Low interest and poor attendance at arts council meetings criticised
Vivienne Chow and Gary Cheung
The flawed governance of the Arts Development Council and the arts community's poor understanding of the process to nominate council members came under fire in the latest Audit Commission's report.
The report criticised the Home Affairs Bureau, which oversees the nomination of council members, for failing to publicise the nomination process among the arts community, many of whom were not registered as voters.
The commission also urged the council to closely monitor members' attendance at committee meetings, highlighting the four committees on arts promotion, arts support, review and strategy. The attendance rate for council meetings last year, and those of the four committees, ranged between 69 and 76 per cent.
Some members who did not turn up did not give prior notice of their absence, as required by the council, the report said.
The report also noted that half of the 24 council members had not submitted their declaration of interests for last year, as required by the council, after their appointment for the term from last year to 2010.
In response, the Home Affairs Bureau said it would consider setting aside a bigger publicity budget for the nomination exercise, while the council said it would begin to remind members to attend meetings.
Meanwhile, the Audit Commission also took issue with the low attendance of some members of the Quality Education Fund. The attendance rate of three members of its dissemination and promotion sub-committee ranged between 29 and 47 per cent from 2002 to last year.
The commission report also noted that the interval between meetings of the fund's steering committee between May 2006 and January 2007 was 81/2 months.
According to guidelines for public bodies issued by the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants, meetings should be organised at least once every six months.
Established in 1998, the fund allocates money to projects promoting quality education in schools. Up to August last year, the fund had approved HK$3.62 billion in grants.