Arts should be included in the school curriculum and should no longer be a preserve of privileged children, said educationists at a three-day conference. 'The Arts and Education in Hong Kong: An International Symposium' was organised by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council and was aimed at underlining the importance of arts in students' development. Professor Ken Robinson of the University of Warwick in Britain (see story below), Professor Elliot Eisner of Stanford University in the United States and Oscar-winning producer Sir David Puttnam addressed the conference. Sir Joseph Hotung, founder of the Sir Joseph Hotung Arts Education Endowment Fund and former chairman of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, said less privileged children were deprived of opportunities to participate in arts activities. He said arts subjects were seen as optional in schools, which transformed them into hobbies for students whose parents could afford to provide for them. He said the Government should make arts education a priority and develop a formal curriculum. This would change the attitude that arts subjects were secondary. Director of Education Helen Yu Lai Ching-ping said the Education Department was committed to arts. She said students' performance improved after they participated in arts activities. 'They achieved artistic sensitivity and gained self-esteem in the learning process.' The Education Department gave out grants to schools to promote the teaching of arts. Vincent Chow Wing-shing, chairman of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, said he hoped the public would have a better understanding of arts education through the conference, the first of its kind in Hong Kong.