West Kowloon Cultural District including Xiqu Centre Faces Potential Closures Without Financial Revamp

1194
Xiqu Centre

18th May 2024 – (Hong Kong) Henry Tang Ying-yen, chairman of the board for the West Kowloon Cultural District, has warned of potential intermittent closures of its museums, including the Xiqu Centre unless the government approves a critical financial restructuring plan. Speaking on a local radio station over the weekend, Tang revealed that the government had concluded an independent financial assessment of the district but has yet to communicate its findings to the board.

With the HK$21.6 billion funding from the Legislative Council, allocated in 2008, projected to run dry by next March, the district’s financial sustainability is under threat. The board had previously proposed a plan last year, which included the sale of residential property rights to generate revenue. However, the fate of this proposal remains uncertain.

Tang expressed his concerns about the necessity to reduce operational days to manage costs, questioning the fairness to the public. He highlighted the significant visitor numbers at the Hong Kong Palace Museum and the M+ Museum, which have attracted approximately 2.4 million and 5 million visitors respectively since their openings.

The chairman fears that without timely intervention, the district may only survive for another year on short-term loans, which could lead to banks demanding repayment. Tang emphasised the importance of resolving this financial dilemma without resorting to public funds and reiterated the district’s commitment to cooperating with the government to avoid disrupting its contribution to Hong Kong’s ambition of becoming a hub for cultural exchange between Chinese and Western arts, as outlined in China’s 14th Five-Year Plan.