Art auction will go on despite school's reprieve

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 11:23pm


A student-initiated art auction for funds to keep Baptist University's visual arts academy at its present site in a Kai Tak heritage building will go ahead tomorrow, even though the government has allowed the academy to stay for another year.

Students of the Academy of Visual Arts (AVA) say the issue is unresolved and resources are needed for a possibly prolonged battle in 12 months.

Raising AVA Saving AVA, on the campus at the former Royal Air Force station, will offer 76 lots of artworks donated by students, alumni, and some of Hong Kong's top artists.

Well-known contributors include Wilson Shieh, Lam Tung-pang, Pak Sheung-chuen and Lee Kit.

The auction was organised initially to raise HK$3 million so the academy could pay the HK$300,000 a month that the Government Property Agency wanted after the lease expires this month. The university has been paying HK$50,000.

On Wednesday, the government said it would temporarily allocate the site to the Education Bureau from September 1, so the academy could pay the lower rent for another year. But it will have to submit a fresh proposal in order to stay afterwards.

'Twelve months later we will face the same situation again,' second-year student Amy Chan Nga-man said yesterday. 'We will use the proceeds to set up a foundation for future campus development.

Art critic Ada Wong Ying-kay, who will serve as an auctioneer tomorrow, said the AVA issue was a result of the unequal treatment of visual arts and performing arts in the government's cultural policy.

'The Academy for Performing Arts (APA) enjoys great facilities at a prime location. Visual-arts training also requires a specific space and equipment, and this historic site is perfect,' Wong said.

She pointed out that while the APA, with its campus in Wan Chai North, received HK$236.2 million a year directly from the Home Affairs Bureau, the AVA was only one of the many schools under Baptist University dependent on the University Grants Committee.

The grade-one historic site was temporarily leased to the university when the visual-arts academy was inaugurated in 2005, taking in 40 first-year students.

The academy was to have moved to the university's new 10-storey Communication and Visual Arts Building after the lease expired at the end of this month.

But Chan said students and technicians felt the space did not meet their needs.

The university said it had consulted teachers and experts on the design of the new building.

University council chairman Wilfred Wong Ying-wai said he appreciated students' efforts to save the campus, but the university would have to present justification to the grants committee if it wanted to use the new building and leave the AVA at the Kai Tak campus.


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