The Ox Warehouse, a local art space and association, has struck a deal with a partner from the private sector to secure a place to hold its artistic activities starting April 2018, according to information provided to Business Daily by its curator, Si Wun Cheng.
In June, the Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC) asked the association to leave its current premises – located at the crossroads of Avenues Coronel Mesquita and Almirante Lacerda, in the northwest of Macau – by the end of its annual contract, on September 30.
The deal Ox Warehouse has negotiated with the private initiative came after it had approached the government about possible locations to set up a new art space, without success.
The space’s curator advanced that the partner from the private sector is a “culture-related” entity, but said she could not disclose more information at this moment “because the deal has not been implemented yet.”
Ms Si added that the place is a “private space,” and that the partner is involved “just to provide the place, without any other [financial] investment.”
“For Macau the place is very important. Rents are too expensive, so space becomes an obstacle to development,” she stressed.
Ms Si explained that the group had visited and considered several places in the Macau peninsula, mostly “small galleries,” because “it is not easy to find a place as big as the Ox Warehouse.”
From October 2017 to April 2018, the association will not have a home.
According to Ms Si, they are also still looking for a place “to store their things,” as they have been kept busy conducting the final artistic activities before they leave the premises.
“We may have time in September to find a place. We are looking for something cheap. It could be an underground unit or shop, since it is just for storage,” she said.
As for the activities to be carried out in the meantime, the curator clarified that they are considering asking the government “to borrow some space” on a project basis, giving the example of possibly organizing an exhibition at the old courthouse as a way for the association to continue conducting its activities.
Moving out again
At the end of 2016, IC requested that the association leave the premises it has occupied for nearly 14 years, although the case only became publicly known in June this year.
“Our contract was renewed on an annual basis and they [IC] said they would not renew it this time, without giving us any clear reason,” Ms Si explained.
Although the Cultural Bureau said it would continue to “use the space for cultural activities,” the Ox Warehouse’s curator claimed, it has not yet announced its plans for the future use of the space.
Ms Si believes the government might carry out a public tender to allocate the space.
It is the second time the group formerly named the Old Ladies House has been asked to move out. The first time, it was asked to leave one of the houses that makes up the complex which is known today as the Albergue, in Saint-Lazarus Parish.
Founded in March 2002, the Ox Warehouse is a private and non-profit art association. The space it operates under the same name is a cultural and contemporary art venue open to local artists and art associations, where they propose exhibitions and develop activities in collaboration with the local community, as well as artists from the region and beyond.