A row between arts groups and the Arts Development Council appears likely to be defused after a meeting yesterday at which the body promised to clarify its head's recent outburst against 'lazy' artists. During an unprecedented two-hour meeting between members of six leading arts groups and council chairman Dr Patrick Ho Chi-ping, the artists called on the body to issue a formal statement explaining his comments. Dr Ho, who had earlier declined to apologise for the remarks, regretted they had sparked such an outcry. Kwong Wai-lap, general manager of City Contemporary Dance Company, said after the meeting a formal explanation was important for the council to patch up the differences with artists. 'The council must do something to defuse the row or the ill-feeling between the two sides will intensify,' he said. The meeting came nearly two weeks after Dr Ho prompted outrage within the arts community when he said in an interview with Ming Pao newspaper that the council did not want to 'nurture lazy people' and the body's fund-allocation policy was too lenient. His comments prompted more than 200 artists and 40 arts groups to take out a front-page advertisement in the Chinese-language paper last Friday demanding an apology. Council vice-chairman Darwin Chen, who headed the meeting, said members would discuss the details of drafting a statement at a public meeting today. Dr Ho later said he was shocked at the outrage but also glad to see the arts groups showing such unity. Mathias Woo Yan-wai, of theatre group Zuni Isosahedron, said: 'It was the first ever meeting we have had with council members and was quite harmonious. We were not there to look for confrontation.' The proposed statement was not on the agenda of yesterday's meeting, which was called to consider issues including the council's reforms of funding and the chairman's regular report. The two-hour meeting, which the council initially said was internal, opened its doors to the public. A council spokeswoman said afterwards there had been 'a misunderstanding'. Arts groups also pressed the council to rethink its role as a funding body.