The following was made by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) spokesman in response to the meeting between Assistant Director (Performing Arts), Ms Winsome Chow, and the Alliance of the Arts and Crafts Fair stalls operators (the Alliance) this evening (July 24):
Since the implementation of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre's Arts and Crafts Fair (the Fair) in 2001, response to the scheme has become less encouraging in recent years, recording a decreasing number of applications year after year - the applications for arts services stalls dropped from 27 in 2007/08 to 10 in 2012/13 while the applications for handicrafts services stalls fell from 104 in 2007/08 to 83 in 2012/13. There are now eight operators and 23 operators for the arts services stalls and handicraft stalls respectively in the current year.
The LCSD considers that as the leading venue for performing arts, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre (HKCC) has to move with time in providing a more diverse platform for creative arts workers to showcase their artistic talents while bringing together different partners from the community, thus fostering novelty and creativity.
In view of the above, the LCSD will not continue with the existing mode of operation for the arts services and handicraft stalls upon the completion of this year's Fair by the end of July. Instead, the "Creative Market in Partnership @ HKCC" will be launched in mid-September through collaboration with various non-profit youth, creative and welfare organisations. Under the new scheme, different creative activities will be organised by individual partners with an aim to enrich the experience of local and overseas visitors. These partners include Po Leung Kuk, the Boys' & Girls' Clubs Association of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, Fotanian, Make a Difference, and the Mental Health Association of Hong Kong, etc. It is expected that there will be 10 times increase in the number of creative artists from some 30 of the old scheme which will provide new inspiration for the HKCC activities as well as to benefit a greater number of arts and creative operators.
The LCSD has not been able to promise the Alliance to maintain the existing mode of operation of the current Arts and Crafts Fair because it has to take into consideration the importance of balancing the various needs from the community and the enhancement of HKCC's creative activities.
The LCSD spokesman reiterated that unlike the hawker licensing system, the Fair does not involve any arrangements on the renewal of lease agreement since the operators are not tenants. The Fair was open for application on an annual basis. Those who were interested in selling their handicrafts or providing arts services have to go through a selection process before they could operate. As such, there is no guarantee that the same operator can continue operating in the next round. In fact, over the last three years, there have been changes of more than 60% of the handicraft stall operators and about half of the arts services stall operators on an annual average.
Nevertheless, the LCSD understands the worries of the existing operators. Apart from actively assisting the operators to apply for the new scheme, the LCSD has put forward proposals to assist the operators so that they could have more time to adapt to the changes during the transition. Having considered the requests of the Alliance and carefully weighed in balance the demands from different parties, the LCSD puts forward some optimised proposals at this evening's meeting with the Alliance to help the operators adjust to the new arrangements.
Under the optimised proposals, all the eight arts services operators will continue to run their stalls on Sundays and weekdays for another half year (from August 1, 2013 to January 22, 2014). The 23 handicraft services operators can continue operating on Sundays until the commencement of the new scheme (i.e. before September 15).
The LCSD hopes that the optimised proposals will provide the existing operators the maximum maneuverability without affecting the implementation of the new scheme during the transition. Meanwhile, the LCSD will keep on communicating with the Alliance.
The spokesman added that the new mode will not be conducted on an out-sourced basis as HKCC will continue to take the lead role of planning, coordination and management of the fairs run by various partners so as to provide a creative market with diversity and flair.
Ends/Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Issued at HKT 22:08