Legislative Council

LC Paper No. CB(2)1277/98-99
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)

Ref : CB2/PS/1/98

LegCo Panel on Home Affairs
Subcommittee on long-term cultural policy

Minutes of Meeting
held on Saturday, 31 October 1998 at 9:00am
in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

Hon Cyd HO Sau-lan (Chairman)
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting, JP (Deputy Chairman)
Hon MA Fung-kwok
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo

Members Absent :

Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Hon Christine LOH
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam

Member Attending :

Hon Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum, JP

Public Officers Attending :

Item II

Mr NG Sek-hon
Deputy Secretary (Culture and Sport)

Mr William SHIU
Principal Assistant Secretary (Culture)

Deputy Director of Urban Services (Culture)

Mr Tony MA
Assistant Director
(Museum & Libraries)

Mr CHUNG Ling-hoi
Assistant Director (Cultural Services)

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

Deputy Chief Inspector of School of Education Department

Mrs CHAM LAI Suk-ching
Principal Inspector (Music)

Attendance by Invitation :

Item III

Hong Kong Arts Development Council

Mr Vincent CHOW, MBE, JP

Mr TSENG Sun-man

Clerk in Attendance :

Mrs Constance LI
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2

Staff in Attendance :

Miss Flora TAI
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 2

I. Confirmation of minutes and matters arising
[LC Paper No. CB(2)368/98-99]

1. The minutes of the meeting held on 25 September 1998 were confirmed.

2. The Chairman informed members that advertisements inviting written submissions had been placed in the South China Morning Post and Ming Pao on 29 September 1998. A total of 13 submissions had been received from individuals and organizations and circulated to members of the Subcommittee. The Chairman asked members to inform her or the Clerk if they wished to invite any of the organisations or individuals to present their views to the Subcommittee at subsequent meetings.

II. Way Forward

3. The Chairman said that the Administration had made clear in its papers [Paper No. CB(2)513/98-99(01)] its intention to put in place a new institutional framework for the delivery of arts and sports services. In this connection, she asked members whether they had any suggestion on the future discussion items of the Subcommittee. Mr CHEUNG Wing-sum suggested and members agreed that the Administration should consult the Subcommittee on the new structure for arts and culture.

III. Meeting with the Administration
[LC Paper Nos. CB(2)513/98-99, 530/98-99 and 541/98-99]

4. Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs (DS/HA) referred to the Administration ' s papers which were circulated to members before the meeting. He highlighted that as 'culture' was an all embracing term, a cultural policy, if any, would have an impact on a wide spectrum of areas including education, housing, city planning and economic development, etc. If the definition was too broad, it would not be plausible for the Administration to have a culture policy which encompassed almost all aspects of life. However, the Administration did have a policy on arts development and it played a positive and supportive role to ensure a social environment conducive to diversified arts development and creativity. The Administration also encouraged community participation in arts activities. Financial support was provided to the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC) for promoting the broad development of arts, and to the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts for professional training of performing artists. The municipal councils also played a significant role in the promotion of arts activities. DS/HA added that heritage preservation was an important part of cultural activities, and the Administration joined hands with the Antiquities Advisory Board to preserve Hong Kong's cultural heritage. Continued efforts would be made in publicity and education on heritage preservation in Hong Kong. As regards the formulation of a plausible cultural policy for Hong Kong, he would welcome members' views and comments in this respect.

The scope of a cultural policy

5. The Chairman said that although the Administration had insisted that it would not be possible to have a plausible cultural policy encompassing a wide spectrum of areas, she had noticed from the Administration ' s recent papers that education, economic development and broadcasting had already been included as part of culture. Moreover, in the 1998 Policy Objectives of Home Affairs Bureau (HAB), 'nurturing the growth of a stronger understanding of our culture' was also included as a key result area under 'youth development'. The Chairman therefore asked whether the Administration could provide a plausible definition of 'cultural policy' to facilitate discussion of the Subcommittee.

