Hong Kong's got talent? Most definitely. And soon such talent can demonstrate its artistic flair in public spaces - but only by passing an audition in front of a panel of arts experts and government officials. Tentatively called Open Stage, it is hoped that the street performance pilot scheme the Leisure and Cultural Services Department is organising will start before the summer holidays. It is one of the government's measures to cultivate the public's interests in the arts amid development of the West Kowloon Cultural District. Initially, Open Stage will take place in designated open spaces outside the Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui and Sha Tin Marriage Registry, after discussions with district councils. The department would talk to Kwai Tsing council soon, said Winsome Chow, the department's cultural services chief manager. A wide range of performing arts - singing, dancing and drama - is expected. However, a passion for the arts is not enough to get a performer onto the Open Stage. A selection committee, possibly of officials in charge of the scheme and arts experts, will be set up to maintain quality. Street performances were an opportunity to train talent and prepare it for theatres, Chow said. The locations were chosen because they were slightly away from major residential areas, but still in places where a good flow of pedestrians was expected, she said. Details of the scheme had yet to be finalised, Chow said. Sha Tin district councillor Cheng Cho-kwong said the council had helped to identify a site outside the marriage registry for the scheme. It was a popular place though it might be a bit small for performances such as dancing, he said. Planning for the scheme was still in an initial stage, and it was not known what kind of support the council would have to provide, Cheng said. But he expected street performances would be very popular with the local community. 'Residents here have diversified interests, from Cantonese opera to acrobatic shows and pop,' he said. Veteran street performer Banky Yeung Ping-kei, artistic director of FM Theatre Power, said he was sure the government had finally decided to open up space for performing artists, and not limiting the arts to theatres staging highbrow shows. However, he questioned whether the new scheme could deliver on its real purpose - promoting street performances. 'These spaces are open spaces, which are quite different from the streets,' said Yeung, who has a long history of street performances in busy districts such as Mong Kok. 'Thus, the nature of performing in these open spaces could be quite different from performing in an actual street, where you can really interact with the public passing by.' Yeung also hoped the government could provide a clear standard for selection. 'How is it judged? What's the standard? And would you compare that to stage performances? Street performances and stage performances are two completely different things. 'I might want to stay in Causeway Bay or Mong Kok. You have to give a reason to attract artists to perform in those areas.' When drafting the scheme, Yeung hoped there would be clear guidelines on accepting money from the audience. 'If we take money on the street, we will be seen as begging, which is illegal. If we sell souvenirs, it will also be considered illegal. Street performers can never support themselves by doing what they do.' He was also worried that after the launch of the scheme, there would be more control over the street performances in areas outside the designated ones. Yeung hoped the department would discuss the scheme with street performers. 'We are always happy to provide suggestions,' he said. 'But in the long run, there should be cultural policy on street performances and licences provided for qualified street performers.'