The Hong Kong Arts Centre and Radio Television Hong Kong last night hosted a forum on the hotly debated consultation paper published last month by the high-powered Cultural and Heritage Commission (CHC). The event was supported by the Hong Kong Economic Journal and among those attending were CHC chairman Professor Chang Hsin-kang, CHC member Ada Wong, Arts Centre executive director Louis Yu as well as a gang of cultural page columnists and critics. Cynics were quick to conclude the function was a knee-jerk reaction to a slamming piece that was run by, yes, the Journal, which criticised the CHC document as no more than a pointless cultural affairs (rather than cultural policy) consultation paper - and a very bad one too. However, one organiser (who will remain nameless) told me the open forum had nothing to do with the Journal article. Rather, the evening was planned way in advance but it had simply taken ages to convince the notoriously elusive Chang to attend.
'Arts in public places' is catching on like wildfire. First, there was the Public Art Project in Yat Tung Estate in far-flung Tung Chung on Lantau Island. Then there is the on-going Para/Site project City Space - Mysterious Art Installation Inside The City, involving about 40 professional artists and students secretly installing their works in the gallery's neighbourhood on Po Yan Street, Sheung Wan. Even the Government had a go at it earlier this month when the Home Affairs Bureau, Government Property Agency and the Arts Development Council (ADC) jointly launched its 'Arts In Government Building Scheme'. Its first exhibition featured works by local and mainland children that were on show at the Queensway Government Offices. It's only a matter of time before private businesses jump on the bandwagon. Well, the trendy furniture/household goods store G.O.D. is already planning to use part of its new premises in Causeway Bay (due to open this summer) as a 'semi-permanent art space for local artists'. The company says: 'Every few months, we will ask different artists to produce a site-specific installation piece. We believe this is the best way to introduce art to the public because art in museums can be so unapproachable and irrelevant to daily life.' The first artist to be featured will be Kacey Wong who, unsurprisingly, is also the man behind the Para/Site project.
It's a tough life being a dancer in Hong Kong. A recent visit to DanceArt's office saw its artistic directors Francis Leung and Andy Wong completely snowed under with paperwork. Yes, it is time to fill in those detailed ADC one-year-grant application forms.
'One of the major drawbacks of receiving ADC funding is that we tend to spend more time on administrative work than being creative,' says Leung, whose company was the only dance group to receive a grant last year.
Fellow dancer Mandy Yim knows only too well the disadvantages of ADC funding. Two years ago, her company Y-Space successfully applied for $600,000 from the ADC. But she was rejected the following year, leaving her and husband and dance partner Victor Ma high and dry. 'We are not bothering to apply this year,' Yim says.
Besides, Ma seems to have embarked on a new career - as an actor. He recently appeared in an independent film called The Map Of Sex And Love, which screened at this year's Hong Kong International Film Festival.
His big-screen debut sparked controversy as he was involved in a sex scene steamy enough to make even Yim blush. But at a meet-the-audience session after the screening, Ma said he could have 'gone a bit further' despite the fact that he appeared starkers in the scene.