A group of local artists yesterday gathered at the Hong Kong Museum of Art to protest against what they call a misuse of public funds and the venue's support of an exhibition that 'is more about advertising than art'. The Louis Vuitton: A Passion for Creation exhibition features works by the likes of noted artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Cao Fei. But it also features material tracing the history of the luxury brand - and samples of its wares - and this, coupled with the almost HK$6 million the Leisure and Cultural Services Department stumped up to help stage the event, has raised the ire of about 20 local artists. 'It's tacky, and to see the premier art venue in Hong Kong reduced to this has disgusted not only us, but a lot of the members of the public we have been talking to,' explained contemporary visual artist Kacey Wong, a member of the 'Art Museum Concern Group'. As well as staging protests and handing out flyers outside the Museum of Art over the past month, the group has sent letters to both Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen and the museum's chief curator, Tang Hoi-chiu, expressing their concerns and demanding an explanation as to why more money had been spent on helping fund the exhibition than the HK$4 million the venue actually turned over in revenue over the past 12 months. 'LV certainly doesn't need the money,' Wong said. 'And while, as artists, we do appreciate the company's support for culture, we want to know why the exhibit was allowed to look like such a commercial enterprise. It is more about advertising than art. 'With the West Kowloon Cultural District being planned, it sets a worrying precedent. The LV logo is everywhere you look - what happens if some far less credible brand starts throwing money at the government and we have the museum packaged up like a diaper or something? Hong Kong will become a laughing stock.' The LV exhibition has been running for the past month as part of Le French May arts activities and has been well attended, according to the department. 'The museum is of the view that this exhibition will enhance the public's appreciation and understanding of contemporary art from different angles and perspectives,' a department spokesman said. The department's spending on the exhibition went on 'local costs', he added. Jean-Baptiste Debains, president of Louis Vuitton Asia Pacific, said his company organised the exhibition after a request from the French consulate. 'We did not intend to make this exhibition a commercially themed venture but a project to promote art and creativity,' he said. 'The exhibition was curated purely from an artistic perspective and intended to bring together a number of significant large-scale works by international and Chinese artists, reflecting an energetic urban landscape. 'By bringing to Hong Kong international artists and contemporary art masterpieces, we hope to generate interest and curiosity among the public and the visitors, for creativity and contemporary art,' he added. The exhibition ends on August 9.