Arts boss foreshadows Sunbeam Theatre deal

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 January, 2009, 12:00am

A deal is expected to be struck this month between the government and the owners of the Sunbeam Theatre in North Point in a plan to keep the popular Cantonese Opera venue open until an alternative is available.

The venue had faced closure because of a drastic increase in rent but the government now plans to increase subsidies to the opera groups using the theatre while negotiating a rent they can afford.

Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Carrie Yau Tsang Ka-lai said the government could not use public money to subsidise the theatre's rent directly.

But with extra funding, the groups should be able to afford the new rent until the Xiqu Centre opens in the West Kowloon Cultural District in 2015.

The present rent is HK$200,000 a month but the landlord has been asking for HK$800,000 after the contract ends next month. A government source said earlier it estimated the market rent at HK$400,000.

Speaking at a media gathering yesterday Mrs Yau, who is involved in the negotiations, gave no details of the likely rent or planned subsidies. But she said she expected a deal to be struck with the landlord next month.

Closure of the Sunbeam Theatre next month would leave the groups without a suitable home before the West Kowloon theatre opened.

On the progress of developing the arts hub in West Kowloon, Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs Cathy Chu Man-ling said 67 candidates were vying for the post of executive director of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, including engineers and people from the arts sector.