Artists told to brush up skills of survival

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 June, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 June, 2001, 12:00am

Artists have been urged to leave their ivory towers and embrace the market by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, which yesterday unveiled its plan for the next three years.

However, the move to popularise the arts was met with scepticism by some who fear it could edge out avant-garde artists.

Council chairman Dr Patrick Ho Chi-ping said it would pump money into education, facilities and research in coming years. But the council would tighten direct funding for local arts groups.

Dr Ho said groups and individual artists must learn to support themselves. 'Artists must improve their survival skills. We want to change our job from simply a funding agency to an arts development body,' he said.

Albert Lam Chi-chiu, chief executive of the council, said it would launch business seminars to teach artists how to market themselves, adding it would be stricter in granting direct funding. 'The applicants need to submit a proposal to us. The proposal will be examined by experts from the relevant fields,' he said.

Dr Ho said the council would continue to support arts which lacked market value but were considered important, and said he hoped the move could see local groups thrive on their own. 'Let arts enter the ordinary households and become part of our everyday life. Arts should not be decorative or just as high culture. The arts do not only concern artists, they also concern society as a whole,' he said.

The council received $140 million in funding this year. Dr Ho said most of the money would be used on education, providing cultural exchanges and improving facilities.

A spokesman for the group DanceArt feared the plan would strangle the creativity of local artists, and small organisations might be unable to survive.

Mathias Woo Yan-wai, a member of theatre group Zuni Icosahedron, said the council should focus on helping avant-garde and experimental artists. But he said the direction of the plan was right because the arts should be linked with society's intellectual development.