For discussion on
14 September 1998

LegCo Panel on Home Affairs
Long Term Culture Policy


This paper sets out the current thinking of Government on culture policy and provides information on the work of Government, Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC) and the two Provisional Municipal Councils (PMCs) particularly in the promotion of international cultural exchange and the promotion of arts in schools and the community.


2.Culture?covers a broad spectrum of activities, of which the arts is a major component. All along, Government is fully committed to the promotion and development of arts in Hong Kong. In this context, our arts policy is to create an environment which is conducive to the freedom of expression and artistic creation and which encourages participation in such activities. Government sees its role as a catalyst, promoting and encouraging performing groups and art forms through the provision of financial support (mainly through the HKADC), education (through the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA)) and publicity. Government is also a provider of infrastructural support in terms of building venues. To this end, the Government endeavours to develop a partnership with the major arts bodies including the two PMCs, HKADC and HKAPA etc. However, the role of Government is limited as the bulk of the public financial resources devoted to the arts (including performance venues) are under the jurisdiction of the two PMCs.


3. Heritage preservation and promotion forms another important part of our cultural activities. On the advice of the statutory Antiquities Advisory Board (AAB) and with the efforts of the Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO), we have endeavoured to preserve Hong Kong's cultural heritage and promote public interest in it. So far 67 monuments were declared, 39 historical buildings were restored, 71 archaeological excavations were organised and 57 heritage publications were produced.

4. To mark the 20th anniversary of the enactment of the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance (Cap. 53), the AAB, the Lord Wilson Heritage Trust and the AMO joined hands to implement the Year of Heritage project, which consisted of a programme of promotional and educational activities during 1997, including an International Conference on Heritage Education?

5. Work in the protection of cultural relics has also contributed to better understanding of Chinese history and culture, and the strengthening of cultural and historical ties between Hong Kong and our motherland. One important landmark of our heritage preservation is the archaeological excavation at Tung Wan Tsai North, Ma Wan, which was selected as one of the Ten Most Important New Archaeological Discoveries in China in 1997. The significant findings at Tung Wan Tsai North further prove that Hong Kong has long and profound cultural and historical ties with the Mainland. It also heightens our understanding of Chinese history and culture.

6. In this connection, we are fully aware that following the reunification with our motherland, we need to go through a gradual process of getting to know our national history and culture so as to achieve a sense of belonging. To this end, we have to rely on civic and school education. We encourage young people to learn to appreciate our traditional culture through the formal and informal curricula. Exchange activities are organized to enrich students?knowledge of our country. Civic education programmes such as Hong Kong, Our Home?and the 1998 Summer Youths Programmes are launched by the Home Affairs Bureau to promote stronger public understanding of our own community and culture.

7. In parallel, the two PMCs have been promoting Chinese culture through their activities. The exhibition on Germs of China's Cultural Relics organized by the PUC last year and the coming exhibition on Ancient Chinese Inventions?to be staged in late September to January 1999 are examples of efforts in this direction.

8. Besides, Government encourages HKAPA to offer a Chinese Traditional Theatre?course in the 1999-2000 school year to ensure the conservation and continued development of the Chinese traditional operatic arts in Hong Kong.


9. Government fully recognises that international cultural exchange activities will contribute to the development of a diversified arts scene in Hong Kong. Funding support to such activities is mainly provided through the HKADC.

10. The HKADC supports cultural exchange activities by providing project grants and aims to formulate a plan for cultural exchange by the end of the year. It will commission research study on cultural exchange and consider ways to proactively promote local arts to other countries, including designation of a specific budget to support cultural exchange projects starting 1999.

11. The Provisional Urban Council (PUC) supports international cultural exchange by staging international arts festivals such as the Festival of Asian Arts and Musicarama. Renowned overseas performing artists and groups are invited to perform in Hong Kong. PUC also finances overseas tours of the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, Hong Kong Dance Company and Hong Kong Repertory Theatre. Besides, PUC organizes visiting exhibitions from overseas to enhance understanding of international arts among local arts community. Exhibitions of Hong Kong are also sent overseas to promote local artworks.

12. Although the Provisional Regional Council (ProRC) does not have any on-going international arts or cultural exchange programme with any country or overseas organisations other than those participated by the Music Office, it frequently participates in overseas cultural exchanges in response to invitation. The ProRC also presents overseas artists on a year-round basis, in particular during theme festivals. To help realise exchange tours, ProRC presents pre-tour or post- tour performances for performing arts groups when the opportunity arises. The performance fees will help fund the production or touring expenses.

13. The Music Office managed by the two PMCs regularly sends youth orchestras/bands/choirs to perform overseas in cultural exchange tours and receives visiting groups as an integral part of its music education services.

14. The eight University Grant Committee-funded institutions have also been very active in organising international exchange programmes which include summer schools, exhibitions, annual visiting scholars programmes, inviting renowned international scholars to give talks at seminars and organising international conferences on various arts and cultural subjects to broaden the views of their students and to expose them to other cultures.


