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City leader promises to revitalise music and arts scene with plan featuring HK$60 million a year in subsidies
First stage of new annual pop culture festival to highlight golden age of the city’s pop culture
A blueprint to boost Hong Kong’s arts and culture scene would be drawn up, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu promised in his first policy address last month. His plans include the global promotion of local pop culture through annual festivals and content for streaming platforms.
The Mega Arts and Cultural Events Fund will be created to promote international cultural exchanges. Subsidies worth a total of HK$60 million will be available each year. Each large-scale cultural event, such as Art Basel and Art Central, will be allowed to apply for a maximum subsidy of HK$15 million.
Subsidies will be offered to film projects in collaboration with producers from other Asian countries. There will be subsidies for variety shows co-produced by local television stations and mainland or Asian production teams.
Multimedia production teams will also be trained to produce television and film content for streaming platforms such as Netflix. The goal of this is to showcase Hong Kong’s productions to the world.
“To promote Hong Kong’s pop culture to go global, we will strive to expand the industry’s development capacity with three foci on film, television and streaming platforms respectively,” Lee said.
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The chief executive’s policy blueprint also included an annual pop culture festival. It would cover a string of events, such as live performances, film screenings, exhibitions, talks, workshops and seminars. The first stage of the festival will be designed to highlight the golden age of the city’s pop culture from the 1960s to the 1990s.
Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said the spotlight was turned on the stars of yesteryear rather than modern pop acts because the earlier generation had made a lasting mark in mainland China, the rest of Asia and beyond. He added that these older stars could inspire a younger generation of performers to think big.
Joe Wong Chi-cho is the permanent secretary at the Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau. He added the government hoped to establish a pop culture centre or hall of fame to attract fans from outside Hong Kong.
“Every year, we are seeing fans from across Asia coming to Hong Kong to pay tribute to their long-time idols,” he said. “Hopefully, we can have that landmark and that will be a sort of a pilgrimage place for the many fans.”
How is John Lee planning to strengthen Hong Kong’s music and arts scene? Give THREE examples from Context.
Why will the first stage of Hong Kong’s annual pop culture festival focus on the city’s stars from the 1960s to the 1990s?
From death to depth for Cantopop: veteran lyricist on Hong Kong music scene’s growth
Do you recognise the singers in this photo? Do you think they will be able to attract overseas fans to Hong Kong? Use Context and Glossary to explain your answers.
Are there more recent artists who would better represent Hong Kong? Explain using Context and your own knowledge.
Young fans use social media to bring new life to Hong Kong’s old stars
Chief executive promises to revitalise music and arts scene and highlight city’s unique East-West fusion
Cultural Commission, made up of sector leaders, to be created before end of the year
Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu revealed in his first policy address that the Cultural Commission would be established before the year’s end. The group will make a plan to develop the arts, culture and creative industries.
Another 10-year plan for the development of arts and cultural venues will be made with the goal of raising the number of government-run museums and the seats at performance venues.
Election Committee lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok, who formerly represented the sports, performing arts, culture and publication sector, welcomed the new measures. He added that the city had lacked a body to draft plans for cultural development.
“It is a good thing as it has been 20 years since the previous cultural commission was established. It is even more necessary to map out a blueprint, as the government resources are limited,” Ma said.
“The government has to look at how resources can be utilised and what should be given priority.”
He said cultural policies, which involved a HK$4 to 5 billion overall budget, had a wide coverage, including libraries, museums, performance venues and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.
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But Professor Oscar Ho Hing-kay of Chinese University’s department of cultural and religious studies said the government had made the mistake of applying “a hardware mindset”, which focused on the construction of museums and the production of large-scale festivals.
“For over 30 years, I have reminded the government that cultural development demands a well-rounded development of a cultural ecology of good art education, training of artists, cultural management and technical specialists, space and freedom for art criticism and arts presentation and audience building,” Ho said.
“The government set up many committees in the last 30 years, but the ecology has not improved. In recent years, censorship has prohibited many cultural exchanges, films in particular.”
Ho said a “drastic change” was needed and appealed to officials to create the environment needed for healthy and world-recognised artistic development.
Using News and Context, explain why Ho thinks the government has made a mistake by applying “a hardware mindset”.
What part of Lee’s plan do you think should be prioritised most? Explain using News, Context and your own knowledge.
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A band’s lead singer says income was lost at a stroke after Covid-19 live performance ban was enforced
Bar owner says relaxation too late for top Filipino performers forced to leave city as they could not find work and did not have permanent residency
A lead singer in a band who lost his income when live performances in Hong Kong were axed more than two years ago as part of the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic said he was forced to turn to dealing in used mobile phones to survive.
Cheung Yuk-pak, 24, the singer for a band called Half March, said the government was pitch perfect when it announced live performances at entertainment venues could restart last month.
