Embattled indie music livehouse Hidden Agenda has announced it will be reopening at a new venue and is rebranding as “This Town Needs.”

The venue on Monday morning thanked its audience and supporters and said the Facebook Page will officially be renamed as “This Town Needs” to coincide with its new identity.

The fourth incarnation of Hidden Agenda closed last year after a series of raids by food and hygiene officers and the police.

Hidden Agenda, Kwun Tong. File photo: Tom Grundy.

The name “This Town Needs” is a reference to This Town Needs Guns (TTNG), one of the bands arrested for performing at the venue without a work visa last May. Earlier this month, the band announced on Facebook that the legal charges against them had been dropped and no further action was to be taken.

The venue put on a show called “This Town Needs Live” in July – officially published as a “dress rehearsal,” charging no entrance fee and involving no commercial activity. “This Town Needs Live” also acted as a show organiser and brought American indie rock band DIIV to Hong Kong last September.

“We hope the association with the name can bring reflections upon what the city needs – and we could each do our part to make Hong Kong a better place,” the Facebook post on Monday said.

俾住幾張preview大家止住渴先。地方面積比之前大,配套上亦希望更加完善,務求令大家有更好、更安全嘅環境睇show。地方之大,當然唔只放得落個台,至於其他空間可以用嚟做咩,留返個空格俾大家日後去填。Photos by Tang Kam Hong Kenneth#TTN #更多空間去思考香港需要乜嘢 #歡迎提出意見

Posted by Hidden Agenda: This Town Needs on Sunday, 21 January 2018

“Hopefully, the new venue will open up more creative possibilities in terms of space – for example, there could be exhibitions alongside music shows – there will also be room for resting and chatting, or enjoying a beer while looking out to sea.”

Hidden Agenda did not reveal the exact location, but said said that it was “east of Kowloon East” and that it was located in a mall.

Their page will be updated with more information on the venue in the coming days. The soft opening party will be held on February 24.

Land lease violations 

Hidden Agenda was subjected to numerous raids at each of its four locations since its establishment in 2009, primarily relating to violations of the terms of its industrial land lease.

Land leases for factory buildings typically specify that units must be used for industrial or storage purposes only, but arts and culture groups have said that high rents prevent them from playing in other spaces.

As a unit in an industrial building, the fourth incarnation of Hidden Agenda officially operated as a food factory, having obtained a license from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department. However, the department rejected its applications to register as a place of public entertainment.

Hui Chung-wo, founder of the livehouse, said he suffered over HK$100,000 in losses owing to performance cancellations and an encumbrance order from the Lands Department, while monthly rent for the industrial unit exceeded HK$60,000.

The fourth venue was returned to the landlord in October 2017.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.