Anson Chan

Fringe Club makeover finally on the cards after 26 years, thanks to HK$3m donation

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 April, 2011, 12:00am


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It's been a long time coming, but Central arts hub, the Fringe Club, is finally getting a makeover in July. But before the refit was approved, honorary treasurer Anson Chan had to step in with a HK$3 million donation to top up the non-profit's operating budget.

Chan dedicated the family donation to the memory of his late mother, a strong supporter of the arts, at the naming of the Anita Chan Ling Lai Gallery, the Fringe's main gallery, on Wednesday.

'Sometimes donations are born out of necessity,' Chan (second right) said. 'I noticed the year-long delay in the government's approval of Jockey Club funds for the restoration of the Fringe Club building. The delay effectively created an operating budget deficit for the organisation. So, with gentle prodding from Wailee [Chow, chairwoman of the Fringe board of directors, far left] and Benny [Chia Chun-heng, second left], I've come to realise the importance for my family and I to step up and bridge this deficit.'

Fringe Club director Chia said that when the club was established in 1984, 'we were technically squatting in the building, so the restoration project is actually about 26 years overdue.'

Chan, who has been on the Fringe board since 1996, said that despite its small physical size, the Fringe Club had a large cultural footprint in the community.

'Hong Kong retains its international status not because of the abundance of so-called patriotic art, but because of places like this that continue to serve as platforms for all forms of non-mainstream art, which encourages cutting-edge thought and dialogue and sets us apart from other Asian cities.'

The restoration of the Fringe Club will happen in phases from July until next March, during which some of the club will remain open for exhibitions and performances. Chia has also fleshed out the club's 2011-2012 programme, which involves participation in the Venice Biennale and collaborations with other spaces, including some in Guangzhou and Shanghai.