THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF HONG KONG ART VILLAGE (Eng. Summary) andrew lam
(The section “History of Oil Street Architecture” was published in Hong Kong Economic Journal 2000-03-27)
The First Stage – “The Oil Street” Period
During the 17 months from August 1998 to the end of 1999, the Government Property Agency rented an abandoned governmental building at Oil Street, North Point to architects, designers, photographers, individual artists and art groups at a rental rate as low as HK$ 2.75 / square ft. It gradually served as the nurturing ground for art education, creative industries and various kinds of exhibitions and performances.
3 large-scale art and culture festivals have taken place in the Art Village. More than 100 exhibitions and performances, which attracted more than 30,000 audiences, have been held throughout the year. The nature of activities were diverse to include theatre work, dance, folk art, ink painting, calligraphy, installation, photography, sculpture, painting, multi-media, video art, digital art, architecture, fashion design, performance art and music concert. The Oil Street Art Village was a cultivated space, which fostered local economies, creative industries and international art and cultural exchange activities. It attracted creative and enthusiastic individuals to involve and to arouse the interest of local and overseas press.
The total area of the Oil Street building was 125,000 square ft. The gross floor area was estimated to be 160,000 square ft. 33 art groups and workshops, and more than 100 artists were stationed in the Art Village; while more than 721 artists and 3,000 art group members involved in various activities (it is approximately 30% of HK art field). More than 60,000 square ft. area served as performing space, rehearsal room, working area, and storage.
The abandoned property was positively activated. In that short period of time, the art and culture industry built up a good partnership with the SAR government: the Art Village was recognized and supported by HKADC. In 98-99, the Planning Department pointed out that Oil Street Art Village was a successful model for land use transferral.
All of the above prove that HK citizens urgently need the full support of the government to assist running a non-governmental and independent art village. It serves as a window and an opportunity for local art and cultural workers to showcase the power of creative culture. This is the gateway to develop Hong Kong into the brand new “art and cultural centre” in Asia, and to raise the image of HK in the global level.
In 2000, the SAR government planned to sell the land through auction. Various units in the Art Village moved out and the land has been abandoned until today.
Not only was the Oil Street Art Village destroyed, but the SAR government also lost nearly HK$ 10,000,000 of rental income since 2000.
The Second Stage – “Cheung Sha Wan Warehouse” & Old Kai Tak Aiport Period The ex-slaughterhouse in Cheung Sha Wan and the ex-Kai Tak Airport Office Tower was temporarily let to Oil Street Art Village by the Government Property Agency. However, the space provided was not suitable for artistic activities. Many workshops and art groups such as 1aspace, Videotage, On and On Theatre, Zuni Icosahedron/Z+ etc. retreated or their activities suspended. Such a “hybernated” situation lasted for at least 1 and a half years. During the period, some art studio was transferred to Old Kai Tat Airport venue and the studio of Tsui Pui Wan had organized an installation, which attracted wide public participation.
The Third Stage – To Kwa Wan “Cattle Depot Artist Village” (CDAV) Period In July 2001, the Government Property Agency rented a renovated government property, the ex-quarantine station for...