Another long catalogue of waste - Chinese Orchestra

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 April, 2010, 12:00am

The Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra 'categorically dismissed' allegations made by the Director of Audit, who said it failed to keep its books clearly when giving away free tickets, and treated sponsors to concerts with taxpayers' money.

The orchestra issued a statement, giving reasons for the problems pointed out by the auditor, including chaotic records on ticket distribution and inadequate working hours of artistic staff.

Director of Audit Benjamin Tang Kwok-bun told the South China Morning Post it was the first time the department had checked an arts organisation.

He said the Chinese Orchestra was chosen because more than 80 per cent of its income came from taxpayers. The orchestra received a subsidy of HK$53.1 million in 2008-09, accounting for 82 per cent of its total income.

The auditor found the orchestra spent, in the same period, HK$830,000 to buy back 3,321 of its own concert tickets to give to guests including government officials, diplomats, artists, the media and its staff.

The amount, equalling 13 per cent of ticket proceeds, was counted as the orchestra's income rather than expenditure. The audit also found that the orchestra, in holding two private concerts for commercial sponsors, was unable to cover the full cost of the performances, as the sponsorship was lower than the cost.

The auditor also pointed out 20 of the 80-strong artistic staff worked 533 hours less than the annual requirement of 1,236 hours.