'Talks are essential' on retail art space

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 June, 2012, 12:00am

The chief executive-elect should consult developers on his proposal that they must set aside space in new retail complexes for arts and cultural facilities, the chief of one of the four main property empires says.

Adrian Cheng Chi-kong, executive director and joint general manager of New World Development, said yesterday the government would need to provide a more detailed plan on how it wanted developers to allocate land for cultural use.

'Sometimes the land is not large enough to accommodate or cater for many functions; if it's too small, then [an art space] loses its purpose and effect. I think more consultation is needed not only with the artists but also with the developers,' said Cheng, who launched his K11 Art Mall in 2009 to promote local art through commissions and exhibitions.

'At the moment, artists lack space for performances, workshops and exhibitions, that's why I think it's important that space should be increased. But in a land sale, if the lot is small, would that be effective? This needs consultation. But I am quite neutral to [the idea].'

In his election manifesto, chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying proposed that requirements for arts facilities could be included in the land lease for future commercial projects such as shopping malls. Subsidised and community art firms, or exhibitions and shops selling cultural goods could use the space.

Cheng agreed the public and private sectors needed to co-operate to help build an arts and cultural sector.

'Local artists can't rely purely on government funding or corporate donations, which are very minimal in Hong Kong when compared with countries like South Korea [and the US], where most major corporation have an arts foundation. This city doesn't have many, so corporate involvement in the arts is lacking,' he told the South China Morning Post.

'The new government will need to come up with a sound road map on how corporations can help. For instance, should there be a tax exemption if a business supports the arts in a certain way?'

While tax breaks on corporate charities may not be as big an incentive as they are overseas given Hong Kong's low business rate, Cheng said they would still encourage private enterprises to promote a more healthy 'art eco-system'.

'If you are going to have a charity anyway, why not have a foundation that supports the arts?' said the grandson of property tycoon Cheng Yu-tung, who founded New World in 1970.

'If every enterprise did that, then you'd have the supply, demand, talents and intermediaries to build a creative industry. We don't have one now as there isn't enough support.'

With several New World properties on the same stretch as the Cultural Centre and Museum of Art on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, Cheng said it had not ruled out the possibility of adding more cultural amenities.


The number of artist bloggers on the K11 Art Mall website, who post messages about upcoming events or their work