Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. CB(2)1435
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)

Ref : CB2/PL/BCS

Provisional Legislative Council Panel on Broadcasting, Culture and Sport

Minutes of Meeting held on Friday, 13 March 1998 at 11:00 am in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

Hon MOK Ying-fan (Chairman)
Hon MA Fung-kwok (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, JP
Hon Henry WU
Hon CHAN Choi-hi
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen

Members Absent :

Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting

Public Officers Attending :

Item III

Mrs Jenny WALLIS
Deputy Secretary (Culture and Sport)
Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Bureau

Mr William SHIU
Principal Assistant Secretary (Culture)
Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Bureau

Mr CHUNG Ling-hoi
Assistant Director (Cultural Services)
Urban Services Department

Miss CHOI Suk-kuen
Assistant Director (Culture and Entertainment)
Regional Services Department

Item IV

Mrs Jenny WALLIS
Deputy Secretary (Culture and Sport)
Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Bureau

Mr William SHIU
Principal Assistant Secretary (Culture)
Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Bureau

Clerk in Attendance :

Mrs Constance LI
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2

Staff in Attendance :

Mr Colin CHUI
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 2

I.Confirmation of minutes of meeting and matters arising

(PLC Paper No. CB(2)1200)

The minutes of the meeting held on 6 February 1998 were confirmed.

II.Draft Panel report to Provisional Legislative Council

[Paper No. CB(2)1134(02)]

2. The Chairman said that in accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the Provisional Legislative Council, Panels would be required to submit reports to the Council. For this purpose, a draft report [Paper No. CB(2)1134(02)] had been forwarded to members. He added that issues discussed at this meeting would be incorporated into the report, a revised version of which would be circulated to members for agreement. Members endorsed the draft report.

III.Policy on promotion of cultural exchange activities

[Paper Nos. CB(2)933(02) and 941]

3. At the invitation of the Chairman, Deputy Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport (Culture and Sport) (DSBCS) briefed members on the Administration's paper.

Role of Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Bureau

4. Noting that the Government only made modest provisions to the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC) for financing cultural exchange activities, the Deputy Chairman commented that the Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport (SBCS) was probably a "commander with no soldiers" in the promotion of cultural exchange activities. DSBCS clarified that when SBCS said he was a "commander with no soldiers" at a previous Panel meeting, he was referring only to the extent of resources he had within his authority to deploy for cultural activities, when compared to those possessed by the two provisional municipal councils. In 1996-97, the two provisional municipal councils spent $1.426 billion on culture, representing 82 % of the total expenditure ($1.744 billion) for cultural activities in Hong Kong. As the two municipal councils were statutory independent bodies, SBCS could not exert undue influence on them or interfere with their resource deployment. However, this did not imply that the Bureau undermined the importance of or did little work for the promotion of arts and culture in Hong Kong. Promotion of arts development was achieved mainly through funding support to HKADC and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts to encourage the development of multi-disciplinary arts and training of professional artists. Regarding the overall allocation and utilisation of resources for arts and cultural development, DSBCS believed that the review on the structure of district organisations to be conducted by the Constitutional Affairs Bureau would throw light on the future direction and the role to be played by the two municipal councils. A public consultation document would be issued around June 1998 to gauge public opinion.

Role of HKADC

5. A member asked about the major responsibilities and priorities of HKADC. DSBCS responded that HKADC was tasked with the development and promotion of the arts in Hong Kong which naturally included the promotion of cultural exchanges. Apart from organising international arts seminars, HKADC was responsible for vetting applications for funds from local arts groups and organisations in promoting arts and cultural activities. BCSB was discussing with HKADC on strengthening its work in this respect. In response to another member as to whether promotion of cultural exchange activities should be included in the terms of reference of HKADC, Principal Assistant Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport (Culture) (PAS(C)) said that the Five Year Strategic Plan of HKADC for the period from 1996-97 to 2000-01 already included encouragement of international cultural exchange as one of the key tasks of HKADC.

