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LCQ1: Remunerations of arts workers employed by local arts groups

     Following is a question by the Hon Ma Fung-kwok and an oral reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Lau Kong-wah, in the Legislative Council today (July 6):


     According to the findings of a survey that I conducted earlier, the remunerations of local arts workers (including performers, behind-the-scene workers, arts administrators) are generally on the low side. There are comments that while quite a number of arts workers persevere with staying in the arts and cultural sector to pursue their ideals, the persistently low levels of remunerations and the lack of career development prospects have resulted in a constant drain of talents from the arts and cultural sector, which is detrimental to the long-term arts development in Hong Kong. On the other hand, owing to resource constraints of private arts groups, the remunerations offered by them to arts workers cannot match those offered by public organisations. As a result, these arts groups cannot retain talents and their development is hindered. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether the levels of remunerations offered by arts groups to arts workers is one of the considerations when the Leisure and Cultural Services Department selects local arts groups to co-organise, or receive sponsorships for organising arts and cultural programmes at present; if so, of the details; if not, whether the Department will consider taking the remuneration levels offered by such arts groups as one of the considerations, and what measures it has put in place to ensure that the arts workers concerned are reasonably remunerated;

(2) whether it has conducted any survey on arts administrators' remunerations in the past three years; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; given that the Government stated in the 2013 Policy Address that within the five years from 2013, it would allocate an additional funding of $150 million to strengthen the training of arts administrators with different levels of experience, whether the authorities have adopted, when implementing the relevant training programmes, any measure to make the remunerations of such administrators reach a reasonable level; if they have, of the details; and

(3) whether the authorities have adopted any measure to raise the remunerations of arts workers employed by private arts groups, so as to narrow the gap between public organisations and private arts groups in terms of the remunerations they offer to arts workers; if they have, of the details, and how they assess the effectiveness of such measures; if not, the reasons for that?


Acting President,

     The SAR Government attaches great importance to the development of local arts groups and arts workers. The Home Affairs Bureau (HAB), the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) and the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC) implement various funding schemes and measures, providing local arts groups and arts workers with different areas and levels of support to facilitate their creative work and development, with a view to enhancing their capacity and offering them with more opportunities for arts creation and performances. Our reply to the Hon Ma's question is as follows.

     The remuneration of local arts workers varies having regard to factors such as their modes of employment (including full-time and part-time), art forms and work nature as well as the situation of the human resources market, it is difficult to set a standard remuneration level across the board. Arts workers are one of the most important assets to arts groups. We trust that it is essential for arts groups to enjoy autonomy in the employment of artistic and administrative staff that is suitable for the characteristics of the art form and sector, and to exercise professional judgment in handling personnel appointment matters, including such arrangements as staff remuneration package, having regard to the needs of their arts and business development. The Government has no intention to interfere in arts groups' personnel appointment and remuneration matters, but we have all along been assisting the sector in nurturing talents and enhancing the overall financial capability of arts groups, so as to create an environment more conducive to the professional development of arts workers on all fronts, thereby improving the overall remuneration of local arts workers.

(1) The first part of the Hon Ma's question concerns the LCSD's arrangements in considering applications for local arts and cultural programmes. The LCSD will assess such applications holistically taking into account a number of factors, including the artistic merit of the programmes, professional competency and status of artists, appeal to audience and educational value, financial viability, availability of performing venues and technical issues, relevant experience and capability of applying organisations, etc. The fees for performers, principal creative personnel and production staff engaged by arts groups often vary depending on the contents, scale of individual programmes as well as their level of participation. Therefore, in considering the financial viability of a programme, the LCSD will examine the budget submitted by the arts group and discuss with the arts group to agree on an overall programme cost acceptable to both parties in the light of the overall staff expenditure of the programme as well as the estimated and actual expenditure of similar past programmes. The LCSD has not formulated guidelines on the fee level for engagement of arts workers by arts groups, which is considered inappropriate. We consider the current practice appropriate as it enables arts groups to, having regard to the budget and production needs of individual programmes, exercise professional judgment in handling personnel appointment matters, including the number of arts workers involved in a programme, their modes of appointment and relevant fees.