6. DS/HA responded that as many aspects of culture were inter-related, it would be extremely difficult to devise a plausible overall cultural policy encompassing all aspects of life. He reiterated that he would welcome suggestions from members on a plausible definition.

Formulation of a cultural policy

7. Mr MA Fung-kwok said that Government actually had a policy towards culture, but he was concerned that the policy lacked transparency and was incomplete. He was of the view that although 'culture' did cover a wide spectrum of areas, the focus should be to provide a cultural perspective to implement the various policy concepts in the Chief Executive ' s 1998 Policy Address such as enhancing creativity and competitiveness of the community and developing an international vision and independent thinking in young people, etc. The Administration should critically examine what strategies need be adopted in the areas of arts and culture to enhance the future development of Hong Kong. DS/HA acknowledged the importance of having a macro view in developing a diversified arts environment, but expressed concern on how to translate it to concrete terms for policy definitions and implementation. Mr MA Fung-kwok suggested the Administration set out its policy objectives before devising strategies and identifying resources for implementation. Quoting cultural exchange as an example, Mr MA said that the Administration should examine whether sufficient resources had been put into this area and whether these activities had achieved the objectives of developing international vision.

8. DS/HA responded that the Administration recognized the need for a systematic and 'total' approach to formulating a cultural policy. As described in the Administration's papers, a lot of efforts had been put in arts education and training of art teachers to enhance creativity and competitiveness of our next generation. Moreover, more resources had been allocated to HKADC for conducting research and developing strategies on promotion of cultural exchange.

9. As regards whether there should be an administration-led or community-led arts policy, DS/HA considered that a balanced arts policy would require joint efforts of the Administration and the community. Apart from allocating more resources to HKADC, the Administration had encouraged and supported arts organisations to promote arts development. The recent pilot scheme of displaying works of local artists in Queensway Government Offices had demonstrated the co-operation of the Administration and the community in arts development.

10. Mr MA Fung-kwok remarked that the crucial point was not to increase resources but to have a wider perspective in formulating a cultural policy. He was concerned about the absence of a mechanism to co-ordinate a review of the relevant policy areas to incorporate a cultural perspective in the relevant areas. It would be important to achieve cost-effectiveness in the utilization of existing resources for culture and arts. For example, the overseas Economic and Trade Offices of Hong Kong (HKETOs) could also provide assistance to arts organisations participating in overseas cultural exchange activities. In response, DS/HA said that HAB had been playing the co-ordinating role in arts and cultural policies. HAB had already requested HKETOs to provide liaison assistance to overseas cultural exchange groups. The Chairman agreed with Mr MA that a review of the existing structure would be necessary and requested the Administration to provide a list showing the relevant bureaux, departments and organisations responsible for arts and cultural activities. DS/HA noted the suggestion.

11. Mr Ambrose CHEUNG acknowledged that the scope of culture was very wide and it would be difficult to devise a detailed plan covering each individual aspect. He agreed with the Chairman that it would be more important to have a theme or a unified approach in formulating a cultural policy. Referring members 7to the experience of the Urban Council (UC) in drawing up its Five-Year Plan, Mr CHEUNG informed members that UC had spent two and a half years in reviewing the scope of its responsibilities, identifying policy issues, formulating strategies and prioritizing objectives. A draft Five-Year Plan including specific proposals for individual aspect of cultural services was then compiled and issued for public consultation. Views of the arts community and the public were taken into account when finalizing the Five-Year Plan. In view of the existing fragmentation of responsibilities in the delivery of arts and culture, Mr Ambrose CHEUNG urged the Administration to take the lead in co-ordinating a review on the cultural structure in Hong Kong. He suggested that the Administration should start the review by examining and identifying the shortcomings or deficiencies of the existing structure, then proceed to draw up the policy direction, examine the resources required and formulate detailed plans for individual areas. He also urged the Administration to provide a consultation paper to the Subcommittee, similar to that for the new structure on health and food hygiene, describing the advantages and deficiencies of the existing structure. The Chairman also asked about the mechanism of co-ordination between the Administration and the two municipal councils from now until the establishment of a new structure on arts and culture.

