Hiring of arts boss 'was done properly'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 May, 2012, 12:00am


The man chosen to lead Hong Kong's top performing arts academy impressed the selection panel with his experiences in restructuring educational institutions, the South China Morning Post has learnt.

But Academy of Performing Arts (APA) council members outside the five-member panel knew little of how Adrian Walter was selected, sources close to the academy said.

The recruitment process has come under scrutiny after it emerged that Walter was embroiled in controversy relating to a restructuring of the music school at Australian National University, of which he was head. He resigned from his post as head of the music school on Monday, but reports have emerged that he was 'instructed' to take leave, starting on Thursday last week, after coming under fire from colleagues for his handling of a restructuring of the school.

It is understood the panel members were council chairman William Leung Wing-cheung; deputy chairman Fredric Mao Chun-fai; treasurer Charles Chow Chan-lum; deputy secretary for home affairs Avia Lai Wong Shuk-han; and Open University president John Leong Chi-yan.

Mao, a veteran theatre director, said the recruitment process was done properly. 'We were looking not just at a candidate's artistic merits but also his experience and knowledge [of education] as well as his leadership,' Mao said. 'And Walter demonstrated his leadership and management sense.'

Mao said Walter was the panel's unanimous first choice.

He said Walter had referenced his experience in restructuring institutions during the interview.

The APA is in the midst of a review of its role and future direction, but the results have yet to be published. The institution is understood to have been looking for a candidate who had the experience needed to lead the implementation of the review.

The panel first spoke to Walter in a video conference on March 2, and chose him as its favoured candidate on April 17. The appointment was put to the council on Friday, the same day Walter arrived in Hong Kong to meet staff, students and alumni.

One member of the academy's council, who was not part of the recruitment process, said members had not been fully informed. 'We have been told about the progress but we didn't know about the details,' the council member said.

The member acknowledged that confidentiality was an issue in the recruitment process, but questioned whether leaving the appointment to a small group was the right approach, and whether more people from the culture sector should be included in the selection panel. 'The future culture bureau will have to look into this, to find out if this way of recruitment is right for cultural and arts organisations,' the member said.

However, the Home Affairs Bureau said the APA had kept council members informed about the recruitment. 'We will continue to keep in touch with the academy on any further developments on this matter,' a bureau spokesman said.