Hidden Agenda, an independent music performance venue operator, said it can no longer sustain its business amid mounting losses.
Since May, the outfit had to cancel 15 concerts, which resulted in the loss of over HK$100,000 in ticket and deposit refunds, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Founder Hui Chung-wo said running the venue is a costly exercise, with monthly expenses running at HK$84,000, including rentals, HK$62,000; management fees, HK$2,000; wages, HK$10,000; and electric bills, HK$10,000.
Having failed to obtain a public entertainment license from the government, Hui said he had to cancel the performances of several overseas bands, including Taiwan’s Low and Britain’s Dragonforce.
“If either of the two could have come and performed here, it would have helped me pay the monthly rent,” he said.
Hui has been running Hidden Agenda for nearly a decade, having hosted the performances of more than 600 local and overseas bands.
There is no place for independent performance venues in Hong Kong, he said.
Those operated by the government are too big with up to several thousand seats, making it financially unviable for smaller bands.
On the other hand, smaller venues such as community centers usually do not have the proper lighting and sound equipment to host a musical performance.
As there are fewer than five private performance venues in Hong Kong, Hui said, the closure of Hidden Agenda would definitely have an impact on the local independent music scene.
As to whether regulations could be relaxed to allow musical and cultural activities inside industrial buildings, lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu said incoming Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has been quoted as saying that there is room for discussion for such activities to be held in industrial building units below the sixth floor, including a possible review of fire and safety regulations.
Kwong said he is going to try to set up a meeting between Lam and industrial building artists, including Hui Chung-wo, before July 15 when Hidden Agenda is expected to fold.
Cultural critic Clarisse Yeung Suet-ying, who is also a member of the arts group ARTicipants, was scheduled to meet with Chief Town Planner of Planning Phoebe Chan Yuen-mei from the Planning Department on Friday to discuss the possible use of 183 vacated school premises for arts and cultural activities.
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