Drama should become part of the curriculum in local schools in order to keep pace with the development of the arts in Hong Kong, a conference heard. Fears that drama studies could interfere with other lessons, or that there was not enough space to stage plays were unfounded, said Chung King-fai, chairman of the Federation of Drama Societies. He told a seminar on theatre in Chinese communities, held at the Second Chinese Drama Festival, that a certain amount of drama education could strengthen students' self-expression, relationships, confidence and imagination. He said an increase in the number of graduates from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts could meet any shortage of drama tutors. As for concerns about space, he said: 'A stage is the only thing we need for drama training.' Adding drama studies to the curriculum would give the 'fundamental training' required to meet the needs of theatre and television entertainment in Hong Kong. Mr Chung was among more than 60 speakers from Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, Taiwan, Japan and the United States who took part in the seminar at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CU). The crafts of acting, directing, stage design, sound and lighting were more developed in Hong Kong than script-writing skills, he said. 'None of these components can be ignored when talking about a good play,' Mr Chung said. 'It is understandable that few people will join the [theatrical] profession because it is difficult to earn a living in a materialistic place like Hong Kong.' He said the change of sovereignty had inspired many local performers. 'They gained inspiration from social issues since the Joint Declaration was signed. From 1984 onwards, topics like immigration, the single parent family, the brain drain, Sino-British relations and mainland- Taiwan relations became popular.' Ambrose King Yeo-chi, pro vice- chancellor of CU, said the seminars provided an opportunity for those involved in theatre to discuss the development of Chinese drama. 'The new millennium is a big challenge for Chinese drama. On the one hand we want to pass on our heritage to the next generation. On the other we have to adjust our tradition a bit to adapt to the cultural impact and the change of audience's preferences,' he said. 'Western culture creates a big impact on us whether in culture, social structure, aesthetics or thought.'