Press Release



LCQ15: Measures to promote art development


Following is a question by the Hon Bernard Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr David Lan, in the Legislative Council today(Wednesday):


It was reported that, upon the expiry of the relevant short-term leases, the artists now accommodated in a former Government Supplies Department building on Oil Street would be offered leases for space in the former to Kwa Wan Abattoir for a period of three years. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:

(a) It has plans to offer long-term accommodation for the artists concerned; and

(a) It has formulated specific measures, such as the provision of low-cost exhibition venues and workshops, in order to promote art development in Hong Kong and help local artists in developing their talents?



My replies to Hon Bernard Chan's questions are:

(a) As background, the site of the former Government Supplies Department (GSD) Depot at Oil Street has been earmarked as a land sale site for commercial/residential development. Pending the disposal of the site, the Depot premises were offered in July 1998 to the public on month-to-month tenancies explicitly for short-term use. The rental was heavily discounted to take into account the temporary nature of the tenancies. Various art groups took up some of the short-term tenancies during 1998 and 1999.

To enable the Depot site to be released for permanent redevelopment and to assist the artists so affected, the Government has offered to lease the ex-Ma Tau Kok Cattle Depot to them on three-year tenancies. They would be renewable if the site is not required by Government for further development. Since there is currently no timetable for such development, the present arrangement should provide for the artists' requirements in the medium term. We will monitor the situation to see what further measures are needed for the long-term.

(b) The Government actively promotes the development of art in Hong Kong and supports local artists through the following measures -

* providing and operating museums, which organize art exhibitions and competitions, as well as commissioning and acquiring works of art - such museums include the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong Heritage Museum and Museum of Tea Ware;

* providing and operating exhibition and workshop facilities at highly subsidized rates in the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre as well as eight civic centres all over the territory;

* organizing community art programmes (including regular exhibitions of works by local artists at the civic centres), a Public Art Scheme (display of local works of art at public places, selected through an open competition), and a Cultural Ambassador Scheme (giving financial and logistical support to local artists for art projects involving community participation);

* identifying vacant Government premises pending development and leasing them on short term tenancies at nominal rental to the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (ADC), a statutory body which aims to promote and support the broad development of the arts, for temporary use as studios / exhibition space. So far 7 units at Yau Ma Tei have been so leased to ADC;

* identifying Government premises, in collaboration with ADC, for display of works of local artists. The pilot scheme at Queensway Government Offices has been well received. We plan to continue the scheme in 2000; and

* sponsoring, through funding support to the ADC, various kinds of arts projects, and encouraging the community and the private sector to support and promote arts programmes and activities.

End/Wednesday, January 19, 2000