainland artists.

Their move to go with art that can capture a wider and richer market may be only logical, but for the SAR to truly become a genuine arts hub, local participation is a must.

Artists must be given an edge if Hong Kong is to develop an even more unique cultural identity, while the public is educated to appreciate their works.

It is and must be a cathedral of art for locals first. In every arts hub - New York, London, Paris, Bilbao and Tokyo - locals are the ones pushing the boundaries. Being the ones who live in and build the city they are the best people to create an identity for it.

One of the most feared scenarios is that a significant portion of the arts hub will be reserved for property development.

In Hong Kong, artists are always fighting a losing battle for space. High rental costs are pushing artists outside urban areas, and many of them are forced to find space in warehouses and factory buildings.

A few decades ago, these buildings became havens for artists because they provided maximum versatility with minimum rent. In Fo Tan, artists created a village-like environment where painters, sculptors, dancers, musicians and others gathered to let creativity blossom.

However, the reach of capitalism has finally arrived at their doorsteps. Now, artists are forced to move again, like gypsies.

The West Kowloon project has allocated art studios for artists to rent. For them to fully blossom the government must help on the subsidy front as well.

It would be a great shame if real estate, one of the pillars of the SAR's prosperity, became the weapon that killed the city's talents.

Developers are not the enemies here, local budding artists, international galleries and local developers can all exist in harmony.

Many believe the new chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, is the one who can realize this dream.

Architect Nicholas Ho and art historian Stephanie Poon don't always see eye to eye.
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Old March 30th, 2012, 06:48 PM   #823
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Draft West Kowloon Cultural District Development Plan published
Friday, March 30, 2012
Government Press Release

The Town Planning Board today (March 30) announced the publication of the draft West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) Development Plan.

The Development Plan covers an area of about 40.91 hectares to the south of Austin Road West and the Western Harbour Crossing Toll Plaza. It is intended to be developed into an arts, cultural, entertainment and commercial district with a distinguished identity.

In accordance with section 21(9) of the WKCD Authority Ordinance, the draft Development Plan replaces the draft South West Kowloon Outline Zoning Plan in relation to the area delineated and described in the draft Development Plan.

The draft WKCD Development Plan No. S/K20/WKCD/1 is now available for public inspection during office hours at the Secretariat of the Town Planning Board, the Planning Enquiry Counters in North Point and Sha Tin, the Tsuen Wan and West Kowloon District Planning Office and the Yau Tsim Mong District Office.

Any person can make written representations in respect of the draft Development Plan to the Secretary of the Town Planning Board on or before May 30. Representations made to the Town Planning Board will be available for public inspection.

Copies of the draft Development Plan are available for sale at the Map Publications Centres in North Point and Yau Ma Tei. The electronic version of the Development Plan can be viewed at the Town Planning Board's website at www.info.gov.hk/tpb/.
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Old July 4th, 2012, 09:10 AM   #824
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Huge China art gift boosts Hong Kong culture district
AFP
4 July 2012

The donation of a major collection of Chinese art has breathed new life into plans for a cultural development on Hong Kong's waterfront that more than once appeared to be on the brink of collapse.

Leaders of the almost $3 billion integrated development known as the West Kowloon Cultural District are now more confident than ever that the project, already 14 years in the planning, will become a reality from 2017.

As a master plan by British architect Norman Foster for the harbour district edges forward, the artistic foundation stone was laid in June in the form of a donation of 1,463 works of contemporary Chinese art valued at $163 million by former Swiss diplomat Uli Sigg.

The collection, consisting of works by more than 300 artists including Ai Weiwei, Ding Yi, Fang Lijun and Geng Jianyi, is considered by many to be the largest and most important collection of Chinese contemporary art in the world.

"It's a phenomenal donation because in one go it defines this museum," said Lars Nittve, executive director of the yet-to-be-built M+ museum where the Sigg collection will be displayed from 2017.

"You can build big buildings, that's not so difficult, but to have a collection ... that's a major step," added the Swedish former director of the Tate Modern gallery in London.

The beauty of the Sigg collection is that unlike most private collectors, who generally buy what appeals to their personal tastes, Sigg set out to create a historical record of Chinese art, in all its forms, over the past 30 years.

"In the early 1990s I realised that nobody was collecting Chinese contemporary art even remotely systematically -- neither individuals nor institutions in China or abroad," the former Swiss ambassador to China said in a statement.

