We can't afford to promote artists, says manager

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 January, 2009, 12:00am

The company managing the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre says it has no spare money for publicity and the artists have to promote themselves.

Executive director Eddie Lui Fung-ngar said the centre, which runs on rent from tenants and performance venue users, hopes to break even in four or five years. The centre recorded a deficit of HK$3 million in its first year.

Baptist University provided more than HK$2 million and a HK$1.5 million loan to the centre before it opened.

Lui, a painter and sculptor, said the money had been spent on festivals and exhibitions and the financial turmoil had deprived the centre of sponsorship.

'We have to strike a balance,' he said. 'After all we can't overpublicise the centre because too many visitors will disturb artists' work. But of course we need some visitors to make the place financially sustainable.'

Lui maintained that the building was intended to provide affordable workspace for artists, many of whom had full-time jobs and might not be in their studios all the time. The centre could not force them to open their units, but the board might consider a clause in future rental contracts to require studios to open for a certain amount of time, he said.

He disagreed that the centre had few visitors, saying at least 900 had come to a weekend programme in October. He was unable to give figures for other weekends but estimated 500 to 700 people came on average.

On the complaint about unusable public space, the director said the atrium was a passage, not a venue for individual artists except for activities in collaboration with the centre.

'It's a matter of public safety. Whenever there are activities, we have to get staff to manage and clean up the space. This costs money,' he said. Artists could use the smaller podium on the second floor, he said.