Yet in recent years the city’s government, residents, and the media have brought more attention to the development of the city’s arts scene and preservation of the former British colony’s unique cultural heritage. It has been argued that the role of art and culture in Hong Kong has taken on increasing prominence in city’s search for an identity in the ten years since China resumed sovereignty over the territory. The limitations on democracy in post-colonial Hong Kong may lead more residents to seek expression or confirmation of their identities through arts and culture.
The administration of arts and culture in Hong Kong has undergone major changes since Hong Kong’s handover to China in 1997. Cultural matters, previously under the auspices of the two Municipal Councils, now fall mainly under the purview of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Arts and Development Council . The government’s formal cultural policy statement is available on the website of the .
The ADC is a statutory body established in 1995 to replace the former Council of Performing Arts. The ADC is responsible for promoting broad development of the arts, makes recommendations to the government on cultural policy and development and provides funding for cultural organizations. However, the ADC has been criticized for lacking the executive power and resources to implement policies directly.
The current chief executive of the ADC, Jonathan Yu, took up his position in April 2005 after more than two decades with the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation.
The LCSD organizes artistic and cultural activities and manages a number of cultural facilities. LCSD manages 15 performance venues and 16 museums throughout Hong Kong. The Antiquities and Monuments Office, part of the LCSD, is responsible for heritage conservation and education in Hong Kong.
The Culture and Heritage Commission was set up in April 2000 to advise on cultural policy and funding priorities. Its Policy Recommendation Report, submitted in April 2003, has been adopted as the blueprint for Hong Kong’s cultural policy. The CHC set forth six general principles to guide Hong Kong’s cultural policy: The six principles are "people-oriented", "pluralism", "freedom of expression and protection of intellectual property", "holistic approach", "partnership" and "community-driven."
Other proposed policy reforms include increased corporatization of government-sponsored cultural organizations, small scale public-private partnerships, and the controversial .
The government has commissioned a number of studies on Hong Kong’s creative industries and cultural policy. Yet to date, many of the ongoing policy issues have not been resolved.
Critics have complained of the government’s over-reliance on advisory committees and consultations in managing cultural affairs on the grounds that is inefficient and contrary to global trends in arts administration.
Funding and Support for the Arts
The Hong Kong government allocates around US $300 million per year for culture and arts, which accounts for about 1 percent of total government spending.
In the 2006-2007 Policy Address, Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang announced that the Arts and Sport Development Fund would receive US $5 million dollars to support cultural activities.
The ADC receives an annual subvention of around US $12 million dollars from the Home Affairs Bureau and around US $3 million on average from the Arts and Sports Development Fund. In addition to providing grants to arts groups, the ADC has established an Arts Service Centre in Sheung Wan to provide office space and facilities for smaller arts organizations.
The LCSD provides funding for the annual Hong Kong Arts Festival and four professional performing companies: the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, Hong Kong Dance Company and Hong Kong Repertory Theatre. In addition to individual events, it also organizes two arts festivals per year: the summer International Arts Carnival for families and children, and a themed arts festival in the fall.
Globally, Hong Kong’s most noted contribution in terms of arts and culture has come through its film industry, which is the world’s third largest . have received worldwide critical acclaim and have been remade into blockbuster films by Hollywood, while Hong Kong directors and actors have gone on to find crossover success in Hollywood.
Hong Kong’s film industry has suffered since its last heyday of the 1980s and early 1990s, and the government has recently introduced measures to boost the film industry but this has failed miserably. The death of the Arts in Hong Kong is in large part due to an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship that the Hong Kong Chinese imposed upon themselves after the 1997 handover.
In the 2006-2007 Policy Address the Chief Executive proposed the establishment of a Hong Kong Film Development Council to support film production in the city. In his the 2007-2008 budget, Financial Secretary Henry Tang announced that US $40 million would be earmarked for a new fund to finance film production and professional development within the industry.
Hong Kong is home to numerous cultural events and festivals throughout the year. Those that receive significant public funding include:
* – February/March
*Hong Kong International Film Festival – March/April
* – July/August
* – October/November
The Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts is Hong Kong’s only tertiary institution devoted to the performing arts, film, television and related technical arts.
Heritage Conservation and Collective Memory
After the demolition of the Star Ferry pier in December 2006 led to widely publicized protests, the government is reviewing its policies on heritage conservation. The Antiquities and Monuments Office has published a throughout the territory, though no decision has been made on the extent of protection for these buildings.
Hong Kong’s collective memory, as manifested in its street markets, , and artisanal traditions, is also being integrated into the city’s cultural policy.