Artists and designers from across Hong Kong yesterday praised the development of a new cultural hub in the city's Soho neighbourhood for supporting creative enterprises.
Located in Central on the site of the former Hollyroad Road police married quarters, the PMQ centre will offer subsidised studio space to fledgling enterprises, which would otherwise be unable to afford rent in the city, they say.
"The beauty of this place is that it can help the young kids coming out of school: the 22-, 23- and 24-year-olds who need a little bit of space to get their operations started," said George Migliorelli, a leather craftsman who moved his business to PMQ from a "little hole in the wall" in Siu Sai Wan. "There is not much help in Hong Kong for creative industries. This is a good first step," Migliorelli said.
Set for a soft launch on May 9, PMQ may well provide a breath of fresh air for Hong Kong residents tired of shopping centres and chain stories.
The project aims to provide more than 100 studios for tenants in the fields of fashion and product design, furniture, food as well as arts and other crafts, according to PMQ executive director Victor Tsang.
It will also host art exhibitions, night markets and creative workshops in a bid to attract the public and encourage arts in the city, Tsang said.
For Elsa Jean de Dieu, co-founder of artisanal paint shop Effect, the cheaper rent at PMQ played a big role in her decision to set up in the centre.
"The rent in Hong Kong kills the small designer," she said. "Hong Kong is a business city, with not a lot of creativity. But it is becoming more and more artistic."
Rent for the 430 square foot studios could be as low as HK$11,000 per month, but the cost is dependent on the financial needs of the tenants, said PMQ creative director William To.
Funding for the project came primarily from the government - which granted HK$400 million - but also from private donors and sponsors, who donated up to HK$110 million, Tsang said.
The site provided residence for police officers and their families between 1951 and 2000, before undergoing renovations in 2012.