The Academy of Performing Arts will begin retraining programmes in September as a short-term measure to tackle the brain drain problem in the arts and cultural sectors. But cultural critics said how to keep trained talent in the long term was a more critical issue. The academy will offer intensive short courses to retrain people with technical backgrounds in backstage production. Many people with these skills leave Hong Kong to work in new performance venues, emerging in Macau, said academy associate director Herbert Huey Man-chiu. Macau's casino industry and its related businesses are booming. Dr Huey said the academy last month made several agreements with the national education and cultural ministries to organise exchanges of arts venue administrative staff between the academy and various performing arts institutions in Beijing. This would strengthen the academy's role in the region, he said. But Jim Chim Sui-man, managing director of PIP Cultural Industry - which produces cultural events and trains people - warned that retrained people would not stay long in an industry without vision and which did not provide a sense of belonging. He said his arts group had averaged a staff turnover of 5 per cent over the past few years, a problem that had affected other arts groups. 'How can you ask them [arts professionals] to stay with arts groups without 'homes'?' he asked. Although the government had introduced a venue partnership scheme, Mr Chim said arts groups still had to compete for venues. 'It does not facilitate long-term programme planning.' He said he had advised the government to follow overseas leads and introduce tax incentives. 'Companies which sponsor arts groups should enjoy a lower tax burden. Arts groups can afford higher staff salaries when they are given more resources.'