"That seemed odd for the biggest cultural space in the world, and for what will be in hindsight a very important period.

"So I decided to change my approach and collect like an institution would...I set out to create that 'document' about Chinese contemporary art that is missing in China, and missing outside as well."

West Kowloon Cultural District Authority chief executive Michael Lynch, the Australian former director of the Sydney Opera House who is in charge of the whole Kowloon development, said the Sigg donation was a breakthrough.

"It will serve as a major impetus for us to get the thing done," he told AFP at his office overlooking the site for the proposed development, which will include theatres, parks, residential apartments and an exhibition centre.

Conceived in 1998 just after Britain handed Hong Kong back to China, the West Kowloon development was intended to give the southern city -- better known as a glitzy financial and shopping hub -- a world-class cultural space.

But the government's initial plan to develop the 40-hectare (100-acre) project in partnership with one of the city's property tycoons met a firestorm of public opposition and had to be scrapped.

Lynch's British predecessor lasted only a few months in the post before returning to London to join the British Council.

When Lynch -- who was chief executive of the South Bank Centre in London from 2002 to 2009 -- took over a year ago, the job was regarded by many as a poisoned chalice.

But the veteran arts administrator said the days of uncertainty are now over and the project is on budget and ahead of schedule, with the "digging" to start next year and the centrepiece M+ museum on course for a 2017 opening.

That is when Hong Kong's new leader, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, has promised full suffrage instead of the "small circle" vote by a pro-Beijing electoral committee that appointed him in March.

It's a timetable that is not lost on 61-year-old Lynch, who talks about the Kowloon cultural district as a "democratic space" where art, commerce and the outdoors will come together in an environmentally sustainable development.

"The next five years for us are going to be absolutely critical, as they will for the government that faces an election in 2017. I would have thought our interests are quite shared in that way," he said.

He hoped the development would "make Hong Kong a great world city" and "embody the best of cultural districts from other parts of the world".

The Sigg donation was proof that "this is a project to be taken seriously".

"I guess we've now solved a major part of the problem -- of what goes in the museum," he said.
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Old July 26th, 2012, 06:19 AM   #825
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Cultural district chief raring for fast action
The Standard
Thursday, July 26, 2012

The chief executive of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, Michael Lynch, has his fingers crossed that the Town Planning Board will approve a master plan for the project before year's end so construction begins early in 2013.

As he marked his first anniversary in the job, which he took after predecessor Graham Sheffield quit abruptly, Lynch said: "The government is as keen as we are to get things done on time.

"We have got to a position where it is pretty clear that we will make real progress both in terms of what is happening artistically and that we will actually advance."

He also said the authority has been talking with officials on financing for underground links to the project.

The government has approved an outlay of HK$21.6 billion for the project, but the authority wants to determine how much may have to be spent on the links. Still, he said, "the government said in documents it will fund infrastructure."

Under the "City Park" plan by Norman Foster - who won the design competition last year - part of the underground space of the arts hub will be used for transport.

"The basement issue is complicated as it goes through all cultural facilities, all commercial facilities, all offices and residential buildings on the site," Lynch said. "Some will be paid by the government and commercial people who are constructing office buildings."

Lynch said in March that he wanted to rename the arts hub to distance it from political-based bickering about an alleged conflict of interest involving the then chief executive candidate Leung Chun-ying. Leung was a judge in a contest for an outline design years ago, but a person with a connection to his property consultancy was linked to an entry.

Lynch said yesterday he was not trying to hide anything that had gone before. What he wanted was a change from West Kowloon Cultural District to a name that fitted its place in Hong Kong.

He said he had looked at possibilities for a new name, which took into account the multi-language community of the SAR and the diversity on the 40-hectare harborfront spread.

But he had not yet spoken to the authority's chairwoman, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, about his wish to rename the arts hub.
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Old August 3rd, 2012, 07:26 AM   #826
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Culture cash soars
The Standard
Friday, August 03, 2012

We're on the money and ready to roll, says the boss of Hong Kong's long- delayed cultural hub. And it's happening this month.

The chief executive of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, Michael Lynch, said the future cultural hotspot is in the black to the tune of HK$2 billion - and that should be music to the ears of government.

