HERITAGE IN DANGER
Advocacy Efforts Have Positive Repercussions:
State Theatre in Hong Kong
by G.W. Grey and S.F. Liu, Hong Kong, 1952
DOCOMOMO International’s advocacy efforts for State Theatre were decisive in the grading process being conducted by the Antiquities and Advisory Board of Hong Kong.
On 23rd March 2016, Professor Ana Tostões, DOCOMOMO International Chair, addressed a letter to the Chairman and all members of the Antiquities Advisory Board, to the Executive Secretary of the Antiquities and Monuments Office, to the Commissioner for Heritage and to the Secretary for Development of the Government of Hong Kong, urging them to take the lead in the preservation of State Theatre.
In addition, a report by Professor Dr.-Ing. Jos Tomlow, from Zittau/Görlitz University of Applied Sciences and member of DOCOMOMO International Specialist Committee on Technology, was enclosed to the letter, stating the architectural and historical value of State Theatre. A heritage alert was also published on DOCOMOMO International’s website and facebook page, in order to draw attention to the matter.
On 15th April 2016, the group Walk in Hong Kong, the Conservancy Association and Docomomo Hong Kong also made a joint statement to the Antiquities Advisory Board, urging them to assess the building with no lower than Grade 1 – “buildings of outstanding merit, which every effort should be made to preserve if possible”.
On 18th April 2016, the Antiquities and Advisory Board (AAB) discussed the assessment of State Theatre and a considerable number of members spoke in favour of a higher grading than the Grade 3 previously proposed by the Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO). The AAB decided to postpone the decision and requested the AMO to conduct comprehensive research on the building before considering the grading further. In the meanwhile, any redevelopment or alteration applications related to State Theatre will be closely monitored by the AMO.
DOCOMOMO International is very pleased to know that all efforts to raise awareness on the heritage significance of State Theatre had a positive repercussion. The initiatives taken by the group Walk in Hong Kong, the Conservancy Association and DOCOMOMO Hong Kong are greatly appreciated. Hopefully, a fair grading will be given to State Theatre and the building will be duly preserved for future generations.
Please refer to the report by Professor Dr.-Ing. Jos Tomlow of Zittau/Görlitz University of Applied Sciences and also a member of Docomomo International Specialist Committee on Technology: Tomlow, J., Report on the preservation of the State Theatre in Hong Kong and its possible nomination on a Heritage list (1952). Zittau, Hochschule Zittau/Görlitz, 2016.
Update: The final decision of the Antiquities Advisory Board was to upgrade the grading from Grade 3 to Grade 1. Recognizing State Theatre’s historical and cultural significance to Hong Kong, New World Development Limited acquired 95% of the complex as its first conservation project.
For the write-up of State Theatre, visit: https://www.docomomo.hk/project/state-theatre/