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LCQ8: Supporting local artists and arts groups to conduct cross-boundary cultural exchanges
     Following is a question by the Hon Ma Fung-kwok and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Jack Chan, in the Legislative Council today (February 28):


     The Chief Executive indicated in the Policy Address she presented in October 2017 that the Government would allocate more resources to support the local cultural and arts sector, and would, in the coming years, increase the grants for local artists and arts groups to stage performances and exhibitions on the Mainland and overseas.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) given that the Arts Development Fund (Cultural Exchange Project) under the Home Affairs Bureau provides grants for cultural exchanges between Hong Kong and other places, of the following details about the grant applications in each of the past three years (set out in a table):

(i) the number of applications received,
(ii) the number of applications approved,
(iii) the total amount of grants approved,
(iv) the average amount of grants for approved applications,
(v) the respective numbers of applications whose amounts of approved grants (a) were less than $100,000, (b) ranged from $100,000 to less than $300,000 and (c) were $300,000 or above,
(vi) the respective numbers of artists and arts groups involved in the approved applications,
(vii) a breakdown on the number of approved applications by the types of activities involved (e.g. exhibition, drama, dance, music, opera, visual art and others), and
(viii) a breakdown on the number of approved applications by the regions (e.g. the Mainland, North America, Europe, Asia and Australia) where the activities involved were held;

(2) whether the Government will consider relaxing the criteria for applying for and approval of grants under the funding scheme mentioned in (1) (e.g. expanding the scope of the projects which are eligible for grants, increasing the percentage of the grants in the budgeted total expenditure), with a view to enhancing the promotion of cross-boundary cultural exchanges; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(3) given that in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Government earmarked an additional provision of some $50 million in 2017-2018 to support cross-boundary cultural and arts performances and related activities conducted by local artists and arts groups, of the name(s) of the arts group(s) and the amount of grant involved in each performance/activity for which grant was given, as well as the date(s) and place(s) for holding the activity; whether the Government has assessed the effectiveness of such performances/activities; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(4) whether the Government will consider providing, on a regular basis in each year from this financial year onward, the some $50 million provision mentioned in (3) to support more local artists and arts groups to conduct cross-boundary cultural exchanges; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that ;

(5) of the current measures taken by overseas Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices (ETOs) and Offices on the Mainland (the Mainland Offices) to strive for opportunities for Hong Kong artists and arts groups to stage performances and exhibitions in the countries/regions concerned; whether the Government has assessed the effectiveness of those measures; if so, of the details; the details of the support offered at present by ETOs and the Mainland Offices to Hong Kong artists and arts groups when they stage performances and exhibitions in the places concerned;

(6) given that the Hong Kong Office in Beijing has set up a Cultural Exchange Division, whether the Government will consider setting up cultural exchange divisions or appointing dedicated staff in various ETOs and other Mainland Offices, so as to assist Hong Kong artists and arts groups in conducting cross-boundary cultural exchanges in the places concerned;

(7) of the efforts made by the Government in the past two years to promote cross-boundary cultural exchanges between local cultural and arts sector and their counterparts in the countries along the "Belt and Road", as well as the Government's promotion plans in the coming three years; and

(8) whether the Government has any plans to implement co-operation initiatives with the relevant authorities of the Mainland cities within Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area, with a view to promoting cross-boundary cultural exchanges and opening up more development opportunities for local artists and arts groups?

Reply :


     Our reply to the questions raised by the Hon Ma Fung-kwok is as follows:

(1) and (2) From 2015-16 to 2017-18 Financial Year (as at February 20, 2018), the Arts Development Fund (ADF) administered by the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) received 285 applications and approved 229 of them with a total funding support of over $12 million. The breakdown by year is summarised at Annex 1.
     The eligibility criteria for ADF are:
(i) the applicants must be Hong Kong residents or registered local organisations with a high level of artistic excellence or a proven track record in arts; and

(ii) the applicants must be on official invitations of either non-local government/quasi-government organisations, or any fairly reputable and prominent non-local arts and cultural organisations.

     In general, arts groups and artists in Hong Kong are eligible to apply for ADF. ADF's Notes on Application has set out, inter alia, the funding support from ADF shall be used to cover expenses on travelling, transportation, insurance and production of video tapes/discs on the cultural exchanges project. The approved grants shall not exceed two thirds of the budgeted total expenditure.

     In 2014, the ADF raised its ceiling grants amount from not more than one third of the budgeted total expenditure to not more than two thirds, but at present, the amount of grants of only a few approved applications have reached this ceiling. Besides, the figures at Annex 1 also show that about 80 per cent of the applications are approved. Therefore, the Government has no plan to modify the eligibility criteria and rules of grant for the ADF.

(3) and (4) To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, 36 Hong Kong artists/ ensembles/ arts groups visited 66 cities from February to November 2017, attracting over 100 000 audiences. Detailed breakdown is at Annex 2.

     The Government will assess the effectiveness of each sponsored event through overseas Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices (ETOs) and ETOs on the Mainland (the Mainland Offices), as well as reports from the arts groups involved, taking into account relevant indicators such as number of participants, media coverage, etc.