Lynch, who took over the still- unbuilt cultural district a year ago after the shock resignation of his predecessor, Graham Sheffield, said: "We've always said we're in a great position. The government gave us HK$21.6 billion, we've now got over HK$23 billion still left because we've been able to invest the money."

The former chief executive of London's Southbank Centre, who also ran the Sydney Opera House, told The Standard the return was made over the past three years. "Half sits with the monetary authority and the rest is allocated to a range of non-risky investments, including renminbi," he said.

The cushion means the authority can keep going and look at the plan for an underground car park and competitions to choose the architects for its five major venues.

The authority is in negotiations with the government on funding - estimated last year to be HK$4 billion - to build the car park and greener facilities.

The parking will be on top of the underground five-level West Kowloon Terminus, a 13-hectare transportation center from which a high-speed rail service will connect Hong Kong to the mainland, and is expected to be completed in 2015.

The next 12 months will see a buzz of activity.

Work on what Norman Foster's master plan called the "Great Park" will start this month after the Leisure and Cultural Services Department hands it over. "We're in the process of establishing a nursery on the site to grow trees and see which trees are going to work best," Lynch said.

Bicycle lanes in the park will be ready this year. The park will host music festivals, a winter carnival and a four- week Bamboo Theatre project.

The park is next to Victoria Harbour - "probably the most beautiful site, next to Sydney Opera House" - and will have hills, a lot of artworks, and two venues called No 2 and No 3, where concerts and outdoor activities can be held for up to 5,000 people.

And five architects who have been shortlisted to design the Xiqu Centre on Canton Road are in town this week for the first time.

Next month the authority will open the competition for the design of the 60,000-square-foot M+ museum. The winner will be named by next June.

And in an artistic coup, M+ has won a donation of 1,463 works of Chinese contemporary art worth at least HK$1.3 billion from former Swiss ambassador to China Uli Sigg.

"We just signed our first agreement to lend some of it [the Sigg collection] to one of the major Australian galleries, the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra," Lynch said.

He is all too aware of the skepticism surrounding the cultural hub, amid a credibility crisis for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who was linked to a conflict of interest over a design competition.

"There's not much I can do about what happened 10-15 years ago," Lynch said.

"The interest of the new government is pretty much aligned with my own in that we want to move this project substantially between now and 2017."
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Old August 10th, 2012, 09:20 AM   #827
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By ll-s from a Hong Kong photography forum :

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Old September 18th, 2012, 11:57 AM   #828
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Arts hub sold on need for retail cash
The Standard
Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The West Kowloon cultural hub's flagship museum will have an additional 8,000 square meters of retail, dining and entertainment space in a move designed to make it the main source of income for the facility's running costs.

This was revealed as the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority launched a month-long concept design and design team competition for its 60,000-sqm M+ (Museum Plus), the biggest building in the arts hub.

The deadline for submitting expressions of interest is October 15.

Six teams will be shortlisted in December for judging by a panel of eight jurors chaired by Rafael Moneo, who won the Pritzker Prize for architecture in 1996. The winning team will be announced in the summer.

"The scale of the museum building alone, at around 60,000 sqm, will be on par with the Museum of Modern Art in New York," the authority said yesterday.

The master plan for the hub, designed by Norman Foster, is awaiting approval.

The authority's chief executive, Michael Lynch, said: "M+ will be the flagship visual arts venue for the West Kowloon Cultural District and for Hong Kong. It will provide essential space for the arts community, a world-class museum for the city, and a leader in global arts. The building should be a beacon of our commitment."

M+ executive director Lars Nittve said the project strives to regenerate the museum as a place where visitors become active, learning participants.

The complex will have 12,000 sqm of exhibition galleries, 11,700 sqm for collection storage and conservation, another 1,500 sqm for theaters, and 2,000 sqm each for a temporary gallery and an archive library.
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Old October 8th, 2012, 05:35 PM   #829
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Store of ideas for top museum
The Standard
Monday, September 24, 2012

As the main event of the West Kowloon Cultural District is now beginning its early developmental stage, many are starting to question the mode of operation of the space and its functional composition.

Some worry that it may be too commercialized, which often ruins the true purpose of a contemporary museum.

It is true that over-commercialization cannot only destroy the context of the art space, it will also hinder the vision of the exhibitions and shows - making them another typical bourgeois commercial entity.

While most of the great museums and galleries of the world are operated by governments along with private organizations, they all seem to perform wonders with the commercial and non- commercial components of the space.

