Council to put To Kwa Wan cultural village to 'best use' An artists' village in To Kwa Wan may be turned into a centre for performing arts under a proposal from the Arts Development Council. Council chairman Ma Fung-kwok said preliminary discussions had started with the government and relevant cultural bodies on the future of the Cattle Depot Artists' Village. The historic building and a former abattoir and cattle quarantine station are owned by the Government Property Agency and rented to 20 or so theatre, music and visual arts groups. 'To be honest, the site can be better managed and artists are usually not very good managers,' Mr Ma said. 'Some artists live there, some plant flowers at the site, some use it as their storeroom and some do not even pay rent. 'This site is spacious and very suitable for the performing arts. We have all complained about the lack of venues and working space for local arts groups. So we should make the best use [of any space] when a place is available.' The proposal follows the announcement last week of plans to convert a nine-storey government factory building in Shek Kip Mei into a centre for visual arts. The HK$70 million Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre, to be opened late next year, will offer 100 studios to artists and arts groups for rents of HK$3 to HK$8 a square foot. 'We are also looking for other suitable venues for arts developments,' Mr Ma said. He believed the council would be given extra funds from the government in the next financial year to support budding artists and promote the arts. The council will not be responsible for the funding allocation of six major arts groups from next year, when the Home Affairs Bureau takes over the task. As a result, the council's budget could be slashed from about HK$90 million to HK$50 million. Mr Ma said there should be new funds injected from the bureau, and together with HK$20 million from the Arts and Sports Development Fund designated for the council, the body would still have HK$80 million to spend. 'One option for spending the new money is to support more young arts groups,' he said. 'Another is to step up support to existing arts bodies. I think we should strike a balance between both.' The council's chairman said its two major tasks in future were to help arts groups to secure venues and to perform on the mainland. Mr Ma and leaders of several arts groups had visited the Pearl River Delta last month to explore new opportunities. 'Arts groups need their own space to develop. Also, going to the mainland will definitely raise their horizons and performance levels. It is good for the council to be more focused on budding artists and this will fit into our role as an arts development body.'