Overseas arts hub director replaced

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 October, 2010, 12:00am

In a move that took some by surprise yesterday, the only overseas director of the West Kowloon arts hub project has been replaced.

Japanese museum curator Yuko Hasegawa was one of only a few board members not reappointed to new two-year terms. No reason was given for her departure.

One board member was surprised. 'She was a hard-working and outspoken member,' he said. He hoped she would continue to give advice on the project. But art critic John Batten was not surprised. As the only overseas board member, she might have felt isolated and found it difficult to adapt to the city's rhythm, he said.

Retired architect and painter Raymond Fung Wing-kee replaces Hasegawa on the board of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, whose chairman is Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen. The board is overseeing the development of a HK$21.6 billion cluster of performance and exhibition venues, luxury flats and shops on a 56-hectare site reclaimed from Victoria Harbour.

A government spokeswoman said Hasegawa, chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, did not have her term renewed for personal reasons. Hasegawa could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Hasegawa's name was nowhere to be seen in the government announcement of board members for the coming two years, which would have been expected to include an expression of gratitude for the service of departing board members.

The authority's treatment of her departure was in sharp contrast to its heralding of her appointment two years ago, when the authority highlighted her curatorial achievements in Japan.

Board member and Arts Development Council chairman Ma Fung-kwok said he did not know Hasegawa's situation, but he praised her dedication.

Hasegawa attended eight of 11 board meetings held between October 2008 and June, more than some board members based in Hong Kong.

Batten, the art critic, said there was nothing wrong with Fung's choice. It was the board that was problematic, he said, as it had too many members. The board comprises 19 members, including three government representatives.

'It's always going to be political. Members with no arts background aren't necessarily a bad thing ... But we only have former bureaucrats sitting in these boards,' he said.