Without a doubt, a museum's success lies in the quality of its exhibits and the planning of the overall space, in context with the identity of the building.

However, to a certain degree, the commercial element of a museum bookshop or gift shop should not be overlooked as being important.

After viewing an exhibition, we often refresh and reinforce our understanding of it by visiting the book or gift shop.

That's where we can find additional material or souvenirs to take home as a memory of the exhibition or art we perceived during the brief hour of the show.

They can also be used as a truly effective educational device, as people can share the information and materials after they visit a show with their friends and peers.

This type of retail element tends to complement the art and general context of the museum and galleries, making it a more enjoyable experience for art lovers and the general public.

It is this type of retail that we must support.

Unlike the typical random retail shopping components like those in Hong Kong, true retail elements that interact with the context of the space and the art of the space must work in tandem with the museum or gallery, to create a symbolic relationship ensuring the proliferation and expansion of ideas of the space.

The financial return from the retail component can help support many meaningful nonprofit projects such as an artist residency program, or local educational workshop scheme.

These supporting initiatives may in turn spin off and generate benefits for the museum as a collaborative effort.

We must work together - the curator, artist, vendors and museum director - to create a well- balanced, well-related and well-communicated coherent space, to deliver one coherent artist experience for individuals to truly enjoy and understand, and come to love.

We have every opportunity to make this district one of a kind in the world.

Although we have a late start compared to our Western and Asian counterparts, we are in no way behind in our competitive edge.

The truth is, the worry that our cultural district might be commercialized and derailed from its true purpose should always be at the back of our minds.

We must safeguard our museum from over- commercialization in malls.

But, in no way should we hinder the many more positive halo effects that these well-operated retail elements may generate.

Architectural critic Nicholas Ho and art historian Stephanie Poon don't always see eye to eye.
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Old October 19th, 2012, 06:05 AM   #830
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Culture fetches early reward
The Standard
Thursday, October 18, 2012

The authority overseeing the creation of the West Kowloon Cultural District has seen its financial assets increase by HK$2 billion to HK$23.09 billion. That comes with a 6 percent return on its money invested by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority had received HK$21.6 billion from the government as "endowment" capital for the hub. But as the authority's annual report tabled in the Legislative Council yesterday showed, it suffered a 2 percent loss on time deposits, down from HK$11.6 billion to HK$11.32 billion.

Still, its income was boosted 24 percent to HK$934 million and expenses were cut by 16 percent to HK$191 million.

The authority aims to start "digging" next year to deliver the first facilities from 2015, the annual report also states, as the planning process "is now at an advanced stage."

Chief executive Michael Lynch, who joined the authority in July last year after the shock resignation of his predecessor - Graham Sheffield held the job for just five months - received a HK$4.5 million pay package for the period.

The other senior executives between them collected HK$21.1 million during the last fiscal year.

And in a novel presentation for an annual report, each of the top executives wrote about what Hong Kong means to them.

Lynch, an Australian, said he was 13 when he first saw Kowloon from the deck of a ship while heading to a berth at the old Ocean Terminal. That was on a call in Hong Kong as he sailed to Britain with his parents. Almost 50 years later, Lynch said, he is leading "a challenging project" to create "a wonderful, enchanting, stimulating and exciting place for everyone."

Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who chairs the authority, said it will continue with its "prudent management" of the multibillion endowment as the project enters "an intensive development phase."
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Old December 10th, 2012, 05:17 PM   #831
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Leading Hong Kong Architects Chosen To Design Xiqu Centre The First Arts Venue In The West Kowloon Cultural District

from West Kowloon District Authority Website



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Old December 11th, 2012, 08:45 PM   #832
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Does anyone know where this Chinese Opera house is exactly located?
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Old December 17th, 2012, 05:49 AM   #833
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randolphan View Post
Does anyone know where this Chinese Opera house is exactly located?
"Occupying a prime site of 13,800 square metres at the eastern edge of the District on the corner of Canton Road and Austin Road West ..."

Source : http://www.wkcda.hk/en/newsroom/pres...ex_id_117.html
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Old January 17th, 2013, 01:51 PM   #834
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Opera fans still on song despite hefty price rises
The Standard
Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tickets to Cantonese opera and music performances at the temporary West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre are 70 percent sold despite hefty price increases.

Tickets to the January 30-February 16 shows cost HK$100 to HK$150 - from only HK$10 last year.

