Artists demand freedom from interference

Petition calls for review of government policy after alleged censorship of ballet sequence

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 December, 2013, 4:49pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 2:38pm

More than 250 artists and arts groups have signed a petition urging the government to review its arts policy, as part of a campaign to protect autonomy and creative freedom.

Campaign organisers also want the government to introduce guidelines that will prevent interference in the creative process by the management of arts organisations.

The campaign was prompted by controversy in October over alleged "political censorship" of a production by the Hong Kong Ballet and Germany's Ballett Dortmund.

A sequence in which dancers in Red Guard uniforms were shown waving copies of Mao Zedong's "little red book" was cut from performances of The Dream of the Red Chamber after the premiere amid claims of political interference. Zhang Xiaoming, head of Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong, reportedly attended the premiere.

Members of the Legislative Council's home affairs panel meet today to discuss the opera affair.

Dr Lo Wai-luk, one of the petition organisers, said he was pleased by the response since the campaign was launched in the middle of last week.

Those who have signed the petition include some of the big names in local arts circles - art critic Oscar Ho Hing-kay, tenor David Quah, theatre director Dymo Leung Wing-nang, author and social activist Cally Yu Yeuk-mui, and experimental composer Kung Chi-shing.

"A trend seems to be developing that the management of the arts groups are getting more fond of having a hand in the production and the hiring of artists," said Lo, an associate professor at Baptist University's Academy of Film. "It is the last thing we like to see."

"We believe the management should respect the freedom and autonomy of artistic creation."

Lo said many large-scale arts groups relied on subsidies from the government. "In a sense, these groups should also be accountable to the public and their operations should become more transparent," he added.

In a submission to be tabled at tomorrow's panel meeting, the Hong Kong Ballet said the decision to suspend the section of the show referencing the Cultural Revolution - part of a 12-minute video projection sequence - was taken for technical reasons.