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West Kowloon Cultural District Faces Funding Crisis

Government Urged to Address Funding Gap by August

Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) is facing a funding crisis that could force the closure of its museums and performing arts center.

The district’s authority board chair, Henry Tang, has urged the government to address the funding gap by August. WKCD has already submitted a proposal for what to do when the authority’s funds are drained next year, but the administration has not responded.

WKCD recorded net losses that almost doubled from HKD 869 million ($111 million) in 2021 to HKD 1.56 billion ($199 million) in 2022. Despite a 40 percent cost recovery post-pandemic, the arts hub has relied on short-term loans to stay afloat.

Tang has proposed ways to increase revenue, including reviewing service charges, raising ticket prices and venue rental fees, and even selling a portion of the site’s 40 hectares of land. However, he has also questioned whether these measures would be “fair to the public.”

The development of WKCD has a long and complicated history. When the plan was finalized, the arts hub received an upfront endowment of HK$21.6 billion ($2.7 billion) in 2008. However, delays in construction, cost surges, and the Covid-19 pandemic strained its finances.