The recent appointment of Alison Friedman, an Irish-American, as artistic director for performing arts of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority has faced intense criticism from local performers.
But Henry Tang Ying-yen, the authority’s new chairman, defended Friedman’s appointment. “It is my view that we have selected the best person for the job because it is important that if we want to build an international, first-class cultural center, we must have first-class people,” Tang told reporters after presiding over a board meeting on Tuesday.
According to Apple Daily, Tang dismissed criticism that the authority had broken its promise to appoint an independent director for the Chinese opera section.
“Alison is very familiar with the Chinese culture and has lived in Beijing for more than 10 years. She was very successful in Beijing,” he said.
Liza Wang Ming-chun, a prominent actress and the chairman of the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong, which represents more than 1,000 Cantonese opera performers, earlier said Friedman lacked knowledge and experience in Chinese opera, or xiqu.
Wang also accused the authority of insisting on the wrong notion that the best way to put the arts hub on the international map was to hire foreigners.
Tang said a Chinese opera head will be appointed to work with Friedman.
But, according to Wang, the authority had earlier promised to hire another director to be in charge specifically of xiqu – not just a “head” as Tang had suggested.
When asked about this, Tang replied: “We always live by what we say. Therefore, we will be appointing someone who is very knowledgeable about xiqu.”
Asked if Wang was a suitable person to be in charge of xiqu, Tang said Wang did not apply for the job, adding that he would announce the candidates soon.
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