Declaration of independence for M+ - but museum won't open until 2018

Arts hub's first museum to be run as a 'separate legal entity' - when it finally arrives in 2018

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 July, 2014, 4:02am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 July, 2014, 4:02am

The West Kowloon arts hub's first museum will have its own board to ensure its independence and efficiency, it was revealed yesterday.

But filibustering by lawmakers means the M+ museum of visual culture will open up to six months late, in the first half of 2018 rather than late 2017.

The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority announced the changes in its latest update to lawmakers.

It said M+ would be a "separate legal entity", registered as a subsidiary company of the authority, rather than one of the authority's departments.

While the arts hub board will oversee policy and development for the entire site, the M+ board will focus on developing the museum's own mandate and vision, as well as its operations.

Under the museum's acquisition policy, a trust will be set up, separate to the museum, to own its collection. This would "remove legal ambiguity", boost transparency and accountability, and ensure artistic freedom and curatorial independence, the authority said.

However, work on the museum building has been delayed as the authority seeks cash from the Legislative Council to begin construction of the arts hub's vast basement, through which traffic will pass to ensure the area above ground is free of vehicles.

Filibustering of several controversial funding requests has led to a backlog of applications in Legco's Finance Committee, which will not meet again until October.

As of last month, M+ had bought almost 1,000 pieces and received more than 2,000 artworks from 51 donors, the report reveals.

The figures include 47 pieces of contemporary Chinese art bought from, and 1,463 works donated by, Swiss collector Uli Sigg. M+ had a budget for acquisitions and associated costs of HK$1.7 billion.

Meanwhile, the authority pledged to maintain the public park that will make up much of the arts hub as an urban oasis that would inspire "cultural pursuits" - and be free of foul language and dirty behaviour.

The authority will draft by-laws for the park and is proposing that spitting, urinating or defecating in public and using "obscene language" would be among the offences covered.

But the authority also cited a recent online survey in which 90 per cent of the 3,302 respondents favoured a hands-off approach to managing the park. Most said self-discipline by park visitors was key to maintaining order.

While the M+ team will be responsible for art installations in the park, it is not clear who else from the artistic team will be involved in the management of the public open space.