Arts boss says big office made financial sense

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 May, 2009, 12:00am

The Arts Development Council saved the taxpayers money by moving into premises that were bigger than it needed at the time, chairman Ma Fung-kwok said yesterday.

Mr Ma, responding to criticism by the Director of Audit, told legislators that more than 280 square metres of extra space in its new Quarry Bay office would allow for expansion and avoid another move that would have cost up to HK$7 million. He told the Public Accounts Committee that the five-year tenancy agreement had proved a prudent step. The council moved out of its offices at Sheung Wan last May. The new offices are around 1,100 square metres, but the Director of Audit said the council needed 800 square metres.

The chief executive of the council, Louis Yu Kwok-lit, said he expected Hong Kong would see a large arts expansion. Anything not in use could be made available to support the activities of arts groups.

Legislators have expressed concern about the poor attendance of council members at meetings. On two occasions, decisions on how to allocate funds were made without enough people to establish a quorum. Mr Yu said that in those two instances the secretariat failed to notify the chairman. He said that the council had ratified the funding decisions.

Mr Ma said the poor attendance was a result of busy schedules and irregular hours of work, involving film projects or work out of town. But he said that members could still contribute to the work of the council.