He used to earn up to HK$1,200 a show performing three to five songs, but his income disappeared when the ban was imposed in April 2020.
“Money is always tight. For live gigs, I was able to manage my schedule and predict my income for the week. Trading old phones is more about luck,” he said.
The return of live entertainment across the city has meant Cheung and many others in the industry can finally make plans to return to the stage.
But one Wan Chai bar owner, who asked not to be named, said the relaxation had come too late for some because many of his best Filipino musicians had been forced to leave the city because they could not find work, and had not yet stayed the seven years needed for permanent residency.
He said he was hopeful business would be better with the return of live music, but the loss of top professional performers was a huge blow.
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“Some had no choice but to leave Hong Kong during the ban, even though they had already stayed here for six years,” he said. “The government policy on permanent residency has been catastrophic for the industry.”
A June survey by the Musicians Foundation found that half of the 645 respondents had moved to other jobs, 13 per cent had sold all their instruments and equipment and 21 per cent had been forced to borrow money to survive.
“It’s very tough for musicians if they’ve gone from playing piano or guitar, to now working on a construction site damaging their hands or delivering food,” said Chris B, a British-Chinese musician born and raised in Hong Kong who started the foundation.
Using Issue, explain how the pandemic has affected the city’s musicians. What could the government do to support them?
How might supporting musicians like Cheung help the government in its goal to revitalise the city’s arts and music scene?
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How is John Lee planning to strengthen Hong Kong’s music and arts scene? Give THREE examples from Context. By establishing the Mega Arts and Cultural Events Fund, which will offer a total of HK$60 million in subsidies every year; training production teams to produce content for streaming platforms; and holding an annual pop culture festival (accept other reasonable answers)
Why will the first stage of Hong Kong’s annual pop culture festival focus on the city’s stars from the 1960s to the 1990s? Since they made a lasting mark in mainland China, the rest of Asia and beyond, they might be able to inspire the next generation of performers to think big and attract overseas fans.
Do you recognise the singers in this photo? Do you think they will be able to attract overseas fans to Hong Kong? Use Context and Glossary to explain your answers. These are the Four Heavenly Kings, Andy Lau, Jacky Cheung, Aaron Kwok and Leon Lai. They can attract overseas fans to Hong Kong. According to the permanent secretary at the Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau, fans from across Asia come to the city to pay tribute to idols like these. / I do not recognise these singers, and I don’t think they can attract overseas fans to Hong Kong. This is because they are likely from an older generation that has an ageing fanbase. (accept other reasonable answers)
Are there more recent artists who would better represent Hong Kong? Explain using Context and your own knowledge. No, the next generation of local artists is not as widely known as those from the earlier generation who had made their mark on mainland China and the rest of Asia. / Yes, up-and-coming stars like Mirror and Gareth.T better represent the next generation of Hong Kong. They have the potential to reach wider audiences if the government invests in developing new talent. (accept other reasonable answers)
Using News and Context, explain why Ho thinks the government has made a mistake by applying “a hardware mindset”. He thinks the government should prioritise curating a healthy cultural environment – good art education, training of artists, cultural management and technical specialists, space and freedom for art criticism and arts presentation and audience building – over the construction of museums and the production of large-scale festivals.
What part of Lee’s plan do you think should be prioritised most? Explain using News, Context and your own knowledge. The plan to invest in local arts – singers, television and film production – should be prioritised most because this can easily carry to a global audience while boosting the local sectors and bringing new talent in.
Using Issue, explain how the pandemic has affected the city’s musicians. What could the government do to support them? The pandemic devastated the city’s music scene since many musicians had to leave Hong Kong, find another job, sell their instruments or borrow money from others to survive under the long ban on live performances. The government should set aside some subsidies to support everyday artists and performers. They could also create a specific visa for musicians. (accept other reasonable answers)
How might supporting musicians like Cheung help the government in its goal to revitalise the city’s arts and music scene? Supporting musicians like Cheung helps to nurture new talent and create a ‘cultural ecology’ for artists to thrive. (accept other reasonable answers)
chaired by the secretary for culture, sports and tourism and made up of industry leaders. The commission will map out a Blueprint for Arts and Culture and Creative Industries Development. Its role includes nurturing the next generation of talent in Hong Kong and upgrading the city’s cultural infrastructure (libraries, museums, etc.).
golden age of Hong Kong’s pop culture
Cantopop superstars from the 1960s to 1990s include the “Four Heavenly Kings” – Andy Lau, Jacky Cheung, Aaron Kwok and Leon Lai. Other big names are George Lam Tsz-cheung and Alan Tam Wing-lun.
live performances ban
live music and other small performances were banned for more than 650 days since Covid-19 restrictions were enforced in early April 2020. A number of live-music venues have closed during the pandemic.
founded by Chris B, a British-Chinese musician born and raised in Hong Kong. It is a non-profit organisation that provides financial relief for the city’s professional musicians.