(2) The second part of the question enquires about the remuneration of arts administrators. The Government allocated an additional funding of $150 million in 2013-14 to strengthen the training of arts administrators with different levels of experience for the following five years, which mainly serves to broaden their experience and knowledge on arts administration and enhance their competitiveness, thereby meeting the demand for arts administrators in Hong Kong. As at 2015-16, we provided about 450 training places with the funding of $85 million allocated to the LCSD and the HKADC, covering local internships, attachments to/internships with overseas cultural institutions, scholarships and training courses for arts administrators. Besides enhancement in staff training, we are also committed to supporting the development of arts groups so that they have the resources to engage suitable arts administrators and other arts talents, whereby creating a more conducive environment for the professional development of arts workers. Given their different sizes, activities and modes of operation, it is difficult to make a comparison amongst arts groups in respect of remuneration of arts workers. Furthermore, the sector does not have an across-the-board standard to determine the fees and remuneration of arts workers, including arts administrators, and the Government has not conducted any comprehensive review on the remuneration of art administrators in the past.
(3) Generally speaking, in determining the level of remuneration for their staff (including arts workers), the LCSD and organisations receiving recurrent subvention from the HAB will take in account the salary level of similar types of jobs as well as factors such as job requirements and working conditions of the posts.

     From 2012-15, the HKADC engaged a consultant to conduct a Survey of Workforce and Future Demand for Arts Administrators and Professionals of Arts Organisations and Venue Operators. Findings of the survey suggest that there will be increasing demand for arts administrators in future. We consider that arts groups should exercise professional judgement in setting suitable staff remuneration package to retain talents having regard to their arts and business development needs.

     To improve the remuneration of arts workers, we believe that the Government should further enhance the overall operating environment of the sector and support arts groups in capacity building, so as to create a more conducive environment for the professional development of arts workers. In this regard, the major initiatives we implemented in recent years include:

(i) To enhance support for small and medium-sized arts groups, the Government has increased the recurrent subvention for the HKADC's One-Year/Two-Year/Three-Year Grant Schemes by $18 million since 2014-15. In addition, the time-limited funding of $5 million for enhancing support for one-year grantees has been turned into a recurrent subvention from 2014-15 onwards. Comparing with 2013-14, we anticipate that the average funding received in 2016-17 by arts groups receiving annual grant from the HKADC will increase from $640,000 to about $800,000, providing them with greater financial flexibility to use the funding on improving the remuneration of arts workers or on other areas conducive to arts creation and operation;

(ii) Launched by the Government in 2011, the Arts Capacity Development Funding Scheme disburses around $30 million per year for application by local arts groups and the Scheme supports large-scale and cross-year arts and cultural initiatives/activities. Since its launch, the Scheme has approved 24 applications for Springboard Grants with matching elements and 49 applications for Project Grants with direct funding support, at a total approved funding ceiling at more than $170 million. The Scheme provides additional financial support to small and medium-sized arts groups for sustainable development, enabling them to continue with their support to the work of arts workers;

(iii) In 2015-16, the funding provided by the LCSD for supporting young artists/small and medium-sized arts groups amounted to around $100 million. Over 4,000 funded performances and activities were held, providing opportunities for arts creation and performance as well as generating revenue for arts groups, thus benefitting arts workers;

(iv) In 2014-15, an additional recurrent subvention of around $30 million was allocated by the Government to nine major performing arts groups for supporting the implementation of initiatives for nurturing talents, improving staff remuneration to retain talents and production of new works, thereby facilitating them to optimise their human resources and to enhance artistic excellence; and

(v) Under the Art Development Matching Grants Pilot Scheme launched last month, assistance is given to more established arts groups/organisations (including HKADC) to enhance their ability in soliciting donations and sponsorships through matching grants provided by the Government, thereby widening their sources of funding and inculcating a donation culture for arts and cultural development. As part of the initiative, the HKADC also plans to introduce and operate its own matching fund scheme under which small and medium-sized arts groups supported by HKADC may receive matching grants from the HKADC for the amount of donations/sponsorships they raise. The Scheme may improve the financial capability of arts groups, thus enabling their further optimisation of human resources and enhancement in artistic excellence and operation.

     Looking ahead, we will continue to diversify the funding sources of arts groups through various support measures in order to facilitate the sustainable development of the local arts sector.

     Thank you, President.

Ends/Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Issued at HKT 15:42


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