With ArtHK over, attention returns to Hong Kong’s plans for a $2.8 billion cultural district. The International Herald Tribune has an interesting update on the long-stalled and sometimes troubled project. The elders of Hong Kong are willing to make a one-time investment in the district but not to subsidize it indefinitely. So the project needs to pay for itself with shopping and entertainment revenues over the long haul. In the short term, there’s going to be a lot of building and big new museum that needs to acquire more work:
During the Hong Kong International Art Fair last month, more than 100 visiting art-world luminaries were taken on a cruise to see that promised plot of land, guided by Lars Nittve, a founding director of the Tate Modern in London and now the new head of West Kowloon’s proposed contemporary art museum. […]
“There has been much concern over whether we’re just building hardware instead of software, and in that regard, we’ve done relatively bad P.R. work in telling people what this museum should be,” said Mr. Nittve, the new executive director of West Kowloon’s 40,000-square-meter, or 430,000-square-foot, M+ museum, which will display international contemporary visual culture.
Mr. Nittve, who started work in January, will have four or five years to hire and train 400 staff members and build a collection of artwork.
“I’ve never built a collection entirely from scratch,” he said. “It’s really fun. Very few museums have this much money, but when you’re building something new, your needs are endless.”
Mr. Nittve said he was at liberty to collect what he wanted from auctions, galleries, other museums and even new commissions.
At the same time, Judd Tully announces in Artinfo.com plans to turn a former Hong Kong Central district police station into a mixed-use site with 27% devoted to commercial enterprises like galleries as well as a new museum:
the richly conservative Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust is initially bankrolling the Central Police Station Project (CPS) with a HK$1.8 billion ($231 million) commitment, along with the official blessings of the local government to launch the not-for-profit enterprise. According to the sponsors, CPS Project will establish “a centre for heritage, arts and leisure at this prime Central location [and] compliments the overall development of arts and culture in the city and adds an attraction with distinct Hong Kong character.”
“Our planned mixture of commercial and cultural usage,” said Hong Kong Jockey Club chairman John Chan, “will ensure the vibrancy of the entire area.”
A Bid for Culture, as Only Hong Kong Can (International Herald Tribune)