Hong Kong and mainland artists could earn a long stay in France care of the annual Le French May. This year's event is setting up La Fondation des Artistes to give established Hong Kong and mainland artists the chance to spend a few months in France to acquaint themselves with French and European culture. According to French Consul-General Thierry Dana, the gala fund-raising evening will take place in the Government House ballroom on Monday; Tung Chee-hwa will be the guest of honour as the new foundation's patron. An award-winning chef will be flown in to create a six-course 'Loire Valley' dinner for the 200 guests paying $60,000 to $80,000 for a table of 10. The highlight will be a performance by Parisian soprano Elizabeth Vidal. 'We are so happy that we got permission to use Government House for such a special occasion,' said Mr Dana, whose office spent six months planning the event. Mr Dana also says a committee of high-profile people connected with the arts and headed by T. T. Tsui will select artists worthy of the award. 'This is not a scholarship as we are looking at established artists rather than students. And it is open to artists from all fields from the visual and performing arts to movie, music and architecture,' he said. 'There is already a tradition of cultural exchanges between France and China. This foundation will hopefully strengthen the ties by bringing Chinese artists to France.' Le French May 1998 starts next week with events ranging from the Ballet du Nord and jazz to a techno night and a retrospective of Olivier Debre, one of the most important post-war abstract painters who will be present at the opening.