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Hong Kong Cultural Policy – Art

Policy Analysis

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Liberty Lam – Hong Kong

Introduction and Background


            The Hong Kong SAR Government (The
Government) took its first step to set out a Cultural Policy for Hong Kong by
establishing of the Culture and Heritage Commission (The Commission) in April
2000. The Commission is expected to formulate a set of strategies and
principles which aim to promote a long-term cultural development in Hong Kong
as the advisory body to the Government.


In 2003, The Commission published a “Policy Recommendation Report” which
marks the milestone of Hong Kong Cultural Policy development. The report
outlined 6 strategies to be put forward, and addressed 7 key areas of concerns
that needed to be taken seriously in order to promote the long-term cultural
development of Hong Kong.


The 6 Strategies proposed are:

1.      “People-oriented”;

2.      “Pluralism”;

3.      “Freedom of Expression and Protection
of Intellectual Property”;

4.      “Holistic Approach”;

5.      “Partnership”; and

6.      “Community-driven”.

The 7 key areas of concerns are:

1.      “Hong Kong’s Cultural Position”;

2.      “Education in Culture and the Arts”;

3.      “Cultural Facilities”;

4.      “Resources”;

5.      “Heritage Conservation”;

6.      “Cultural Exchange”; and

7.      “West Kowloon Reclamation

The Government adopted 90% of the recommendations and indicated that the
Home Affairs Bureau will follow up on the policy recommendations of the
reports, and as well reiterate that every policy implementation needs to be
readily and timely adaptable to the changing social environment.


            In 2017 Policy Address, the
government delivered 5 new initiatives on the basis of the above mentioned 6
strategies and 7 keys areas of concerns at “Culture and the Arts” areas, with
the vision of ” To develop Hong Kong into an international Cultural metropolis”1.

The 5 new initiatives are:

1.      “Arts Space”;

2.      “Cultural Exchanges”;

3.      “Grooming of Art Administrators”;

4.      “Promoting the Development of Public
Museums in Hong Kong”; and

5.      “Construction of a Heritage
Conservation and Resource Centre”.


Current Situation


            Cultural Policy is comprised of 3
key elements namely Arts, Culture and Heritage. To give a more solid analysis,
the following analysis would focus on Arts development.


In the past 20 years, the government has supported the constructions,
operation and development public cultural facilities.  14 Museums, 16 performances venues, 2 heritage
centres, the Hong Kong Film Archive are well equipped and operated across all
18 districts.         


The Policy Address in 2017 echo with the Policy Recommendation Report
back in 2003. The annual provision for the Arts and Culture of HK$4.2 billion is deployed to three
main areas:



1.      Funding for Public cultural
facilities and its activities (70%)

a.      Performing arts venues;

b.      Museums;

c.       Heritage; and

d.      Libraries.

2.      Subvention for specific parties (19 %)

a.      Hong Kong Art Development Council

b.      the Hong Kong Academy for Performing
Arts (HKAPA); and

c.       9 major performing arts groups.

3.      Culture-related expenditures. (5%)

The government generally takes 2 strategies to implement the cultural

1.      Build, maintain and develop Arts and
Culture related infrastructure;

2.      Financially support Arts and Culture


Majority of funding are allocated to the infrastructure (70%) but rarely
at software support. This eventually leads to the consequence that Hong Kong is
currently a city with “all foam but no beer”.


            An effective policy is meant to solve
a social issue. Did the current cultural policy serve the purpose? Is the newly
added initiative right tools for solving the current problems occur in the Arts

            There is no evidence trace that the
government has any update or development plan on the cultural policy between 2003
and 2018.


Proposed Solution and Expected


            The Government should be more
perceptive when designing and executing a policy. Throughout the years, the
government did not take the initiative to conduct a survey nor research
regarding the ecosystem and the landscape of the Art field. The lack of
understanding on the issue, the ineffective policy and biased resources
deployment dragged the development of the (Cultural) Art development in Hong
Kong. Thus it is proposed that the government should take steps to remedy the


1.      Recognise and foster the intrinsic
value of Arts;

2.      Utilise Art as a tool to stimulate
community development in a social contexts

3.      Encourage the capacity building and
stimulate the development of the Arts industry; and

4.      Initiate and expedite the
multi-sector collaboration;


Recognise and foster the intrinsic value of Arts


There are at least 10 performances occurs in different public performance
venues in HK every Saturday night. There is no lack of performing arts
activities yet the concert manner of Hong Kongers are often being questioned – regarding
the dress code and applause between scenes or movements.

