Unsurprisingly, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's policy speech last week again showed the government's apparent stance on culture and the creative arts industry: very minimalist in approach and highly conceptual in nature. Minimalist because Mr Tsang promised - characteristically without details - that the government would build a 'creative arts centre' in a vacant Shekkipmei factory in Kowloon. Conceptual because Mr Tsang said studies - whenever or by whoever, nobody knows - would also be done to help develop the cultural and creative industries. And hyper-conceptual, as Mr Tsang vaguely vowed the government 'will consider' setting up a think-tank to promote local talent and expertise. In any case, in the spirit of teasing out the government's cultural and arts policy, Weekender canvassed the views of some players in Hong Kong's burgeoning arts scene. Three subjects - a practising artist, a curator of a publicly subsidised arts space and the owner-director of a privately funded gallery - were asked to fantasise about writing their own arts policy speeches. The results, as with most things in the art world, are inspiring - and controversial. First off is John Batten, the owner-director of an eponymous gallery in SoHo, off Elgin Street. Mr Batten is known for his bluntness and he minces no words on the undemocratic genesis of the highly contentious West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) project. 'This is a multibillion-dollar project and no one - either government officials or any of the architectural designers [who joined the design contest for the district] - has actually canvassed opinions of this project's potential users, such as the commercial art galleries.' At the very basic level, he wonders why the government is insisting on building an arts and cultural precinct in West Kowloon when Hong Kong Island is host to an art district that has grown and evolved organically. 'Let me be very blunt - the West Kowloon area will not and never will be Hong Kong's art and entertainment area,' he says. 'The reality is, it is already in place and it is on Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong's art galleries have already decided and it is obvious why the SoHo area has emerged as the pre-eminent arts area: good transportation, including the Mid-Levels escalator, reasonable rents, proximity to the Central Business District and Hollywood Road's antique shops, Lan Kwai Fong and a middle-class neighbourhood.' Of course, all of these will likely change with the government's plan to 'regenerate' the SoHo area through a massive 'urban renewal project' - Mr Batten's current bete noire. Joel Ferraris, a Filipino artist based in Hong Kong who has been involved in some public mural projects, also wonders why the government is willing to spend so much money on WKCD. He believes the city has a surfeit of potential art space - the huge lobbies of privately owned buildings. 'The spacious lobbies and other strategic spaces indoors and outdoors could offer suitable exhibition venues and other art-and-culture-related events to artists. These must be all for free. Therefore, there's no need actually to build more exhibition areas or centres and waste more money,' he says. German-born Tobias Berger, executive director and curator of Para/Site Art Space in Sheung Wan, also has some concerns about the WKCD. 'The planned [cultural district] will include a new super-sized museum. Unfortunately, its form, function, content and finances are a mystery at the moment,' he says. 'It seems like it will be another attempt of the Hong Kong government to have private investors pay for the building and running of cultural institutions instead of taking own responsibility.' Mr Berger's group is actually one of a handful of grant recipients of the government-funded Hong Kong Arts Development Council. Still, he believes more can be done, such as encouraging arts exchanges between Hong Kong and the rest of the Pearl River Delta. Mr Batten says another problem that has led to a seemingly stunted growth in the local arts market is the lack of a reliable base of collectors. He says one glaring policy fault is the way the government has structured its culture and arts institutions - largely through the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) - which are dominated by bureaucrats who hardly interact with the arts community. 'The LCSD [with a budget of more than $2 billion] makes up the greatest amount of arts and cultural funding in Hong Kong but most of this goes to mid-management bureaucrats 'managing' events or venues,' he says. 'This is a serious waste of public money.' Mr Batten recalls meeting two Singapore Tourist Board officials who found their way into his gallery. 'I was invited to participate in the next Singapore Art Fair. They also informed me about tax concessions and other incentives if I were to relocate my business from Hong Kong to Singapore.' So far, Mr Batten has decided to stay. Although the expected spike in rents from the government's SoHo regeneration project may just force him to move down south to Singapore - another gallery less just when Hong Kong needs a legion of them to fill West Kowloon.