Creative industry in need of more performance venues

Friday, July 24, 2009
Issue 772, Page 3
Word count: 620
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The local creative industry said yesterday the significant shortage of performance venues was one of the factors that suppressed its development in Macau.

About 20 artists from drama, animation, fashion design and music areas interacted with Chief Executive candidate Fernando Chui Sai On at the “10 Fantasia” creative industry base in the St. Lazarus District.

Cheang Kai Sang, a theatre worker and Joao Ng Seng Hong, the Perosi Choir’s conductor, both highlighted the same issues the industry was facing, which were the lack of theatres or concert halls in Macau and the rare presence of cultural officials in local art performances.

Mr Cheang told the Chief Executive candidate “hardware” – or facilities – played an important role in the development of arts and culture.

At present, the Cultural Centre is the only place that provides two “formal yet starting to become obsolete” theatres, Mr Cheang said, but they were mostly occupied by the two annual major programs – the Macao Arts Festival and the International Music Festival.

He also pointed out that the Dom Pedro V Theatre, after being taken over by the Cultural Affairs Bureau, had become the Macau Orchestra’s own “rehearsal and performance base”, and “rarely lent itself to organisations outside”.

“The amount of shows we can give thus is being limited,” the theatre worker said.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the SAR government build new performance facilities. Let’s not forget the Cultural Centre was built during the Portuguese governance,” he added.

Mr Cheang thus suggested to Mr Chui to turn old cinema sites into theatres.

The Perosi Choir’s conductor agreed. Mr Ng said that despite more arts organisations were founded after the handover, the problem of insufficient performance venues hence became more prominent in Macau.

“Although the Cultural Centre doesn’t have a very high standard concert hall, it’s become a very popular stage for major events every year. There’s no way for community organisations to be able to see the venue even we tried to make the reservation a year ago,” Mr Ng said.

“We saw the construction of sports pavilions one by one after the handover, but didn’t see the same in musical theatres,” he added.

In addition, Mr Cheang and Mr Ng both hoped to see officials from the cultural departments, Macao Foundation and the Cultural Advisory Committee attend more in performances given by local artists, instead of just “giving away funding”.

“The cultural officials’ presence can give encouragement for the artists, understand the organisations’ operations, achievements and the audience’s response,” Mr Ng said.

“If they don’t visit the shows physically, how did they know whether or not the organisations deserved the sponsorships?” he asked.

On the other hand, Macau Artist Society’s president Lai Ieng was concerned about how to support the future growth of the industry and to retain local artists in Macau.

He proposed the setting up of a government department specifically to sustain Macau’s arts development and encourage young artists to create original works.

Other opinions made to Mr Chui yesterday also included to enhance cooperation between the tourism and arts sectors as well as to make use of public places such as parks and car parks for artists to display their works.

In response to all the suggestions, the Chief Executive candidate said if he is elected, he will study ways to reinforce support to artists and push forward the creative industry in Macau.

“Overall we share the same goal which is to help local artists possess better conditions to create and eventually lead to the success of the industry,” Mr Chui said.

Today will be the last day of the election campaign and Mr Chui will meet with the real estate industry at 11am in the Macao Chamber of Commerce.

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