Sponsorship to overseas tours

6. In reply to a member, Assistant Director of Regional Services (Culture and Entertainment) (ADRS) advised that the statutory provisions restricting municipal councils’ sponsorship to overseas tours of local arts organisations had been repealed.

7. As regards the financial allocation from HKADC and provisional municipal councils to overseas cultural exchange programmes, DSBCS said that in 1996-97, HKADC spent some $1.59 million supporting local artists/arts organisations to participate in 20 cultural exchange activities. The amount was increased to roughly $2.46 million in 1997-98 (up to 31 December 1997) for 21 activities. For the Provisional Urban Council (PUC), Assistant Director of Urban Services (Cultural Services) (ADUS) said that PUC sponsored overseas tours of its performing companies such as the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, Hong Kong Dance Company and the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre and some local performing groups by sponsoring their pre-tour or post-tour performances in Hong Kong, thereby offsetting part of their overseas production costs. Concerning the Provisional Regional Council (ProRC), ADRS stated that ProRC did not have its own performing companies nor provide direct subsidy to arts organisations. Nevertheless, ProRC also supported the overseas tours of some local performing arts groups by inviting them to give performances in Hong Kong before or after the overseas tours.

8. A member expressed concern that the small amount of financial subsidy from HKADC could not effectively promote cultural exchange activities. In this regard, she sought more information from the Administration on the criteria for allocation of funds, and the proportion of these allocations to the HKADC's overall expenditure. PAS(C) responded that the majority of HKADC's provision was earmarked for "General Support Grant" organisations, and sponsorship to cultural exchange activities only represented a small proportion of the overall expenditure of HKADC. However, with a substantial increase in the Government's recurrent subvention to HKADC from $82 million in 1997-98 to $109.7 million in 1998-99, it was hoped that more funds could be allocated to cultural exchange activities. On the allocation criteria, DSBCS advised that applications were vetted by the relevant arts committees of HKADC which took into consideration the overall funding position and the merits of individual applications, such as the standard of performance and expected income. The amounts granted ranged from a few thousand dollars to $180,000. In this connection, Members requested the Administration to provide by 1 April 1998 a comparison of the expenditure, together with an analysis by type of programmes, for cultural exchange activities sponsored by the two provisional municipal councils and HKADC. PAS(C) agreed to provide the information as soon as possible. He pointed out that, compared with the $2 billion funds earmarked by the two provisional municipal councils for arts and cultural activities, the $109 million allocation to HKADC represented only a small portion of the overall provision for promoting the development of arts and culture. In making the comparison, the Administration would highlight the basis and criteria of sponsorship for cultural exchange programmes by the two Provisional Municipal Councils and HKADC. Adm


Scope of sponsored cultural exchange activities

9. Members were concerned about the types of sponsored cultural exchange activities which appeared to be limited to performing arts activities at present. DSBCS responded that there were no pre-determined programmes or themes and it depended on the applications received. HKADC supported diversity in the development of the arts and therefore did not impose restrictions on the nature of activities to be sponsored.

Assistance of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices

10. Members suggested that the overseas Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices (ETOs) should be requested to assist in the public relations work for Hong Kong's participation in major international cultural exchange events. DSBCS responded that although there was no established mechanism at present for BCSB to seek ETOs’ assistance in this respect, BCSB would consider this suggestion. Adm

11. In concluding the discussion, the Chairman said that the Panel was concerned about the level of financial assistance and government support to develop local arts and cultural activities and to promote the appreciation of Hong Kong arts by international community. In this connection, the Panel considered that a review of the structure of district organisations should be undertaken as soon as possible to enable effective utilisation of resources. The Administration should also consider providing more assistance and support to HKADC's activities.

IV.Progress of the Arts Policy Review

[Paper No. CB(2)1134(01)]

12. At the invitation of the Chairman, DSBCS briefed members on the Administration's paper. She said that following the 1993 Arts Policy Review, HKADC had been set up to plan for the broad development and promotion of the arts in Hong Kong.