12. In response, DS/HA said that the municipal councils had statutory responsibilities to provide cultural facilities and activities as part of the municipal services. A mechanism already existed for co-ordination among the Administration, two municipal councils and HKADC in the provision of cultural services, such as arrangements for Hong Kong's participation in international cultural exchange events. Due to constraints of the existing structure for the delivery of arts and sport services, there were problems such as unclear policies and duplication of resources. In this respect, HAB would make its best efforts to improve the co-ordination until the problems could be solved when a new institutional framework was set up as indicated in the Chief Executive's 1998 Policy Address. On members' suggestion of issuing a consultation document on arts structure, DS/HA said that the Administration had previously provided relevant information to members. He would gather and furnish more specific or concrete information to members if required. In this connection, Mr Ambrose CHEUNG asked the Administration to provide information on the structure on arts and culture in those overseas countries which the Administration had ready information. DS/HA undertook to provide the information as soon as possible.Adm

13. On the formulation of a cultural policy, Mr Andrew CHENG said that although the Administration had claimed that it did not have an overall cultural policy, it had adopted a low-key supportive approach in the development of arts and culture. However, the decision to abolish the two municipal councils as given in the Chief Executive's 1998 Policy Address would lead to a centralisation of powers in arts and culture. He hoped the Administration would give careful consideration to the issue before taking a decision. He further pointed out that the Chief Executive ' s Policy Address had emphasized on promoting the Chinese culture and heritage. While he appreciated the value of Chinese culture and heritage, he considered that a macro view should be adopted as there should not be any boundaries for arts and culture. He stressed that it would be more appropriate to nurture, rather than to impose on the community, the appreciation of Chinese culture and arts. He said that there had been concern about the Administration ' s intention to use promotion of Chinese culture as a tool to manipulate or control over the public.

14. DS/HA responded that it had always been the Administration's policy to encourage diversified arts development, but it was also important for the younger generation to know more about Chinese culture. He dismissed any speculation that the Administration intended to control arts and culture by centralizing all powers in this area. The review of district organisations would give an opportunity to solve existing problems in the co-ordination of policies and resources. He reiterated that the Administration would consult relevant parties on a plausible structure for arts and culture, and the formulation of a cultural policy would be considered after the re-organisation. The Chairman held the view that it would be essential to set out a cultural policy before deciding the institutional framework.

15. Mr MA Fung-kwok agreed that the review of district organisations would provide a good opportunity to devise a rational framework for arts and culture. He considered that the Administration should take the lead in co-ordinating a cultural policy which would meet the aspirations of arts organisations and the community. In this respect, he urged the Administration to produce a paper setting out clearly the mission and vision of a new structure, including the allocation of resources. He considered that the Administration should have an open mind in formulating a long-term policy to cover a wider spectrum of cultural activities. The Chairman added that the policy-making process should be open and transparent.

16. The Deputy Chairman said that culture and arts had long been neglected in the past, and many cultural bodies and arts organisations were dependent on government subsidies. Unlike many European countries and the United States of America, arts and culture in Hong Kong did not receive adequate attention in the community. Many arts organisations were therefore concerned about the future institutional framework for arts and culture in Hong Kong. He therefore urged the Administration to provide as soon as possible concrete proposals and the timetable for setting up the new structure.

17. In concluding the discussion, the Chairman said that the Subcommittee was much concerned about the cultural policy and the institutional framework for arts and culture. She stressed that proposals on a cultural policy and new structure should be open for public consultation, and the Administration should provide a paper for this purpose as soon as possible. DS/HA noted the comments and agreed to consider what additional information could be provided.Adm

IV. Meeting with the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC)
[LC Paper No. CB(2)548/98-99]

18. Referring to the briefing notes tabled at the meeting, Secretary-General of HKADC explained to members the present structure and operation of HKADC, and the appointment system for different arts interests to be represented on HKADC.

