The move by Para/Site Art Space, a veteran of Hong Kong's non-profit art galleries, to a site almost five times larger than its present 1,100sqft premises, raises several questions. Can the gallery rise to the challenge, given the obstacles a non-profit outfit faces working on this scale? Considering its notoriously underfunded status, how will it support and sustain such a move? Will it have an impact on the local art scene? Taken as a whole, this move can be seen as phase two of the organisation's transition from a small, artist-run space to a mid-size, curator-driven gallery. Phase one was the hiring of director and curator Tobias Berger and the move to its present site in 2004. In Berger's eyes this is a big step, not just to a new space, but towards the 'set-up of a totally new institution' requiring a 'long-term perspective'. But here's the eternal question in the non-profit art world: how will the gallery pay for it? To the rescue comes property developer Sino Group, who's been very active in the art world of late. In an unprecedented move, it's willing to donate the basement space in Hollywood Centre (a former supermarket at the junction of Possession Street and Hollywood Road). And it's a good location, as Berger notes. 'If you want to have a cool space, and you want to be in the city [but avoid Central rents], Sheung Wan is the place to go.' Of course, there's a catch - Para/Site must pay all the management fees, almost doubling their present rent. So, even with the donation, it will be tight financially. However, Berger says it's possible. 'We plan to sell portfolios of artists' work and get more private funding ... Overall, we can sustain it by using the space to expand our presence and then our funding base.' The economics and sustainability may be a little questionable, but not Berger's drive or optimism. Compared to the present claustrophobic site, the venue deserves this optimism as it offers entirely new curatorial possibilities. It's an oddly semi-circular layout - open, yet anything but a white cube. In other words, it's just quirky enough to be a fantastic art space. Berger's initial thoughts for the new space are broad strokes. 'First of all, you would see fewer but bigger, higher quality shows. Then there's the potential for more research, and more co-operation with other [regional or local] spaces,' he says. More collaboration and fewer shows means more money per show and extra time to prepare, leading to a more cohesive, assured programme. In this way, Berger hopes to help change the perception that Hong Kong's art community sometimes lacks professionalism. He says changing these perceptions is vital, especially in relation to the mainland. For example, most overseas visitors looking for contemporary art go to Vitamin Creative Space in Guangzhou, OCAT in Shenzhen, and the Macau Museum. Therefore, Berger sees this transition as an opportunity to raise performance and expectations here, where quality, professionalism and interaction with the greater art world might become the norm. Regionally, Berger is actively involved with the Pearl River Delta (PRD), shown both in past shows and in the first 'test' exhibition in the new space, Dream a Little Dream, which opened on Friday, featuring artists from Macau, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Looking ahead, the first 'official' show at the new location will be a major PRD exhibition, followed by a travelling European show of PRD artists. Clearly, Berger has concrete strategies for connecting regional art with the rest of the world. As to more international work here, Berger is again optimistic. 'We can start collaborations with bigger institutions, bringing previously unavailable artists here and showing more Hong Kong and PRD artists to the world.' For Berger, this is 'about putting Hong Kong into a more professional frame. You'll finally see a space where art is presented like it should be presented'. Osage Gallery's current show at its new exhibition space inside a Kwun Tong industrial building is a positive example. Hong Kong needs an art space that's willing to step up, take a risk and overcome the inertia in the art community. Whether Para/Site can live up to all this is another matter. As Berger astutely points out: 'It's not only what we do in that space, it's what we do with the space - what we do outside. How we leverage that space to build credibility and show better art.' Indeed, if Para/Site can make this happen, a professional, connected and respected art space will turn out to be good not only for the art space itself, but for Hong Kong art overall.