The Board of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA or the Authority) held its 95th meeting today. At the meeting, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of WKCDA, Mrs Betty Fung, reported on the Authority’s recent activities and its progress in different areas.
Mrs Fung began by reporting that the M+ building and the adjacent Conservation and Storage Facility had been issued their Occupation Permits by the Buildings Department on 24 December 2020. M+ staff have started moving into the building in January 2021. This will be followed by work on organising and installing the collections in preparation for the museum's opening by the end of 2021.
Meanwhile, construction of the Hong Kong Palace Museum (HKPM) is progressing well. This has included work to install the building’s aluminum cladding curtain wall and to assemble mechanical and electrical equipment. The testing and commissioning of various mechanical and electrical systems at the HKPM will be carried out in February 2021. The application for the statutory inspection by the Buildings Department and the Fire Services Department is expected to be made in the second quarter of 2021. The Authority is confident that the HKPM construction will be completed by November 2021 as planned, after which the fitting-out of the galleries will take place. Regarding exhibition planning, HKPM has already embarked on design work for its nine opening exhibitions and will issue tenders for individual exhibition production and multimedia exhibit design. Once the fitting-out work for the galleries has been completed, the artefacts to be displayed from the Palace Museum will be shipped to Hong Kong. This transfer should take place in the first half of 2022.
Mrs Fung also reported that the HKPM’s planned stakeholder engagement activities, originally scheduled to start in December 2020, were being slightly adjusted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated social distancing measures. Some of the exchange meetings, such as those with stakeholders from the education and culture sectors, have been moved online, while other focus group meetings have been rescheduled to March or April 2021.
Also in response to the pandemic, performances and programmes at the Xiqu Centre and Freespace scheduled up to 4 February 2021 have been rescheduled or cancelled. The West Kowloon Cultural District is continuing to monitor the situation and will adjust programmes accordingly, with some of the programmes being presented online instead. For example, the stage show Waking Dreams in 1984, co-presented with On & On Theatre Workshop at Freespace and originally held in early January 2021, had its format changed to three ticketed live-streamed performances that took place from 9 to 11 January 2021. The ticket package included a live-streamed performance, a Director's cut performance video and a behind-the-curtain documentary film. The three live-streamed performances were very well received, attracting over 1 200 online viewers in total.
In anticipation of the new year ahead, the Xiqu Centre and Freespace invited some of their long-time performing arts partners to share their challenges encountered, hopes and ambitions for 2021 in a series of artistic short videos titled Dear 2021. Each video in the series is designed to deliver a message of strength, creativity and hope for a better year ahead. The videos have been uploaded on the West Kowloon Cultural District’s website, and on its Facebook and Instagram pages.
Mrs Fung reported that the District has also been actively promoting a series of cross-genre music collaborations over the past years. These are activities designed to inspire musicians to experiment with new compositions and arrangements and to explore new ideas across different genres and styles of music. From 2019 to 2020, 13 music groups were invited to create and record 23 tracks for Freespace Mixtape Vol. 3, a follow-up to Freespace Mixtape Vol. 1 (2017) and Freespace Mixtape Vol. 2 (2019). Freespace Mixtape Vol. 3 has been available on major online music platforms since 30 December 2020.
Regarding project development, Mrs Fung reported significant progress in several areas. After the Occupation Permit for the M+ building was obtained in December 2020, the car park in the basement of M+ was the first of the building’s facilities to open to the public. Opening on 30 December 2020, the car park’s approximately 150 parking spaces have increased the total number of public parking spaces at the District to about 480 on weekends and Public Holidays.
Elsewhere, the statutory inspection of the WKCDA Tower started in early January 2021. The building's Occupation Permit is expected to be issued before Chinese New Year. It is expected that the Authority’s staff members will be able to move into the building in the second quarter of 2021, after completion of the fitting-out works. The WKCDA Tower will enable the Authority to consolidate all its temporary offices on Hong Kong Island and Tsim Sha Tsui in one place.
The substructure of the Lyric Theatre Complex (LTC) and the Integrated Basement, which is being constructed under the L1 Works Contract, is now in its final stage of construction. Completion is expected in early 2021. The superstructure of the LTC, under the L2 Works Contract, is concurrently under construction on the same site.
Finally, the Austin Road Pedestrian Linkage System connecting the Xiqu Centre and the MTR’s Austin Station is expected to open to the public in the first quarter of 2021, once all statutory inspections have been completed and the Work Completion Certificate issued. The new linkage system will provide convenient and direct pedestrian access for audiences and visitors heading to the Xiqu Centre from Austin Station.
About the West Kowloon Cultural District
The West Kowloon Cultural District is one of the largest and most ambitious cultural projects in the world. Its vision is to create a vibrant new cultural quarter for Hong Kong on forty hectares of reclaimed land located alongside Victoria Harbour. With a varied mix of theatres, performance spaces, and museums, the West Kowloon Cultural District will produce and host world-class exhibitions, performances and cultural events, providing twenty-three hectares of public open space, including a two-kilometre waterfront promenade.