The Bamboo Theatre is part of the West Kowloon Cultural District's yearly project to encourage people to enjoy events at the as yet unbuilt arts hub.

Shows will be staged on a temporary, 800-seat bamboo structure on the future site of Xiqu Centre at the junction of Canton Road and Austin Road.

West Kowloon Cultural District Authority executive director of performing arts Louis Yu Kwok-lit expects the three-week event to attract around 15,000 spectators. He said the rise in ticket prices is to cover the higher construction costs.

The event will feature 10 Cantonese opera performances by a strong cast including renowned virtuosi Law Ka-ying, Yuen Siu-fai, Ng Chin-fung and Wan Fai-yin.

The public will be treated to a Chinese dance by the Hong Kong Dance Company and two delightful nights of contemporary music.

A fair will be held outside the theater where visitors can sample traditional snacks and appreciate handicrafts and innovative items designed by local artists and arts students. They can proceed to the Xiqu Centre Design Competition Exhibition showcasing winning designs.

Concept designer William Lim Ooi- leesaid the bamboo structure is a mixture of traditional architecture and contemporary design. It provides a special setting and nostalgic ambience for performers of different art forms.
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Old February 5th, 2013, 11:34 AM   #835
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West Kowloon arts hub resumes disclosure of meeting details
Tuesday, 05 February, 2013, 12:00am
South China Morning Post

West Kowloon arts hub chiefs have resumed publishing their board meeting details on the internet for the first time in nearly two years.

Resuming the webcast yesterday, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority chief executive Michael Lynch pledged to keep the public informed in future but did not explain the two-year gap.

The relaunch came after the South China Morning Post reported last month that the authority had not updated details of its board meetings, including dates, webcasts, and agendas, on its website since April 23, 2010.

The authority explained at the time that information had been publicised in board meetings and through its central registrar.

But some board members expressed concern over transparency promised by first board chairman Henry Tang Ying-yen.

In yesterday's meeting webcast, Lynch reaffirmed the importance of transparency. The authority also sent out a press release summarising the meeting.

Lynch also fended off criticism against visual culture museum M+, which was accused of not focusing on Hong Kong.

Last June, M+ acquired 47 Chinese contemporary art works from Swiss collector Uli Sigg for HK$177 million. The collector also donated 1,463 works.

Lynch said after the acquisition that the museum had acquired another 364 works, of which 328 were by local artists or directly related to Hong Kong.

"Despite the conjecture … the acquisition focused on Hong Kong," Lynch said.

He also said the arts hub was in discussion with the Home Affairs Bureau and other cultural bodies on building the skills of arts administrators using the HK$150 million training fund proposed in the policy address.
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Old February 6th, 2013, 07:47 PM   #836
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Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
Opera fans still on song despite hefty price rises
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Nikon D700 AFS 70 - 200 f/2.8 Kenko 2x Hong Kong 西九大戲棚 by icy5816, on Flickr

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Old February 7th, 2013, 07:35 PM   #837
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Bamboo Theatre draws crowds
The Standard
Tuesday, February 05, 2013

About 30,000 people have visited the Bamboo Theatre at the West Kowloon cultural hub in the six days since its opening.

And the West Kowloon Cultural Authority's chief executive, Michael Lynch, said yesterday there are plans to stage the popular Bamboo Theatre each year in the future "Great Park" while the Xiqu Centre for Chinese opera is being built.

The 800-seater temporary Bamboo Theatre opened on Wednesday and will remain until February 16 on the site of the Xiqu Centre.

"We've already sold 98 percent of tickets for performances," Lynch said in a webcast of an authority board meeting. "It will almost be a sell-out."

He said many of the visitors wanted to see the Xiqu Centre exhibition and the Bamboo Theatre and to visit 35 art stalls.

The temporary structure - designed like a traditional Chinese opera theater - presents a diversified program to draw both young and old.

"Almost 30,000 people visited in the first six days - it's been taken to the hearts of the community," said Lynch, adding it will be the last time for it to be held on the site of the Xiqu Centre, to be commissioned in 2016. Last Sunday, 6,000 visitors went to the site, many of them tourists.

The board chairwoman, Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, said the HK$150 million pledged by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in his policy address to strengthen the training of arts administrators in the next five years is a one-off funding.

