Performers find it hard on the road

Local | Cindy Wan 8 Nov 2018

Complaints against street performers have doubled in number since the Mong Kok pedestrian zone was scrapped.

Performers who used Sai Yeung Choi Street South as their stage moved to other locations after Tsim Mong District Council scrubbed out the pedestrian zone in May.

But many residents and shops in other districts have given the performers the cold shoulder since their arrivals, with complaints against informal entertainers rising drastically.

Lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok, who represents the Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication sector, asked Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah at the Legislative Council yesterday about the situation and whether he planned to tackle the complaints.

Lau responded by agreeing that complaints were up. Between May and September there were 45 recorded compared to 25 in the corresponding period last year.

They went to various departments, Lau added, and there may have been more as police do not keep records of complaints against street performers.

Additionally, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department received 246 complaints related to performers at venues it manages between May and September, but that was a slight drop on the period last year when there were 282. Asked if there could be a licensing mechanism, Lau said if there was such a system "the public may hold different views on designating performance space in densely-populated areas or streets."

For instance, Lau said, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department's Open Stage Pilot Scheme near Sha Tin Town Hall had not been well received.

There, performers must pass an audition in front of representatives of the cultural sector, Sha Tin District Council and Sha Tin Town Hall officials before being approved to perform in the public space.

But of 26 applications last year only seven were approved, and a small percentage made it previously.

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