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LCQ13: Preserving intangible cultural heritage during redevelopment of old districts
     ​Following is a question by the Hon Leung Man-kwong and a written reply by the Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism, Mr Kevin Yeung, in the Legislative Council today (November 30):
     It is learnt that at present, quite a number of traditional traders engaging in businesses relating to intangible cultural heritage (ICH) are operating in various old districts. However, these traders, from time to time, are forced to relocate elsewhere or even unable to continue their operations due to redevelopment of old districts. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) regarding the items included in the ICH inventory of Hong Kong, whether the Intangible Cultural Heritage Office has drawn up any preservation proposals or guidelines applicable to the redevelopment of old districts; if so, of the specific details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(2) when planning for the redevelopment of old districts, whether the authorities will gain beforehand an understanding if any ICH-related communities, organisations or traders are involved within the scope of the redevelopment, and provide them with support prior to the commencement of the relevant works, such as offering them relocation assistance or preservation proposals; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
     In consultation with the Development Bureau, the reply to the question raised by the Hon Leung Man-kwong is as follows:
(1) The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government attaches great importance to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage (ICH) and strives to enhance the public's understanding of ICH and engaging them in the safeguarding work. The Government promulgated the first ICH inventory of Hong Kong, comprising 480 items, in 2014, and the first Representative List of ICH of Hong Kong, consisting of 20 items, in 2017. The Representative List provides the Government with a basis for prioritising the allocation of resources and implementing suitable measures for safeguarding the ICH items.
     The key feature of ICH is its ongoing transmission from one generation to the next. Most of the local ICH items are being practised in various districts. The Intangible Cultural Heritage Office (ICHO) under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) is designated to identify, document, study, preserve and promote the knowledge and skills of ICH items, while encouraging public participation to facilitate the transmission and innovation of these items.
     The Finance Committee of the Legislative Council approved a funding of $300 million in December 2018 for LCSD to set up the ICH Funding Scheme, which the ICHO subsequently materialised for strengthening the safeguarding, research, education and transmission of the items inscribed on the ICH Inventory of Hong Kong. The scheme supports the ICH transmission activities organised by local bearers and bearer organisations and engages the community in safeguarding ICH. Since its inauguration in 2019, the scheme has been open for application annually under two categories, namely Community-driven Projects and Partnership Projects, allowing local organisations and individuals with relevant experience to apply. The funded projects include transmission courses, demonstration workshops, cultural festivals, exhibitions, themed publications and online promotional activities.
     The ICHO has visited quite a number of old districts to film and record the craftsmanship and workflow in the operation of ICH bearers for producing visual materials to be used at exhibitions and public programmes. Besides, the ICHO provides professional advice and support to other government departments on the safeguarding of ICH items in the old districts, including encouraging ICH bearers or bearer organisations affected by the community redevelopment projects to take part in the ICH Funding Scheme with a view to arousing the public's awareness of the values of the ICH items concerned and gain their support towards the safeguarding and transmission of the items.
(2) In planning for redevelopment of an old district, the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) will first conduct a district planning study, which generally includes cultural heritage research study and visits to relevant organisations and business operators in the district, so as to learn more about venues of cultural value, community and cultural events as well as local characteristics of the district.
     As regards individual redevelopment projects, if the projects involve intangible cultural heritage or community groups / shops with local characteristics, the URA will provide recommendations on the preservation of cultural heritage in the light of the findings of the district planning study. Depending on demand, the URA will also consider introducing "Special Arrangement for Preserving Local Characteristics" (the Special Arrangement) in suitable redevelopment projects. In order to promote and pass on the intangible heritage in the district, the Special Arrangement will, among other things, offer cash compensation and ex-gratia allowances to eligible operators of street-‍level shops with local characteristics and provide them with priority to rent the shop premises in the completed redevelopments with rental concessions for a specified period of time.
Ends/Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Issued at HKT 14:30
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