Bid to keep Sunbeam Theatre rejected

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 February, 2009, 12:00am

The government has rejected a call from legislators to preserve the Sunbeam Theatre after the new lease expires in three years.

Members of Legco's home affairs panel passed a motion yesterday to call for the government to conserve the North Point theatre, Hong Kong's only privately run venue for Cantonese opera.

Some legislators urged the government to buy the theatre from the landlord. But the government quickly rejected the call. Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing said using public money to buy the theatre was unrealistic.

'We did consider buying Sunbeam Theatre but the Leisure and Cultural Services Department already has a number of venues, some of which are dedicated to Cantonese opera,' Mr Tsang said.

'Now that the operator of Sunbeam Theatre has sorted out terms with the landlord, we have no intention of adding another government-run performing arts venue. I understand the landlord will take back the property in three years to redevelop it. In the next three years we will focus on making the Ko Shan Theatre into a major Cantonese opera venue.'

It is understood that the new lease for the Sunbeam Theatre will be signed next Wednesday. The monthly rent will increase from HK$200,000 to between HK$600,000 and HK$700,000. Mr Tsang said subsidies would be provided through the Arts Development Council to help Cantonese opera troupes meet the costs of hiring the theatre.

The council said a new subsidy scheme was still being developed and it was hoped Cantonese opera performers would participate in the discussion.