The Board of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) held its 58th meeting today.

Mr Matthew Cheung, who attended the Board meeting as Chairman for the first time since his appointment as the Chief Secretary for Administration, thanked the former Chairman, Mrs Carrie Lam, for her significant contribution in taking forward the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) project over the past 4.5 years.

Mr Cheung remarked that WKCD is an important cultural development for Hong Kong driven by the vision of developing WKCD into a world-class integrated arts and cultural district comprising local, traditional as well as international elements.  Various facilities in the district will be completed and commence operation over the next three years. The Chief Executive announced in his Policy Address on 18 January 2017 the implementation of the Enhanced Financial Arrangement (EFA) for WKCD.  On one hand, the EFA will provide WKCDA with adequate financial capability to sustainably operate the WKCD.  On the other hand, the EFA will allow WKCDA to retain the ownership of all land and premises within WKCD, thus ensuring a more holistic and comprehensive design for the development of the WKCD, and maintaining its integrity in the long run.  WKCDA will continue to adopt a pragmatic approach to implement WKCD, containing the cost of individual facilities rigorously and exploring different means proactively to contain recurrent costs and increase income.  We are confident that WKCD will become a significant and vigorous driving force to the development of culture and creative industries and the enhancement of quality of life in Hong Kong.

The WKCDA’s Chief Executive Officer Mr Duncan Pescod welcomed the EFA for WKCD, announced by the Chief Executive in his Policy Address.  He added that EFA will enable the WKCDA to have the long-term financial capability to fulfill its objectives in building and operating the planned facilities on a sustainable basis, including the construction and operation of a world-class Music Centre.  Under the existing financial arrangement, the retail/dining/entertainment part of the commercial sites in the district will be vested with WKCDA to provide a steady source of recurrent income of rental proceeds to support WKCDA’s operation.  Under the EFA, the WKCDA will be granted the development rights over the hotel/office/residential (HOR) portion of the District, allowing it to jointly develop the HOR portion with the private sector and share the rental income under a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) model which stipulates that the control of the premises will be reverted to the WKCDA upon expiry of the BOT agreements. He indicated that as the uncertainties over financial arrangement and land ownership have been cleared up, the WKCDA will be able to focus on the development of the arts and cultural software and hardware and to make preparation for putting the facilities into operation.

Members were also briefed that the construction of various Core Arts and Cultural Facilities continues with steady progress. Construction works for the external building envelope of Xiqu Centre is being implemented in full scale in a bid to complete the works in the next few months, while internal fit-out work and the installation of specialist theatre equipment have commenced. In addition to the progress made in the Art Park project, the structures of Freespace as well as the huge trusses supporting the M+ main tower and its ground floor superstructure is clearly visible.  WKCDA management will closely monitor the progress of the project with an aim to open M+ by late 2019. Regarding the Lyric Theatre Complex and Extended Basement, Members noted that the tender for the first main construction contract will be issued in February.

Mr Pescod further reported that the public consultation exercise on the Hong Kong Palace Museum project is underway. In order to allow more time for the community to provide views, the public consultation period will be extended by two weeks, from the original six weeks to eight weeks, until 8 March. He assured Members that a full consultation report, consolidating all the views expressed, will be submitted to the Board.

On the artistic front, Members noted that a number of programmes recently launched by the WKCDA and M+ have received overwhelmingly positive responses.  Such programmes included the M+’s debut design exhibition at the M+ Pavilion - Shifting Objectives: Design from the M+ Collection, which was completed on 5 February; Freespace Happening and We Dance held on 12 February and the Rising Stars of Cantonese Opera that ran from 3 to 8 February. To encourage reflection on  the phenomenon of gender stereotypes, the next M+ Pavilion exhibition ‘Ambiguously Yours: Gender in Hong Kong Popular Culture’ is scheduled to be held from 17 March to 21 May 2017.

The Board also considered WKCDA’s Business Plan for the coming financial year, as well as the Corporate Plan for the next three financial years.  In accordance with the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority Ordinance, these plans will be submitted to the Secretary for Home Affairs before the end of the financial year.