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Culture bureau “grants financial support without evaluating content”

Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC) President Mok Ian Ian said that the bureau does not look into content when it grants local associations financial support for their activities, in response to sponsoring an event that invited three authors whose presence was reportedly deemed “inappropriate” by the local authorities.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:50 am

Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC) President Mok Ian Ian said Tuesday that the bureau does not look into content when it grants local associations financial support for their activities, in response to sponsoring an event that invited three authors whose presence was reportedly deemed “inappropriate” by the local authorities.

Mok made the comments during a press conference at MGM Macau about the 29th Macau Arts Festival (MAF).

Mok said that she only found out in the media on Monday that the authors, who had been invited to attend The Script Road – The Literary Festival, would not be allowed to enter Macau.

Organisers of the literature-fest told reporters earlier this week they have been informed “semi-officially” that it was “inappropriate” for writers Jung Chang (Zhang Rong), Suki Kim and James Church to attend the literary festival and that their entry into Macau could not be guaranteed.

The books of UK-based China-bom writer Chang are banned on the mainland, Kim is an American-Korean writer who reportedly lived undercover in North Korea, and Church is the pseudonym of an American author of detective novels featuring a North Korean policeman.

In response to the incident, Mok said that the bureau supports local associations holding activities that benefit the city’s cultural development.

“We usually don’t evaluate the content in the process [of approving their applications for financial support], Mok said, repeatedly saying that the bureau has a “positive, open and supportive attitude” in response to the incident involving the literary festival, a private event sponsored by the government and private enterprises.

For this year’s Macau Arts Festival (MAF), which takes place from April 27 to May 31, Mok said that while the bureau has managed to keep the budget down to 22 million patacas, three percent less than last year, the programme was still rich, with collaborations between overseas and local performers as a result of many years of exchanges and experience.

With “Origin” as the theme, the MAF comprising 26 programmes in seven categories will open with “Das Kapital” by the Shanghai Dramatic Arts centre which showcases “a new version of Karl Marx’s grand classic in celebration of the 200th anniversary of his birth, incorporating Macau elements and illustrating

The MAF will conclude with “ 13 Tongues” a dance, music and folklore performance by dance group Cloud Gate 2.

Among the programmes is a play called “Pissed Julie”,which MAF commissioned Singaporean group Nine Years Theatre to coproduce, where performers from Macau and Singapore present a piece that is adapted from the acclaimed “Miss Julie”, written by Swedish playwright August Strindberg in 1888.

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:50 am

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