CreateHK launches for industry aid

'One-stop office' established to promote creative biz

HONG KONG -- The famously free-market Hong Kong government is taking a firmer hand with its cultural and creative industries, streamlining regulations and pumping money into the sector as part of a wider economic stimulus package.

The new strategy took a step forward Monday with the creation of Create Hong Kong (CreateHK), an office under Hong Kong's Commerce and Development Bureau for the promotion of creative industries in the region.

The office will oversee the now-absorbed Film Services Office, which manages the Film Development Fund and Film Guarantee Fund, as well as the newly approved HK$300 million ($38.7 million) CreateSmart Initiative, which aims to provide financial support to creative industries other than film in Hong Kong. These include design, digital entertainment, advertising and architecture.

"In the past, different branches in the creative industries were supported by different government departments, but there weren't any departments dedicated to some of the branches, such as advertising and architecture. CreateHK was established as a one-stop office to provide support and co-ordination for the creative industries in Hong Kong, and to engage industry representatives more actively," said Alan Siu, deputy secretary for the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau (Communications and Technology) and acting head of CreateHK.

Creative industries count for 4% of Hong Kong's GDP, valued at more than $60 billion ($7.7 billion) annually, according to the latest government statistics. About 32,000 creative industry-related establishments now exist in Hong Kong, with more than 170,000 persons employed.

The goal of CreateHK is to build Hong Kong into a regional creative hub, by nurturing creative talents through internship and recruitment programs, as well as adding film and animation courses in the new high school syllabus. The office also will help start-ups and developments of creative establishments, expand local markets for creative industries, explore markets overseas and in China, and promote exchange between the government and industry.

Its HK$300 million CreateSmart Initiative is set to finance projects instigated by a locally registered company or organization, academic institutes, industry support organizations, trade and industry associations, as well as other government departments and CreateHK itself. However, film-related projects covered under the scope of the HK$300 million Film Development Fund, Film Guarantee Fund and design project covered by the DesignSmart Initiative are not eligible for application for the CreateSmart Initiative.

No upper funding limit for a project has been set, but applications requesting more than HK$10 million ($1.3 million) will be subject to the approval of the Finance Committee of the Hong Kong's Legislative Council.

The open recruitment for the position of head of CreateHK also began on Monday and is expected to conclude before the year's end. The 40-person office of CreateHK includes the existing staff of the Film Services Office.