Cantonese opera to get boost from fund

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 August, 2005, 12:00am

A fund will be set up to offer financial assistance to small Cantonese opera troupes facing difficulties in staging performances at public theatres that require substantial cash up front.

The Cantonese Opera Development Fund, which welcomes donations from private organisations, interested parties and individuals, will be monitored by the government.

Stephen Chow Chun-kay, chairman of the Cantonese opera advisory committee and also executive chairman of the fund, said opera troupes that could not afford to pay fees when booking venues at government-owned theatres were eligible to apply for the fund.

All public theatres require organisers to pay their fees, which can be about $210,000 for a week's performances, four months in advance.

'Organisers enjoy more flexibility when booking the privately owned Sunbeam Theatre, which does not require them to pay so much money in advance,' Mr Chow said after a meeting with representatives of the Home Affairs Bureau yesterday. 'But it is difficult for the government to change booking terms at all public theatres only for Cantonese opera troupes, so we hope the fund will help them.'

Mr Chow said the fund would also support research and studies on Cantonese opera development, and sponsor programmes and events that promoted and sustained the art form.

The advisory committee yesterday also recommended the government explore the possibility of allowing the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong to offer co-operative guarantees for small Cantonese opera troupes so that they would not be burdened by the fees required for booking venues at public theatres.

Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs Vincent Fung Hao-yin said the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Architectural Services Department were studying a proposed renovation of Ko Shan Theatre.

'The Kowloon City District Council will be consulted about the project, which is expected to begin in 2008,' he said.

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department has been working on turning the government-owned theatre in Hunghom into an exclusive Cantonese opera venue.