Hong Kong indie music venue to call it quits in July following police raids
Hidden Agenda, which opened in 2009, has faced a spate of problems including failure to obtain a public entertainment licence and visa issues for foreign musicians
The embattled eight-year-old Hidden Agenda music venue announced on Thursday that it would stop operating from mid-July, weeks after controversial raids and the arrest of several overseas band members.
Hui Chung-wo, the founder of the indie music hub set up in 2009, said no more live shows would be organised under its name, although he would continue paying the rent for the venue in an industrial building in Kwun Tong until his money ran out.
The latest raid against the venue took place early last month when seven people were arrested, including Hui and four foreign band members who did not have work visas. The musicians must report to the Immigration Department on June 5.
Hui, who was charged with five offences including obstructing officials, must report to the police on June 8.
The final day for Hidden Agenda, which has hosted more than 600 bands, has yet to be decided. But Hui said he had already decided to mark it by removing the wooden plaque at the entrance to the 3,600 sq ft venue.
Hui said it cost HK$75,000 a month to maintain the venue, while the cancellation of at least nine shows had cost them more than HK$110,000.
“I will keep the place until my money for it runs out,” Hui said. “I can afford one more month. After that, I may put a can there and if people throw money in, I will keep it for them.”
Three local bands will perform at the venue before mid-July. But the bands, instead of Hidden Agenda, will host the shows.
Hidden Agenda has set up in four locations, one of which was taken over for revitalisation.
Watch: Hidden Agenda raided by police and immigration officers
The venue also faced problems obtaining a public entertainment licence and thereby getting work visas for overseas bands.
The current venue officially operates as a takeaway food stall since being granted a food factory licence. The Lands Department has refused to grant a public entertainment licence, saying running a live music venue there would be a breach of lease conditions.
Hui accused law enforcers of having double standards as he knew of performances hosted by a non-governmental organisation in a venue that did not have a public entertainment licence.
Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu said he would seek a meeting with incoming chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor when she assumes office, as she had expressed a willingness to discuss relaxing licensing procedures.
Kwong said he also planned to discuss with other officials the possibility of taking over some of the 183 empty schools to house artists who face eviction from industrial buildings.