Street actors seek new chance

Local | Stella Wong 13 Jul 2018

Mong Kok's street performers have set up an alliance to self-regulate noise level in return for delaying elimination of their weekend performance zone in Sai Yeung Choi Street.

The alliance, formed by about 20 performing groups, said they were "extremely shocked and regretful" at the Transport Department's decision to close the pedestrian zone and reopen the street to traffic from August 4.

The decision means that the zone will operate for the last time on July 29.

The group handed a letter to the department and Yau Tsim Mong District Council yesterday, urging them to delay the closure until late September as they initially promised.

"We hope the department can give performers more time, so that they can self-regulate the noise level and gain support from the public," said Ng Chi-fai, a committee member of the alliance.

The alliance promised to control the sound level of the performances to within 85 decibels. In the past, it could reach 92 to 93 decibels, Ng said.

He said performers and the alliance will buy sound measurers to monitor their noise level every night, hoping to show the public that Hong Kong street performing culture could ensure "no nuisance to citizens, no road blocking and no inconvenience to shops" through self-regulation by performers.

Ng said the department had initially told them at a meeting on May 24 that there would be a four-month study before confirming the details. But on Wednesday it gave the firm date - in less than two months' time.

Ng said they "certainly want to keep the pedestrian zone permanently," as it preserved Hong Kong's uniquely diversified culture and allowed the public to show their talent.

But if the department refused to delay closure the alliance would ask the government to provide another venue, he said.

Meanwhile, Yau Tsim Mong District councillor Andy Yu Tak-po said in a radio program yesterday that he had conducted a trial at the zone in June, inviting performers to keep within 85 decibels. Shops, pedestrians and performers all found it acceptable, he said.

He advised the government to launch a licensing system regulating the number of performers, and introducing a scheme to penalize those who exceeded the sound level.

Another councilor, Chan Siu-tong, supported the decision to reopen the zone to traffic.

Chan said the government set up the pedestrian zone because the road was overcrowded with vehicles and pedestrians. It initially aimed to open up a space for relaxing for pedestrians.

"But it ended up with the road becoming narrower," he said.

Chan said the government should not set up any pedestrian zone before regulating activities by legislation.

He suggested setting up an "art performance zone" at other places.

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