     Apart from introducing Hong Kong culture to other people, local arts groups and artists would also benefit from connecting with audiences of different places, gaining understanding of the arts scene elsewhere, and exchanging experience with different working staff through staging performances and exhibitions outside Hong Kong. This will also benefit their long-term development.

     Our vision is to create an environment conducive to the diversified development of culture and the arts, and develop Hong Kong into an international cultural metropolis. The Chief Executive has announced in the Chief Executive's 2017 Policy Address that we will allocate more resources to local artists and arts groups in the next few years and support them to perform and stage exhibitions on the Mainland and overseas, including participation in large-scale international and national arts and cultural events to expand their opportunities and promote the cultural soft-power of Hong Kong. The HAB and related departments and agencies have already taken that into account when formulating the estimates for next financial year, including increase of subvention to the nine major performing arts groups and Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC), which could use their recurrent subvention on cultural exchange.

(5) and (6) ETOs (except the Geneva ETO which specialises in World Trade Organization matters) and the Mainland Offices have all along been promoting Hong Kong's arts and culture and strive for opportunities for our artists and arts groups to stage performances and exhibitions in the regions concerned. ETOs and the Mainland Offices often support exchanges by arts groups of different scales in Hong Kong through organising, co-organising or sponsoring arts and cultural events such as concerts, dance performances and arts exhibitions, etc., and providing publicity support as well as inviting different audiences to the events. ETOs and the Mainland Offices will also, taking into account the relevant considerations at the time (including resources and manpower arrangements, cultural environment of individual areas, etc.), provide assistance to Hong Kong artists and arts groups including liaison with relevant local partners and arts and cultural organisations to facilitate their co-operation with Hong Kong's counterparts; and assistance in publicity through different channels, etc.

     Promotion of cultural exchanges between Hong Kong and other places has always been one of the main functions of the ETOs and the Mainland Offices. The Government will review the relevant support measures from time to time and continue to fully utilise the existing resources to strengthen its work in this regard. There is no further plan to set up cultural exchange divisions in the ETOs and the Mainland Offices.

(7) We strive to promote our arts and culture through performances, exhibitions, conferences and forums in Hong Kong, the Mainland and overseas, and encourage arts groups and artists of countries along Belt and Road (Belt and Road countries) to participate in cultural exchange activities in Hong Kong in order to promote the people-to-people bond among Belt and Road countries. For example, the HAB hosted the 10th Asia Cultural Co-operation Forum (ACCF) in Hong Kong in November 2017 with the attendance of cultural ministers and senior officials of 10 Asian countries to exchange ideas and share views on the furtherance of cultural co-operation to promote the development of culture and the arts. Among them, Republic of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyz Republic are Belt and Road countries joining ACCF for the first time. We plan to hold the 11th ACCF in 2019. We also hold the "Miles upon Miles: World Heritage along the Silk Road" exhibition at the Hong Kong Museum of History from November 2017 to March 2018 showcasing the cultural relics from Shaanxi, Henan, Gansu and Xinjiang; and Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.  The exhibition provides valuable cultural exchange experience and opportunities to educate citizens and students of the culture of the Silk Road.  If there are suitable opportunities in future, we will also organise similar exhibitions with Belt and Road countries again. Furthermore, Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau each sent its arts groups to participate in the "China-Arab Cultural Journey along the Silk Road" held in Bahrain from late-September to early-October 2017 to promote cultural exchanges between the three places and Belt and Road countries. 

     We will continue to support cultural exchanges between our arts sector and Belt and Road countries through various channels. Indeed, the HAB and the HKADC have different funding schemes for arts groups to apply for such activities. At the same time, the HAB has also been making efforts to enhancing co-operation with other countries in the field of culture and the arts through the signing of Memorandum of Understanding on Cultural Co-operation (MoU). As at February 27, 2018, we have signed MoUs with 16 countries, including Belt and Road countries such as Russia and Indonesia.

(8) The HAB, the Department of Culture of Guangdong Province and the Cultural Affairs Bureau of Macau have established a cultural framework within the Greater Pearl River Delta region since 2002, and have been following up cultural co-operation initiatives in different areas under the framework. The three places have frequent co-operation in the past, for example, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department has invited major arts groups from the Mainland to perform folk song, dances and traditional stage arts as well as Guangdong and Macau folk craft artists to provide demonstration in Lunar New Year and Mid-Autumn Lantern Carnivals, and organised "A Showcase of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao Cantonese Opera Masters/ New Stars" in the three places; Chung Ying Theatre Company has co-operated with the Guangdong Performing Arts Company and Theatre Famers in Macau for a cultural exchange scheme in theatre arts; and Guangdong and Hong Kong has staged the "Cantonese Music Assembly" Cross-Disciplines Guangdong Music Concert, etc. We will continue to foster cultural co-operation network of the three places in performing arts, programmes, arts festivals and other celebration events in the Bay Area under the framework.
Ends/Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Issued at HKT 14:40
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