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Speech by CS at Hong Kong Institute of Planners & Urban Planning Society of China Conference (English only) (with photo/video)

    Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Rafael Hui, at the opening of the Hong Kong Institute of Planners and Urban Planning Society of China Conference this morning (April 2):(English only)

Mr Yip , Mr Zhou , Mr Shi , Ms Cheng , distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     It is a great pleasure to join you here today. I would like to thank the Hong Kong Institute of Planners (HKIP) and the Urban Planning Society of China (UPSC) for organising this event, and inviting me to speak.

     This conference focuses on an area of growing public interest, and that is the increasingly significant role that creative industries play – not just in the art and cultural sphere – but also in helping to shape the image of our cities, provide job opportunities, and contribute to economic growth. The interface between creative industries and city development in particular is most relevant to the town planner and it is in this regard that I would like to share some of Hong Kong's experiences.

     Hong Kong has long been a blend of Oriental and Western cultures. This is what makes Hong Kong such a unique, international city. We have an open and free society. We have the rule of law and rigorous protection of intellectual property rights. All of these have provided a solid foundation for the development of creative industries in Hong Kong.

     In order to nurture these creative industries, we must provide them with the necessary infrastructure and facilities. The Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront provides a good example. Here, the Cultural Centre, the Museum of Art, and the Space Museum lie adjacent to one another, providing art and cultural attractions for residents and tourists. To this space we have added another creative endeavour – The Avenue of Stars – a tribute to our film industry, which is perhaps our best known creative industry in the global context. In addition, the enhanced piazza area has become a popular location for events and social gatherings. The participation of local artists in designing the street furniture has added a special cultural quality to this project. The blending has provided an integrated activity node and further enlivened the very heart of our city. "Space" has become "place".

     Creative industries can be encouraged in many different ways. Large-scale exhibition centres such as the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre and AsiaWorld-Expo provide direct space for the promotion of products and design, as well as for hosting international exhibitions and conferences. Elsewhere, the Science Park and Cyberport, located near our universities and at waterfront sites, provide spacious and comfortable offices to attract a concentration of professional talent and businesses. In turn, these infrastructures, coupled with the facilities they provide and the people who work there, spur the growth of new creative industries because they themselves generate their own new demand and require additional support.

     Looking ahead, the development of the West Kowloon Cultural District offers great potential. This cultural hub covers a vast area overlooking Victoria Harbour. It promises to become a stunning showcase for our artistic ambition. Besides acting as a catalyst for the growth of new cultural and creative industries, this huge development will also breathe new life into the older, surrounding areas.

     Let me share with you an interesting fact – small creative companies and artists often choose to start their business in the older parts of town. For example, design firms and art studios have moved into the old industrial buildings in Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay. IT, printing and publishing firms are clustered in North Point and Quarry Bay. Artists have happily occupied industrial premises at Fo Tan, an old industrial area.

     We encourage such developments. A nine-storey factory building in Shek Kip Mei will soon be turned into a home for artists and designers. It will include a theatre, art galleries and commercial workshops. And it will be very interesting, in years to come, to see what impact this project will have on the surrounding areas. We hope and expect that the character and landscape of the area will evolve with the growth of these creative industries, leading to the evolution of supporting activities and, ultimately, to urban regeneration.

     New venues for artistic and cultural use can also be provided through the proper renovation and re-use of historic buildings and heritage sites. One such example is the conversion and restoration of the Old Dairy Farm Building, built in 1892 and now used by the Fringe Club, one of Hong Kong's leading contemporary arts centres. In a similar way, the Urban Renewal Authority plans to renovate 10 pre-war Chinese tenement houses in Mallory Street, Wan Chai, for creative and cultural use while also preserving the unique architectural form of these buildings.

     The Central Police Station Compound is another notable example. The Compound comprises the historical buildings of the Central Police Station, the Former Central Magistracy and the Victoria Prison. Not only are these buildings impressive examples of classical colonial architecture, they have witnessed the history of Hong Kong and the development of our judicial system. We have engaged with the public on its future use and received some very creative proposals. With proper conservation and creative reuse, the Compound has great potential to be developed into a heritage and cultural attraction, whereby local and overseas visitors can appreciate our unique history. Its strategic location in the heart of Central can also provide an effective link with other local attractions, including Lan Kwai Fong, SoHo, Hollywood Road and the recently opened Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum. We hope that a project of this type will greatly enrich the cultural, retail and dining attractions in the area, and enhance our visitors' experience.

     Ladies and gentleman, I have briefly outlined the importance we attach to the development of creative industries, and how these industries interconnect with our cityscape and our community. If you have time, please take a walk through our city to experience its cultural uniqueness and diversity.

     Meanwhile, we have speakers here today from the Mainland and other countries to tell us how creative industries have shaped their cities. I hope we have a fruitful discussion and I wish the conference every success. Thank you.

Ends/Monday, April 2, 2007
Issued at HKT 10:42


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