Monday, September 5, 2011

New West Kowloon CEO Named

Monday, September 5, 2011

An Australian has been named to take over as chief executive of the multibillion-dollar West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, which has been plagued with delays and an executive reshuffling.

Michael Lynch, the 60-year-old  former chief executive of the Sydney Opera House and South Bank arts complex in London, has signed a three-year contract for the top position at the Cultural Authority. He will assume his duties in Hong Kong on July 25, authority Chairman Henry Tang said Friday.

Mr. Lynch fills the vacancy created when Graham Sheffield stepped down as chief executive of the 21.6 billion Hong Kong dollar government project (US$2.8 billion) in January, citing health reasons.

Plans for the district now seem to be moving forward. In March, the cultural authority selected  a design by architect by Norman Foster and his firm, Foster + Partners, dubbed “City Park” for the 40-hectare waterfront arts complex. The other two proposed plans, one by Hong Kong firm Rocco Design Architects Ltd. and the other by Office for Metropolitan Architecture, led by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, may also be integrated into the design.

Indeed, Mr. Lynch, who is currently board director of the Australian Broadcasting Corp., said he intends to see construction begin  by the time his three-year contract expires. After three years, the board will decide whether to offer to extend his term.

“This is the biggest and most complex art project in the world,” he said. “We’re about to move into ‘do’ phase rather than ‘talk’ phase.”

As for the type of programming he hopes to attract to the district, he says it “needs to reflect the art forms people are interested in,” adding that “freedom of expression is the mantra for what we’d be doing.”

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