The year 2012-13 was an exciting and rewarding one for the LCSD, in which we organised a remarkable range of sports, leisure and cultural programmes both within and outside Hong Kong. Some highlights of the many major events and activities organised by the department during the year are described below.
On the leisure services side, we continued to promote the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle and actively participating in sports activities. On the back of the 2012 London Olympic Games, the LCSD organised a number of programmes to kindle the Olympic spirit in Hong Kong and support our athletes in London. One of these was Sport for All Day 2012 held on 5 August 2012, for which each of the 18 districts selected an Olympic sport as its signature theme.
Our cycling athletes performed exceptionally well in the London Olympics, with the highlight undoubtedly being the bronze medal won by Sarah Lee Wai-sze in the indoor track cycling Keirin event. We look forward to this sport developing further in Hong Kong once our first-ever indoor track cycling venue, the Tseung Kwan O Velodrome, is completed in late 2013. This venue will become the training base for our elite cyclists, and is being built to standards that will enable us to host international cycling events there.
Shortly after the Olympics ended, we were delighted to welcome a 70-member delegation of Mainland Olympic gold medallists to Hong Kong. They took part in a number of sports demonstrations and sharing sessions, where they inspired thousands of young people with their dazzling skills and inspiring personal stories.
To assess the level of physical fitness of our population, we completed our second territory-wide Physical Exercise Test in 2012. The survey is conducted every five years, and the findings provide us with valuable data on the physical fitness of Hong Kong people aged between three and 69. Based on the 2012 findings, we have developed a package of strategies and measures to promote physical activities among groups that are less active or inactive. Since swimming is the second most popular sport in Hong Kong, one of these strategies has been to encourage regular swimming by making admission to public swimming pools more affordable and convenient. In July 2012, we launched a public swimming pool monthly ticket scheme whereby swimmers can enjoy a substantial discount (compared with single entry fees) by purchasing monthly tickets. The scheme has proved to be highly popular, especially among the elderly; by March 2013 over 53 000 tickets had been sold, around half to elderly swimmers. The number of swimmers was also boosted with the opening of two new swimming pool complexes during the year, Lam Tin Swimming Pool and Tuen Mun North West Swimming Pool. Indeed, the total attendance of swimmers in Tuen Mun District from April to July 2013 increased by a remarkable 95% over the same period in 2012.
With the enactment of subsidiary legislation by the Legislative Council in mid-2013, we were able to put an end to the longstanding differences in the fees charged for the same types of leisure facilities and services in the urban areas and the New Territories. Following the approach announced by the Chief Executive in his 2013 Policy Address, we will align the fees and charges in urban areas and the New Territories based on the lower of the two rates, in phases, starting from 1 August 2013.
In 2011, we installed automated external defibrillators at all aquatic venues to support rescue operations and improve chances of survival for individuals experiencing heart problems at these venues. Based on that experience, in 2013 we extended the installation programme to all our major land-based leisure and cultural venues, giving members of the public access to the defibrillators to handle heart-related medical emergencies.
In September 2012, we launched another Park Déco project at Cornwall Street Park. The project involved injecting many creative elements into the park, such as designer park furniture and a more user-friendly signage system. The Park Déco scheme, which was first launched on a trial basis in Quarry Bay Park, has been well received both by the public and by district councils. It was also awarded with the Special Citation (Innovation) under the category of Team Award (General Public Service) of the Civil Service Outstanding Service Award Scheme 2013.
Turning to our cultural services work, I have great pleasure in reporting on an impressive performance from our public museums in the year under review. The museums had altogether attracted a record-breaking 5.8 million visitors in 2012, an achievement which was the result of much hard work by our museums over the past few years. Particularly notable exhibitions included The Majesty of All Under Heaven: The Eternal Realm of China’s First Emperor exhibition at the Museum of History, where attendance (over 420 000) broke the record for all thematic exhibitions held at that museum since its opening. The exhibition also won the Gold Prize of Team Award (General Public Service) of the Civil Service Outstanding Service Award Scheme 2013. The exhibition PICASSO - Masterpieces from Musée National Picasso, Paris also broke the single-day entry record for all museums; in total, almost 300 000 visitors passed through the doors of the Heritage Museum during the two-month exhibition period. Other world-class exhibitions included A Lofty Retreat from the Red Dust: The Secret Garden of Emperor Qianlong, which marked the beginning of our long-term cooperation with the Beijing Palace Museum; Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal, the largest touring exhibition of Warhol’s works in Asia; and Imperishable Affection: The Art of Feng Zikai, which was widely acclaimed and broke our record for sales of exhibition catalogues.
Some of these exhibitions were presented as cultural highlights in the celebration of the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Other events that lit up the anniversary celebrations included the International Military Tattoo, the first ever in Hong Kong; and the International Arts Carnival 2012, which basked in a record-breaking average attendance of 95%.
Meanwhile, we continued to strengthen our network of venues and resources that underpin Hong Kong’s cultural atmosphere. For instance, the Yau Ma Tei Theatre, a Grade 2 historic building, was converted into a contemporary performing arts venue set aside specifically for Cantonese opera, to which we have a strong commitment. Support for this important element of Hong Kong’s cultural heritage will be further enhanced when the New Wing of the Ko Shan Theatre is opened in 2014. We were also pleased to open two new libraries in early 2013; the Ping Shan Tin Shui Wai Public Library, a major public library and now the second largest in Hong Kong in terms of floor area after the Hong Kong Central Library; and the Lam Tin Public Library, which has been upgraded to a district library. Apart from opening new libraries, we have also worked to enhance the quality and efficiency of our library services by trying out new technology, for instance by testing Radio Frequency Identification in selected libraries.
To align with Hong Kong people’s increasingly ‘on-the-go’ lifestyle, we launched the “My Culture” mobile app in September 2012. This gives members of the public ready access to a vast range of cultural programme information while they are on the move, and is proving a popular resource for many art lovers.
Outside Hong Kong, we assisted the Hong Kong-Taiwan Cultural Co-operation Committee to organise the first-ever major cultural programme in Taipei in November 2012. Hong Kong Week 2012 proved to be an extravaganza that successfully showcased Hong Kong’s diverse talents in the performing arts to enthusiastic Taiwan audiences. We are now planning Hong Kong Week 2013, to be held in November 2013.
The LCSD also participated in the Liverpool Biennial 2012 with the exhibition All Are Guests, which highlighted some of the fascinating ways in which our artists explore connections between the self and the city in their art.
Looking ahead, in the year to come the LCSD will continue planning and organising a wide array of exciting sports and cultural programmes to meet the changing needs and interests of our population. We will also continue to provide new facilities and upgrade our existing facilities to meet the latest requirements. We hope we can continue to count on your support in the coming year.
Mrs Betty FUNG CHING Suk-yee
Director of Leisure and Cultural Services