Hospital art scheme comes under threat

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 August, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 August, 1996, 12:00am

A scheme to brighten the bleak walls of hospitals with sunny murals, paintings and framed artwork will be scrapped by December unless new funding is found.

The Art in Hospitals project, which began in 1994, has adorned a radiotherapy unit with pastoral scenes, hung art sealed in frames in the sterile burns unit of the Prince of Wales Hospital and created characters in children's wards.

But its Arts Development Council funding will end in November, and the Hospital Authority has rejected a council offer to split the project's costs.

Project co-ordinator Helen Sum Yuen-ching said the scheme cost $300,000 a year to run. Ms Sum and volunteers helped each hospital find sponsors to foot individual project bills for paint and supplies.

'Volunteers do the murals,' she said.

'A ward manager of the paediatric ward at Prince of Wales told me children preferred to live in the ward with murals, and she said the recovery rate of those children was shortened.' Arts Development Council visual arts committee secretary Annie Ho Nim-chee said the committee had funded the scheme for almost two years.

'The committee recognised that it was a successful programme and had good achievements among artists and the public, but we felt the Hospital Authority should help to support it,' Ms Ho said.

'If the Hospital Authority supplies 50 per cent, we will supply 50 per cent.' Hospital Authority spokesman Alexander Wong Ka-chiu said staff were loathe to see the beautification of wards end but were unable to help with running costs.

'We really appreciate what Art in Hospitals does for us . . . It's been welcomed by patients and hospital staff.

'As a public body, we cannot finance the administration costs of another organisation. We are trying to identify other financial sources for the project.'