Beneath Money Pressures and New Leadership, Much more Than Fifty percent of the Hong Kong Arts Centre’s Team Has Departed

Above the very last yr, upwards of half of the staff members of the Hong Kong Arts Centre (HKAC) have reportedly remaining the group, generally voluntarily, leaving the 46-year-previous nonprofit in a point out of flux.

The mass walkout follows the August 2022 departure of previous longtime executive director Connie Lam Suk-yee, who had been with the art centre due to the fact 1997, and at the helm for 13 a long time. Prior to her resignation, the center experienced 63 direct employees, according to the organization’s yearly report.

Modern departures include things like application director Teresa Kwong, senior plan manager Ian Leung, and Kattie Enthusiast, director of HKAC’s Ifva movie and online video festival, the South China Morning Submit described. In overall, nearly 40 staffers are no lengthier with the institution, sources familiar with the circumstance informed Artnet Information.

Things have altered in Hong Kong due to the fact the implementation of a new countrywide safety law in 2020 that could be dependable for perceived censorship at the heart, which includes the cancellation of concert events for pro-democracy singer Denise Ho Wan-see in 2021 and a musical from a area theater team this June. Hong Kong’s film censorship board also resolved to cancel screenings at the 2023 Ifva competition that it felt contained politically sensitive work.

Connie Lam, former executive director of the Hong Kong Arts Centre. Photo by Edward Wong/<em>South China Morning Post</em> via Getty Images.

Connie Lam, former executive director of the Hong Kong Arts Centre. Photograph: Edward Wong/South China Morning Article through Getty Visuals.

But the more substantial issue at the HKAC appears to be the new management.

Lam’s successor, Rebecca Ip, arrives to HKAC right after a stint top a personal training enterprise that operates nursery faculties and kindergarten, and was formerly govt director of the Hong Kong Ballet. Resources connected to the establishment are essential of her deficiency of artwork world practical experience.

The HKAC generates much of its earnings from renting out sections of its 19-floor creating, as properly as rooftop billboard, but has found itself less than growing economic pressure. The advertising enterprise has terminated its deal for the developing, and rental income has dropped 10 percent from 2020 concentrations, many thanks a downturn in the assets industry considering that the start of the pandemic.

“To aid sustainability of its cash flow streams, HKAC wants to evaluate and improve its regions of functions, together with diversifying pursuits and classes to involve artwork systems for little ones,” HKAC informed the SCMP in an electronic mail.

The Hong Kong Arts Centre under construction in May 1977. Photo by C. Y. Yu/South China Morning Post via Getty Images.

The Hong Kong Arts Centre less than design in May 1977. Picture by C. Y. Yu/South China Morning Post via Getty Pictures.

But there are rising considerations that HKAC isn’t undertaking adequate to compete with the visible arts choices of newer opponents this kind of as the West Kowloon Cultural District and Tai Kwun.

“Many are leaving since they cannot bear to remain on and just do courses with very little that means. And due to the fact the new administration appear to be to have small regard for the center’s solid ties with the area arts group,” a just lately departed workers member explained to SCMP.

That jives with what Artnet News acquired from sources near to the situation who claimed that exterior partners who have lately collaborated with HKAC on particular person initiatives were not happy with the recent administration, which did not act professionally and did not regard persons who ended up concerned. 

As of press time, HKAC experienced not responded to inquiries from Artnet Information.

Further reporting by Vivienne Chow. 

 

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