But funding is expected to be expanded.
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Old April 22nd, 2013, 07:20 AM   #838
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Hiding hub head in the sand
The Standard
Monday, April 15, 2013

The West Kowloon cultural hub remains a project in waiting despite the fortune allocated to it.

Its destiny was sealed for the cost to skyrocket the moment the project got caught up in confrontational politics.

There's no doubt the project will result in a bill substantially over budget. The only question: how much higher?

In 2008, the Legislative Council's Finance Committee approved funding of HK$21.6 billion.

If what's been happening to the Xiqu Centre for Chinese opera serves as a valid indicator of the pressing problems facing the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, the implications are indeed alarming.

The center - originally budgeted at HK$1.3 billion - is seeing its cost more than doubling to HK$2.7 billion.

Home affairs minister Tsang Tak- sing must know this. Perhaps he was too scared to speak about it openly and therefore tried to get around it last week when he was queried by legislators expressing concerns the West Kowloon hub is turning into a "bottomless pit."

While assuring the government would definitely control costs and have strong finances to complete the project, Tsang refused to say if the sum already allocated would be enough or not.

He could have been more straightforward and admitted the amount won't be sufficient. This would cast a better light on the administration by appearing to face reality rather than evading the issue.

What's important now is for him and others to concentrate on completing the project as soon as possible - bearing in mind that the longer the delay, the higher the cost will likely be.

However, while Tsang is being blamed for the "black hole," legislators also have unshirkable responsibilities. As I've said before, the cultural hub is among the most financially irresponsible acts ever committed by lawmakers and government officials together.

Lawmakers' criticisms won't help to whitewash their political attacks that contributed to the project's delay. Had the lawmakers - especially those in the opposition - been less political in sidetracking the project years back, maybe we would be watching Cantonese opera at the Xiqu Centre now rather than at the make-shift bamboo structure.

The Kai Tak cruise terminal is another large capital project suffering from major delays.

But, recently, the first passenger cruise ship berthed at Kai Tak, opening the way for the terminal to be fully operational in mid-year.

However, I wonder how much longer we'll have to wait before being able to watch art performances in grand halls rather than bamboo facilities.

We don't need the minister to tell us the government has the financial means to complete the project. That's already well known to everyone.

What society wants to see is an all- out effort from government officials and lawmakers to finish the multi-billion art hub as speedily as possible.

That's the only way to control costs.
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Old May 13th, 2013, 09:28 AM   #839
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Art for art's sake not politics, DAB man warns hub
The Standard
Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A senior official of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority insists its collections of art will not be affected by politics.

This comes after lawmaker Chan Kam-lam took the authority to task for collecting artworks that include those of mainland dissident Ai Weiwei.

The Ai artworks include a 1997 black and white photo of a finger sticking up in front of Tinananmen Square.

Chan, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the authority should use its judgment when deciding what art to collect.

Any artworks that contain political messages should not be viewed as art, he said yesterday.

"People might have their own political orientations. As the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority operates the arts hub project professionally and independently, I hope that they can carefully judge [the collection]."

But Chan, speaking during a review of the cultural hub, said he has no intention of exerting political influence.

Labour Party lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau- lan warned that authority curators should never come under pressure over the choice of art.

"I hope that the Ai Weiwei artworks collected by the curators will not become a controversy for the authority," Ho said.

It is important the curators remain independent, she said.

In response, Lars Nittve, the head of the planned museum of modern art, said: "I don't think you can run a successful cultural institution without independence and freedom of expression.

"We have recruited a number of curators who could easily have jobs anywhere in the world. Owing to their expertise and standing professionally, they will never risk their standing by subjecting to any type of censorship or other regulation," said Nittve, the executive director of M+ museum.

Meanwhile, some lawmakers said they hope the authority will unveil estimates for the entire project as soon as possible.

One of the main projects - the Xiqu Centre for Chinese opera - has doubled its estimates from HK$1.3 billion in 2006 to HK$2.7 billion this year, owing to an increase in construction costs.

The center is scheduled to be completed by 2016.

Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing said earlier that the authority has kept a close watch on changes in the project costs and exercised the most stringent controls.
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Old May 28th, 2013, 12:34 PM   #840
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“M+流行充氣當代戶外雕塑展覽 Mobile M+ Inflation (Con)temporary Sculpture Park” / 香港西九文化區 West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) / SML.20130508.6D.05523 by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML, on Flickr
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