HKADC's role in arts development

13. Having declared interest as a member of the Film and Media Arts Committee of HKADC, the Deputy Chairman commented that HKADC appeared to have devoted its efforts to resource allocation rather than providing the vision and future direction on the overall development of arts. A member remarked that HKADC did not receive sufficient funding support from the Government. To enable more effective utilisation of resources, he was of the view that there should be more co-operation between HKADC and the two provisional municipal councils which had the lion's share in the allocation of resources for cultural activities. With regard to the future direction of HKADC, another member was of the view that the Government should increase its support and participation in formulating a clear policy direction for HKADC through the official members in HKADC.

14. Responding to members’ concern, DSBCS explained that HKADC was tasked with the broad development of the arts by providing funding support to arts organisations for organising arts activities. Given the resource constraints and the great demand for financial support from local arts organisations, resource allocation was naturally an important area of work of HKADC. As a 22-member statutory body with only two government representatives and an independent secretariat, HKADC enjoyed a high degree of autonomy in its operation. There was a statutory requirement for representation of individual art interests in the membership of HKADC so that it could take account of the views and concerns of different groups in formulating the overall strategy for arts development and in resource allocation. Owing to the large number of groups competing for funds, there were bound to be different views on fund allocation. DSBCS said that the major source of funds for HKADC was the annual recurrent subvention from the Government. Individual arts programmes also received private sector sponsorship from time to time. To enlarge its funding sources, HKADC was currently exploring alternative income/sponsorship sources.

15. On the achievements of the HKADC, PAS(C) said that despite its short history, HKADC had implemented a number of improvement measures to encourage community participation in and promotion of arts development. HKADC was examining its future strategies and work plans in the light of the overall arts development. The Secretary-General of HKADC who observed the meeting would take note of members’ views. The Chairman shared the views of the Administration that HKADC was an autonomous body and the Government should not interfere too much with its operation. Nevertheless, he hoped that the review on the structure of district organisations would lead to rationalisation of the allocation of resources for the development of arts and culture.

Policy on arts and culture

16. Some members remarked that the Administration's paper did not give the future direction on the overall development of arts and culture in Hong Kong. In response, DSBCS clarified that the Administration's paper under discussion was only a progress report on the issues raised in the Arts Policy Review Report published in 1993. It was not intended to be a position report on the Government's cultural policy. She elaborated that the existing cultural policy aimed to continue to encourage and promote a dynamic and diverse arts scene in Hong Kong subject to availability of resources.

17. A member commented that since the last review was conducted some years ago and with the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in July 1997, the Government should conduct another review to formulate a long-term and comprehensive cultural policy for HKSAR. The Deputy Chairman said that although the per capita public funds spent on arts and culture in Hong Kong were comparable to those in other countries, the community as a whole did not benefit much from the substantial amount of money spent in these areas. He shared the view that the Government should draw up a forward-looking policy on culture. In this connection, he would move a motion debate at the Council meeting on 25 March 1998. The Chairman however held a different view on the need for a comprehensive cultural policy in Hong Kong. He considered that arts organisations and individual artists should enjoy freedom of artistic expression and that the Government should not make any cultural policy to direct cultural development as this would unduly restrict the diversity and development of the arts. He considered nevertheless that the Government should resolve the historical problem and streamline the existing institutional framework for promoting arts development.

18. DSBCS responded that the Government did not have plans to conduct another review on arts policy or formulate a comprehensive cultural policy for the time being. It had all along been the Government policy to refrain from intervening in cultural activities which should be allowed to develop in a free and diversified manner. Nevertheless, as Hong Kong people faced the historic change arising from reunification with the motherland, individuals would need to go through a gradual process of getting to know Chinese history and culture, in order to have a sense of national and cultural identity. BCSB would continue to promote work in this direction.

19. As the meeting was the last one of the Provisional Legislative Council Panel on Broadcasting, Culture and Sport, the Chairman thanked members for their participation and support to the work of the Panel and representatives of the Administration for submission of papers and attendance at meetings.

20. The meeting ended at 12:50 pm.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
7 May 1998