Hong Kong’s West Kowloon District May Soon Run out of Funding


The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA), an arts hub in Hong Kong which operates the M+ museum and the Hong Kong Palace Museum, will run out of funding next March and may need to acquire additional loans if a new finance plan is not approved by the city’s government.

That was the warning from WKCDA CEO Betty Fung on February 14 in regard to the status of the hub’s HK$21.6 billion (approximately USD$2.75 billion) funding, endowed by the city’s legislature in 2008.

Fung told local media outlets that the WKCDA had recorded over 4 million visits in the 2022–23 year, with M+ drawing 2.7 million visitors and the Hong Kong Palace Museum attracting 1.25 million people.

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HONG KONG, CHINA - NOVEMBER 09: People take a selfie inside an art installation while visiting 'Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now' exhibition at M+ Museum on November 9, 2022 in Hong Kong, China. (Photo by Li Zhihua/China News Service via Getty Images)

She said she was confident that an increase in special exhibitions would boost visitor attendance this year, according to the Hong Kong Free Press. Revenue from ticket sales at the two museums covered nearly half of expenses, “on par or even exceeding internationally renowned museums,” she said. But it left the WKCDA to pay for the remainder of costs for exhibitions, insurance, transportation, electricity, management, and salaries.

“Currently, the district relies on borrowing loans,” Fung said, according to the Standard. “The worst-case scenario for the authority would be to continue relying on borrowed funds.”

According to WKCDA’s latest annual report, the self-financed arts hub has seen a deficit of over HK$1.3 billion in 2023, already down from HK$1.5 billion in the year earlier.

While a plan aimed at boosting the arts hub’s income was submitted to the Hong Kong government last year, Fung said the WKCDA had not yet received a reply. She urged the government to speed up its approval, as further uncertainty around the arts hub’s finances could hinder the museum’s ability to plan future exhibitions in collaboration with international institutions.

The Hong Kong Free Press reported that details of the WKCDA’s proposal have not been made public and are not known.

On February 14, Cultures, Sports and Tourism secretary Kevin Yeung said that authorities would continue to work with the WKCDA.

“The government invested a great amount of recourses when the West Kowloon Cultural District was established, as well as offered assistance in its land [acquisition] and construction,” Yeung told reporters, speaking in Cantonese, according to the Hong Kong Free Press. “We will continue to work with them to solve the problems.”

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