Allocation of funds

19. On the comparison of HKADC's Five-Year Plan and availability of funds, Secretary-General of HKADC stressed that the resources available was inadequate for implementation of the Five-Year Plan and that HKADC would require more funds to further its aims. Responding to Mr Andrew CHENG's enquiry on the allocation of funds, Chairman of HKADC explained that HKADC had spent only 8.72% of the total expenditure on administration costs. With regard to the project grants, he said that the calculation of 16.74% of arts administration expenses and 22.93% of publication expenses was based on all successful project funding proposals from arts organizations. He further clarified that the publication expenses were for the arts organizations rather than HKADC. He stressed that HKADC had done well in keeping the administration costs at a low level, when comparing with other statutory bodies.

Noting that HKADC's administration expenses amounted to about $1.3 million a year, Mr Andrew CHENG asked whether HKADC could further streamline its operation to reduce administration costs. In response, Secretary General of HKADC explained that the administration expenses covered the staff costs and operating costs. Referring to his 15 years' experience in public and private organizations, he assured members that the operation of HKADC was already the most effective. The HKADC had a rather small secretariat of 26 salaried staff members, providing services to 57 HKADC members. The staff received salaries ranging between $9000 and $75,000 a month. Chairman of HKADC said that as a statutory body, HKADC's employment terms would not be better off than those of the civil servants. Besides, all appointed and co-opted members of HKADC were not remunerated. It was only recently that HKADC started to consider granting honoraria to its members. At the request of members, he undertook to provide a detailed breakdown of the administration expenses of HKADC.HKADC

(Post-meeting note : The HKADC had provided a breakdown of its administration expresses and the information was circulated to members vide LC Paper No. CB(2)951/98-99.)

20. Mr Timothy FOK said that although HKADC had been able to keep its administration expenses at a low level, it should still make more efforts to leave as much money as possible to arts projects and arts organizations. On the funding of arts development projects, Secretary-General of HKADC said that during the initial stage of the establishment of HKADC, grants were mostly made to meet general recurrent expenses of arts organizations. Starting from 1996/97, HKADC and its committees had taken more initiatives to commission arts development projects and had increased considerably its funding in this area. Chairman of HKADC said that funds allocated to arts projects and arts development had increased at a much greater magnitude than that for administration expenses.

Review of district organizations

21. In response to Mr MA Fung-kwok's enquiry on HKADC's position on the Administration's review of district organizations, Chairman of HKADC said that a number of the HKADC had maintained unique views of their own about the review. Despite detailed deliberations, HKADC could not come up with concrete proposals on the reform of the arts structure. However, HKADC had identified eight expectations, as set out in its briefing notes for the meeting, for the Administration to consider in designing the new structure. HKADC had also forwarded a preliminary submission to the Subcommittee on long-term cultural policy. In addition, two consultancy studies were being commissioned to research on arts policy and implementation, and the arts administration framework in Hong Kong. HKADC would forward a copy of the reports to the Subcommittee for reference when they were available around the end of December 1998.HKADC

22. Responding to HKADC's eight expectations, Mr Ambrose CHEUNG asked whether these had taken into account the discussion of the Five-Year Plans of the municipal councils and the comments of arts professionals on the review of district organizations. Chairman of HKADC said that the eight expectations were drawn up in response to the Administration ' s decision to conduct a review on district organizations, without any specific arts structure in mind. He was aware of the municipal councils' Five-Year Plans and would coordinate with the municipal councils in arts development. In this respect, HKADC had set up a liaison group with the Provisional Regional Council. While there were plans to set up a similar mechanism with the Provisional Urban Council, the proposal had been shelved in view of recent developments.

23. Mr MA Fung-kwok expressed appreciation of the high quality paper on cultural policy produced by HKADC for the Subcommittee. He asked whether the Administration had further consulted HKADC in response to the latter ' s submission. Secretary-General of HKADC informed members that representatives of the Administration would attend the meeting of HKADC on 26 November 1998 to listen to HKADC's views. Chairman of HKADC added that the Secretary for Home Affairs or his representative was the ex-officio member of HKADC, and the Administration was therefore kept abreast of the views of HKADC. Responding to Mr MA, Chairman of HKADC said that he hoped HKADC could contribute to the design of the future arts structure.

