West Kowloon Cultural District

Open meetings urged for cultural zone body

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 February, 2008, 12:00am

Board meetings of the authority that will run West Kowloon Cultural District should be open to the public unless they touch on sensitive business-related matters, lawmakers argued yesterday.

Some legislators also questioned the prospects of the mega-museum known as M+, as the government had not yet decided which organisation would be responsible for owning and handling collections, which often take years to build up.

Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs Esther Leung Yuet-yin said the authority should be given a free hand to decide whether meetings should be opened.

In the Legislative Council's subcommittee on West Kowloon Cultural District Development, James To Kun-sun of the Democratic Party said it should be made clear that board meetings would be open unless the chairman thought sensitive issues were involved.

'If the authority can prescribe the circumstances [under which] open meetings can be held, equally they can prescribe the circumstances not to make their meetings open. There is no way we can ensure that they will open the meetings' unless specified by law.

But Ms Leung said opening the board meetings was not a common requirement by other high-quality cultural facilities overseas.

'Many famous artists do not want to have the value of their works or the reward for their performances disclosed. Invitations to popular performers are usually sent two and three years in advance, and they are confidential information, as other venues will want to scoop them.'

Meanwhile, Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee of the Civic Party was worried that no one would be willing to donate a collection to M+ without a clear policy on how it would be handled.

Ms Leung said the authority, once established, would decide whether there would be an independent body to look after the operation of M+ and its collections. The government proposes to set aside HK$1 billion to acquire collections for M+.

A bill on establishing the authority will be tabled for its first reading on Wednesday.