LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 131/96-97
(These minutes have been seen by the Urban Council and the Administration)
Ref : CB2/PL/RC

LegCo Panel on Recreation and Culture

Minutes of Special Meeting
held on Tuesday, 17 September 1996 at 10:45 a.m.
in Conference Room B of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling (Deputy Chairman/Chairman of Meeting)
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
    Hon MOK Ying-fan
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon SIN Chung-kai

Members Absent :

    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP (Chairman)
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
    Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung

Attendance by Invitation :

Urban Council
Mr PAO Ping-wing, JP
Urban Councillor
Chairman, Culture Select Committee
Ms Ada WONG Ying-kay
Urban Councillor
Vice-Chairman, Culture Select Committee
Chairman, Working Group on Drafting
the Culture Select Committee’s
Five-Year Plan

Urban Services Department
Mr Tony MA
Assistant Director (Cultural Services),
Urban Services Department

Staff in Attendance :

Mrs Anna LO
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2
Mr Colin CHUI
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 2

As the Chairman was out of town, the Deputy Chairman took the chair of the meeting.

I. Meeting with representatives of the Urban Council & Urban Services Department

2. The Deputy Chairman welcomed representatives of the Urban Council (UC) and Urban Services Department (USD) to the meeting which was to discuss its Consultation Paper (the Paper) on the Five-Year Plan of the UC’s Culture Select Committee forwarded to members vide LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2007/95-96. He also drew members’ attention to Miss Christine LOH’s submission to UC vide Appendix II to LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2055/95-96.

3.At the Deputy Chairman’s invitation, representatives of the UC briefed members on the background, goals and underlying principles of the Five-Year Plan and stressed that the Plan was confined to performing arts policies and activities and the provision/management of venues and facilities for these activities.

4. Regarding the proposals in the Plan, Mr PAO Ping-wing highlighted the following:

  1. arts education was proposed to be strengthened with a view to enhancing the public’s ability to appreciate the arts and facilitating more public participation in them; and
  2. four additional performing arts venues (para 10.5 of the Paper) were proposed to be built. The four venues were required to meet rising public demand and aspirations of the arts community. The Government decision in 1988 not to build new venues should be lifted.

5. The salient points of discussion between members and the representatives of the UC and USD are stated below.

Resource Allocation to implement the Five-Year Plan

Resource allocation for performing arts activities

6. Ms Ada WONG stated that resource allocation for performing arts activities was not covered in the Paper because it would be reviewed after the consultation exercise so as to achieve a more balanced allocation. Miss Christine LOH noted that whilst such a review was mentioned in relation to support for local theatre artists, it was not mentioned in relation to other art forms. She opined that the drafting of the detailed proposals in the Paper should be consistent. Ms Ada WONG reiterated that the review would only be conducted after the consultation exercise and stressed that this was clearly stated in Chapter 4 (para 4.5(a)) of the Paper.

UC’s financial & human resources requirements

7. Noting that the UC’s financial and human resources requirements for the effective implementation of the Five-Year Plan were not covered in the Paper and would be reviewed after consolidating the public opinions on the Paper (para. 4.5(c) of the Paper), Miss Christine LOH asked if the UC’s productivity and efficiency in carrying out its work would also be assessed.

8. Mr PAO Ping-wing replied that there was a Management Audit Team in the USD to assess USD’s work with a view to improving its productivity and efficiency. He assured members that the UC’s Culture Select Committee would monitor and enhance the productivity and efficiency of the work under the Committee’s purview.

9. In response to the suggestion of hiring independent auditors to assess the productivity and efficiency of the UC’s work, Mr Tony MA stated that independent auditors had not been employed for this purpose. Mr PAO Ping-wing added that the Culture Select Committee would consider the suggestion.

Underlying Principles in the Goals of the Five-Year Plan

10. Noting that the UC, as an underlying principle in the goals of the Five-Year Plan, supported the freedom of creativity and artistic expression and advocated pluralism and diversity (para. 4.3(b) of the Paper), Miss Christine LOH enquired how this principle was realized and what was the UC’s role when such freedom was threatened.

11. Mr PAO Ping-wing responded that the UC applied this principle in the provision of and policy on performing arts programmes and in the provision/management of venues and facilities. Support to this principle could be seen in, for example, the selection of films shown in the Hong Kong International Film Festival organised by the UC. Films were selected based on artistic standard irrespective of their political contents.

Provision of venues and facilities

12. In reply to Mr Howard YOUNG‘s enquiry, Ms Ada WONG pointed out that the 400-seat studio theatre proposed under para. 10.5(c) of the Paper was necessary since the existing venue at Hong Kong Cultural Centre, with an utilization rate of over 90%, could not meet rising demand for venues and facilities for rehearsals and performances. Responding to the question of what venue size being most cost-effective, she said that the provision of performing arts venues should be considered with regard to the local community demand and the aspirations of the arts community.