24. Noting that HKADC had engaged professional opinion by means of consultancy studies to provide input to the future arts structure, Mr Ambrose CHEUNG asked HKADC whether it would support the suggestion of asking the Government to provide a public consultation paper on the future arts structure. Chairman of HKADC said that he would welcome public participation in the design of a new arts structure. In this connection, Secretary-General of HKADC added that HKADC would organize open forum for artists, interested parties and the public to give views on the future structure. The Chairman remarked that HKADC might need to encourage more members of the public to participate in its open forum which was usually attended by professional artists. Secretary-General of HKADC said that HKADC would increase publicity of its seminars and open forum through the media and publication of the gists of discussions. Responding to the Chairman ' s suggestion of publicizing through the electronic media such as Radio and Television Hong Kong, Secretary-General of HKADC said that HKADC had maintained close liaison with the Education & Culture Unit and Radio 4 of Radio Hong Kong to publicize activities of HKADC. The following measures were being taken by HKADC to increase the media coverage of culture and arts activities in Hong Kong:

- commissioning a consultancy study on the interface between mass media and promotion of arts and cultural activities

- sponsoring the literature and visual arts section in newspapers and periodicals

- lobbying for more air time of electronic media for arts and cultural programmes

- allocating more resources for Announcement of Public Interest

25. Responding to Mr Ambrose CHEUNG, Secretary-General of HKADC said that there were over a thousand arts organizations currently on the mailing list of HKADC, and they were notified of HKADC ' s activities regularly. The Chairman added that participation of individual citizens of Hong Kong would be even more important in the promotion of arts and culture.

26. The Deputy Chairman supported the work of HKADC and suggested that it should strengthen its activities and communication with the public. Chairman of HKADC considered that apart from providing resources for arts development, the Administration should also enhance the quality and competitiveness of the community. In this connection, he considered that a more clear-cut policy direction and coordination by the relevant policy bureau could complement the work of HKADC.

Grant assessment

27. The Chairman asked whether there were any objective assessment criteria or marking scheme for allocation of grants to arts projects and organizations. Chairman of HKADC said that the assessment was based on objective criteria and the decision was made by the relevant art committee comprising council members and co-opted members. HKADC was much concerned about the possible conflict of interest in allocation of grants, and the assistance of the Corruption Prevention Department of ICAC had been enlisted to further refine the assessment criteria. Secretary-General of HKADC added that most art committees of HKADC had adopted a point system for grant assessment, and the guidelines and priorities had been published for general information.

28. The Chairman expressed concern that the committee meetings of HKADC had spent considerable time on fund allocation, and suggested HKADC to further streamline the operation of grant assessment in view of the increase in applications. Representatives of HKADC noted the suggestion and undertook to consider what further improvements could be made in this respect. In response to the Chairman, Chairman of HKADC also undertook to provide information on the point system for members' information. (Post-meeting note : The HKADC had provided information on the point system which was circulated to members vide LC Paper No. CB(2)951 /98-99.)HKADC

29. The Chairman thanked representatives for attending the discussion.

VI. Date of next meeting

30. The Chairman suggested and Mr Ambrose CHEUNG indicated no objection that the Subcommittee could meet at about three-weekly intervals. Mr MA Fung-kwok was of the view that the Subcommittee could meet at a longer interval, and as and when necessary. The Deputy Chairman said that members could be notified of the dates of future meetings by circulars. The Chairman concluded and members agreed that the next meeting should be held on Friday, 20 November 1998 at 10:45 a.m. to discuss with the Administration the proposed institutional structure for arts and culture.

(Post-meeting note : With the concurrence of the Chairman, the next meeting was re-scheduled for Thursday, 26 November 1998 at 2:30 p.m.)

31. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 11:20 a.m.

Legislative Council Secretariat
8 February 1999