Hong Kong gov’t reveals it gave HK$7.8 million for ‘Chubby Hearts’ after earlier declining to disclose amount

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Hong Kong gov’t reveals it gave HK.8 million for ‘Chubby Hearts’ after earlier declining to disclose amount

A government fund contributed around HK$7.8 million for an open-air art installation of giant heart-shaped balloons around Hong Kong, a Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau (CSTB) spokesperson has said, after the bureau earlier declined to reveal the amount provided for the event.

A Chubby Hearts balloon pops up in Kennedy Town on February 14, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP. Credit: KYLE_LAM.Y.K

Launched on Wednesday, Chubby Hearts Hong Kong is part of the authorities’ drive to bring large-scale “mega events” to the city to boost an economy struggling to recover after all Covid-19 restrictions were lifted early last year. It was organised by the Hong Kong Design Centre, with funding support from the government’s Mega Arts and Cultural Events (ACE) Fund.

Since its unveiling, the heart balloons have popped up at various locations across the city, attracting couples to pose in front of them as well as criticism. In a Thursday Facebook post, shareholder activist David Webb questioned how much the installation had cost taxpayers.

The Chubby Hearts Hong Kong Launch Event at Statue Square Gardens, Central, on February 14, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.
The Chubby Hearts Hong Kong launch event at Statue Square Gardens, Central, on February 14, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

In an emailed response to HKFP on Thursday, the CSTB did not respond to a question asking how much funding the organiser of the Chubby Hearts exhibition had received from the ACE fund.

HKFP subsequently put in an access to information request on Friday afternoon, before receiving a response from the CSTB soon after 6 pm.

A CSTB spokesperson told HKFP by email that the HK$7.8 million funding covered “covering “curation, exhibit production and display, creation by local designers and artists, staff and security, market research, local and overseas promotion expenses.”

It also added that the event organiser will only receive the funding if they complete the project and submit an activity report.

Chubby hearts, opening ceremony
Opening ceremony for the Chubby Hearts Hong Kong on February 14, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Chief Executive John Lee announced the establishment of a fund to support major cultural happenings during his 2022 Policy Address.

The CSBT later told lawmakers the maximum funding amount for each project was HK$15 million, but the ACE committee could adjust that amount for a specific project’s requirements, if necessary.

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