This phenomenon reflects 2 lacking qualities:

1.      The value of art to Hong Kongers;

2.      The quality (standard) of art

Complying proper dress code implicates one’s respect to the occasion. Typically,
Hong Kongers regard the art performance as an entertainment in life, instead of
art appreciation. Adults attend a ballet performance as a social event instead
of an artistic activity; Most of the teenagers in Hong Kong would play a
musical instrument or two. Learning visual arts, dance or music, are usually
for resume-building purpose.

Living in a highly competitive environment, Hong Kongers often overlooked
if not neglected the intrinsic value of Arts in life.



1.      Reform the Art Education curriculum
(Primary and Secondary School)

There is no specific funding or policy support for Art education in
general. Art education in Primary and Secondary school are shallow in terms of
both content and pedagogy. An appropriate art education framework and guideline
would help enhance the level of art appreciation and art knowledge of the
younger generation and hence further influence quality of the general public by
parenting and intergenerational exchange in daily life. 

2.      Expand the function of Music Office as
an official General Art Education Unit

The Music Office is established in 1977 and now managed by the Leisure
and Cultural Services Department of the Government aiming to promote music
knowledge and appreciate in the community via 3 instrumental-based training
programmes. Reforming the Music office as an official general art education
unit would increase the impact to the community. The expansion could ultimately
help in the next steps:


Utilise Art as a tool to stimulate community
development in a social contexts


The poverty rate in HK is 10%, including 200k people living in
sub-divided unites, low incomes, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities
and chronic diseases.  The Ageing
challenge in HK is so authentic that, the population of citizens aged 65 above
would increase from 17 % in 2016 to 31 % in 2036, with a higher education
background. In such context, we would need an innovative solution.



1.      Expand the function of Music Office

Music Office should reform as general art education unit which priorities
its resources in serving underprivileged parties namely students from low
income families, disables and elderly. This would help minimize the cultural
divide and promote social inclusion. Underprivileged students could not afford
the course fee and equipment hence limited his/her growth and competitiveness.
Art therapy class for Adult and Elderly would help with their mental wellness
and social wellbeing. Ultimately, Art could act as a catalyst to encourage
intergenerational collaboration for the sake of social inclusion and equality.


Encourage the capacity building and stimulate the
development of the Arts industry;


            Unconditionally supporting the 9
major performing arts groups , HKAPA and HKADC and the lack of government-driven
program are unhealthy to the development of the HK Arts industry. These parties
are proven spending their funding without guidelines and governance – knowing the
fact that the funding would not be cut and indeed increase every year.



1.      Support the Creative Industry

To stimulate the artistic environment and quality of art deliverables,
more new and innovative Arts groups or company should be introduced to the
market. Government should consider establishing an Art “Start-up” fund (like
the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund) to support small
arts group owing to increase its competitiveness in the industry.

2.      Funding with Condition

In terms of
Governance of the HKADC, HKAPA and 9 major performing arts groups, the government
should stop funding unconditionally. Offering funding with condition would improve
the quality of work/programme.  For
example, the government might propose reduce funding to the HK Chinese
Orchestra if the imbalanced employment ratio between local and non-local
artists remain unresolved; The Government might propose a special funding to
the HK Ballet if they are willing provide internship for HKAPA students in a
long run. Thus, would effectively initiate
and expedite the multi-sector collaboration.




In order to execute the suggestions above effectively and efficiently, it
is highly recommend that the Government would establish an Administration
office / Bureau for Culture and Arts to develop an effective framework and
facilitate the cultural policy towards the vision. Growing HK into a vibrant
global cultural metropolis where people adore, value and participate in diverse
forms of art. The intrinsic value of culture is a philosophical assertion that
could not be measured by data.

2017 Policy Address, HKSAR Government

Post Author: admin


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