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A rendering of Hong Kong’s forthcoming Kowloon Bay Cultural District
A rendering of Hong Kong’s forthcoming Kowloon Bay Cultural District

HONG KONG'S PRICEY NEW ARTS DISTRICT

June 7, 2011

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A scenic cruise along the South China Sea during last week’s ART HK fair, led by Tate Modern founding director Lars Nittve, was intended to tempt its 100 art-world passengers to consider making a move to Hong Kong’s rich soil. A massive $2.8 billion has been allotted for 15 new performing arts centers, a contemporary art museum, a park and an exhibition space in the upcoming 100-acre cultural district in West Kowloon, reports the International Herald Tribune. Now organizers just need arts administrators to claim the cash and move to the valuable waterfront property.

Doesn’t sound too shabby. For Nittve, it’s a dream job -- he’s already signed on to head up the forthcoming 430,000-square-foot M+ contemporary art museum, and, over the next four to five years, he plans to commission works, build a collection and hire some 400 employees. But there’s one big caveat. The arts institutions will be linked both geographically and financially to a high-end shopping mall, an International Commerce Center skyscraper and a controversial rail line leading to China’s mainland.

“In the case of West Kowloon,” author Alice Poon told the paper, “the government is seeing arts facilities as a way of enhancing land values in this area -- or, at least, that is the perception many people have.”

But for those who don’t mind a little subservience to shoppers, there’s still time to get in on the action -- construction is slated to begin in 2013.

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