13. Mr SIN Chung-kai asked whether the need for a 800-seat theatre proposed to be built in Kowloon West under para 10.5(b) of the Paper could be accommodated by the new Regional Council (RC) civic centre at Kwai Ching. Ms Ada WONG replied that the civic centre at Kwai Ching was not in the vicinity of some areas of Kowloon West, like Mong Kok and Tai Kok Tsui, which lacked performing venues. Under the Memorandum of Administrative Arrangements between Government and the UC, Government was responsible for the construction of territory-wide civic centres. The UC could build regional civic centres from its own funds, such as the 800-seat theatre proposed to be constructed on the reserved land for UC facilities. In this connection, Mr NGAN Kam-chuen pointed out that the RC had reviewed the provision of venues and facilities for performing arts activities and decided to continue building regional civic centres to complement territory-wide civic centres.

14. Mr Howard YOUNG considered that, notwithstanding higher construction costs, it was worthy to have venues with artistic design, like the Lee Theatre before its demolition, because these venues themselves could be tourist attractions. Mr PAO Ping-wing agreed to consider the suggestion and requested members to support the funding request for such construction projects when they were submitted to the LegCo for consideration.

Audience Building/Arts Appreciation/Arts Education

15. Noting that the Paper proposed to strengthen the audience building and performing arts education and appreciation, Mr SIN Chung-kai opined that developing children’s interest in performing arts was important and could be achieved by teaching and encouraging them to participate in the arts such as playing a musical instrument.

16. Ms Ada WONG responded that the Music Office was already organizing music training programmes to develop children’s interest in playing musical instruments. Nevertheless, the resources implications had to be examined in considering whether such training programmes should be extended to other art forms.

17. In reply to the question on the promotion of public interest in and appreciation of performing arts, Ms Ada WONG recognised the difficulties in widening audience base in the light of competition from pop culture and reiterated the importance of arts education/appreciation particularly the development of children’s interest in performing arts. The UC would liaise with the Education Department in organising more arts education/appreciation programmes. Given the existing low price levels of the arts programmes, reduction of ticket price could not assist in popularizing performing arts.

Co-ordination between Municipal Councils and Arts Development Council

18. Mr PAO Ping-wing stated that the UC’s Culture Select Committee had already discussed with the Arts Development Council (ADC) in the hope of dovetailing with the ADC’s Five-Year Strategic Plan so as to avoid duplication of resources. He had also written to the Chairman of the RC to seek the RC’s views on the Five-Year Plan, who replied that the Paper was being studied by members of the RC and a meeting was not necessary for the time being. Ms Ada WONG believed that the two Municipal Councils and the ADC played different roles and duplication of resources should not exist. Nevertheless, the coordination between the two Municipal Councils and the ADC was important. At present the two Municipal Councils were represented on the ADC. An informal working group with members from the three bodies might be formed to facilitate coordination. In this connection, Miss Christine LOH requested such coordination to be explicitly stated in the finalised Five-Year Plan.

Subvention to Hong Kong Arts Festival

19. Mr Howard YOUNG opined that there appeared to be duplication of resources since programmes of the Hong Kong Arts Festival (the Festival) were similar to those of the arts festivals organised by the UC and enquired if the UC could also take up the organisation of the Festival with a view to avoiding duplication.

20. Mr PAO Ping-wing replied that the Festival was a statutory body for organising the function. Besides the UC, the Festival was also subvented by the ADC and the Hong Kong Jockey Club. He considered it more appropriate for Mr YOUNG to present his views to the Festival for consideration.

Advance booking of performing arts programmes for tourists

21. Mr Howard YOUNG enquired if the advance booking of performing arts programmes, such as Chinese Opera programmes, could be made available to tourists through airlines or travel agencies. Ms Ada WONG responded that the UC was looking at ways to facilitate advance booking by tourists, e.g. making the programme details and advance booking available through Internet. Mr PAO Ping-wing undertook to consider Mr YOUNG’s suggestion. Mr Tony MA supplemented that the USD had discussed with the Hong Kong Tourist Association on the issue. There were practical difficulties on such advance booking arrangement since, for example, details of local Chinese opera programmes like dates of performances and ticket price could only be sorted out close to the dates of performances. Nevertheless, the USD would discuss with the local Chinese opera groups and other arts groups to try to resolve the difficulties in advance booking by tourists.

II. Conclusion

22. The Deputy Chairman thanked the representatives of the UC and USD for attending the meeting, who might be invited to a future Panel meeting after completion of the consultation exercise on the Five-Year Plan.

23. The meeting ended at 11:55 a.m.

LegCo Secretariat
14 October 1996

Last Updated on 12 Aug, 1998