15. The objective of promoting the arts in primary and secondary schools is to help the students develop their creativity and aesthetic awareness, and stimulate their appreciation of the achievements in the field of arts, both local and overseas. This objective is achieved through both the formal and informal curriculum, covering performing arts, visual arts as well as literary arts. Arts elements are included in the formal curricula of a number of subjects, in particular, Chinese and English Language, Art and Craft, Art and Design, Music and Physical Education. Extra-curricular activities (e.g. school choirs, painting clubs, and creative writing clubs, etc.) as well as inter-school events (such as the Schools Music and Speech Festivals and the Schools Dance Festival etc.) will also help realise the objective. The Quality Education Fund contributes to the objective by providing schools with an additional source of funding upon application for cultural activities e.g. bands and orchestras, martial arts and lion dance activities, dancing, singing etc.

16. In promoting arts education in schools, the Education Department provides assistance to schools, including providing teaching materials; assisting schools in designing their own subject curricula; disseminating information regarding good practices on the promotion of arts education; running in-service training programmes to help teachers keep abreast of the latest trends of arts education and teaching methodology and providing refund for in-service teacher training courses.

17. For the tertiary sector, each of the eight University Grant Committee-funded institutions has its own programmes for promoting arts and culture which contribute to whole-person education. Such programmes are implemented in one or more of the following forms:

  1. academic programmes and research

  2. extra-curricular activities such as cultural or arts festivals

  3. museums and purpose-built cultural venues

  4. administrative and advisory bodies

  5. international exchange activities

Some of the institutions have established committees with external cultural and arts bodies.

18. Apart from programmes or activities of individual institutions, the eight UGC-funded institutions established the Joint Committee on Culture Development in Tertiary Institutions with the following objectives -

  1. advocate arts and cultural development in tertiary institutions in Hong Kong;

  2. enhance cultural exchanges among tertiary institutions; and

  3. plan, co-ordinate and organise cross-institutional cultural programmes.

19. The HKADC has adopted the concept of 'One Art for Life * as its direction pointing to the way ahead for the development of arts education. The HKADC aims to develop and promote arts education within formal education and in the community. The main tasks include -

  1. fostering greater recognition and acceptance of the arts as a necessary component of a complete education;

  2. seeking support to achieve integration of arts education into the core curriculum; and

  3. urging the universities to review their admission criteria to give recognition to excellence in non-academic subjects, including arts subjects.

A three-year pilot project of Artists-in-Schools Programme?targeted at senior secondary students has been launched by ED and HKADC to implement the concept of One Art for Life?.

20. In order to intensify an awareness of arts and culture amongst youths and to cultivate their interest in arts, free school performances and outreach activities are arranged by PUC's performing companies. A student Cultural Ambassor Scheme has been launched and travelling exhibitions are arranged to schools.


21. The HKADC has laid down its 5-Year Plan in 1996. One of its goals is to increase the access of the arts through widening the base for appreciation and participation in the arts through media publicity, information, formal and community education. HKADC supports arts promotion projects mainly through providing project grants to local artists or arts organisations. Priority will be given to activities which contribute directly to the promotion and development of the arts in Hong Kong. Each arts committee sets aside a specific budget for community projects. Starting from this month onwards, a bilingual multi-disciplinary magazine titled 'Xpression' would be published (on a fortnightly basis) with HKADC funding and distributed freely together with the South China Morning Post. The objective of the magazine is to increase the exposure of the arts and nurture a healthy environment for arts criticism.

22. The PUC acknowledges the importance of arts education in enhancing the publics ability to appreciate the arts. It hopes to establish a participatory culture?to give a fair chance for all members of the public to appreciate and participate in the arts which should be available to all corners and strata of society. The Artist-in-Residence Scheme launched by PUC covers a wide range of educational and development activities of different artforms. The Scheme allows art groups to use community arts centres as their home base to develop and promote their creative works and education programmes with district communities.

23. The ProRC is also keen on pursuing its audience-building activities in order to generate interests in the arts of the local community, with a view of enriching the quality of life. All aspects of the ProRC's provision of cultural services aim at promoting the arts in the community. Apart from presenting Artists-in-residence, educational arts and culture programmes and foyer performances at civic centres, the Pro RC has introduced a Cultural Ambassadors Scheme and invited artist/groups to produce outreach activities for participation by district communities as well as special touring programmes for outdoor performance. The ProRC will also launch a Public Arts Scheme and work together with professional artists and the local community in commissioning or procuring works of art for display at public venues under the management of the Pro RC.


24. As culture?is an all-embracing term, a culture policy, if any, would necessarily have an impact on a wide spectrum of areas including education, housing, city planning, broadcasting and information, social welfare, industrial and economic development etc. The definition is so broad that it is not plausible for Government to formulate a culture policy which affects every aspect of life.

25. On the other hand, the Government sees the need to continue playing a supportive role in arts development and to encourage the provision of a rich, colourful and varied arts environment, blending the best of East and West. We will ensure that the social environment remains conducive to diversified arts development, encourage creativity and promote understanding of our national heritage.


* One Art of Life - is a process which:

  1. nurtures the appreciation of and instil interest in a variety of artforms;

  2. encourages the engagement of at least one form of art to a varying degree of depth and to develop a life-long interest in the arts;

  3. provides ample exposure to the arts through the formal curriculum and extra-curricular activities;

  4. combines knowledge and theory in the arts, skills training, arts appreciation and cultivation of creativity and aesthetic sensitivity; and

  5. integrates the arts into everyday life for the improvement of the quality of life for the community and for the continuation and development of the cultural environment.