ARTS

Street performers want somewhere to call home

Artists who throng Mong Kok street call on government to lend a hand, not restrict them

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 August, 2013, 5:33am

Street artists want more space to perform and sell their artwork and say the government's policies are undermining development of the arts in the city.

The call comes amid rising complaints about noise from those living near the Mong Kok pedestrian zone, a favourite venue for a growing number of buskers and street artists. The district council is now discussing limiting the zone's opening hours.

We are not asking for a subsidy from the government, we just want it not to interfere with us and give us space. That would be helping us

A group of performers is urging the government to introduce a licensing system so they can regulate the situation instead of imposing restrictions.

"It would be arresting what we have achieved over several years of effort. It may not be a career exactly, but it is our dream," said Chan Kim-hung, 47, who has been performing with his band on Sai Yeung Choi Street for the past few years.

The band has a loyal group of fans who travel to see them.

"We are not asking for a subsidy from the government, we just want it not to interfere with us and give us space. That would be helping us," Chan said.

He said some of the artists were facing prosecutions based on the Public Order Ordinance and laws against begging and loitering.

Chan's band and others bring sound level meters to monitor their performances and keep noise levels within the Environmental Protection Department's restrictions.

Another performer, Lo Kam-wing, 50, said he had built a career from street performances.

The former mainstream music producer quit the business in 2000 and started singing in the streets to sell and promote his songs. He lets the public decide how much they want to pay for a CD. In 2½ years he has sold more than 5,000 CDs.

The Civic Party will be holding a street carnival for artists to perform and display their artwork on Great George Street in Causeway Bay on Sunday at 1.30pm.