UNMAPPED FIELD\troot_ARCHIVEENTRY_METADATA_cci_tag_label\t=\t'EXHIBITIONS' The world renowned Royal Academy of Arts has set its sights on Hong Kong and West Kowloon as part of its planned expansion in Asia and the Middle East. Although it is still an empty piece of land, the site of the future arts hub - along with government museums - is under consideration by the privately funded institution as a location for its first touring exhibition next year. Future collaboration is also on the cards. Academy chief executive Charles Saumarez Smith says he will take the opportunity during a visit to Hong Kong this week to get to know arts leaders and 'get a feel as how we might operate, and if there are opportunities in which we could work together'. But before establishing any permanent fixture, the academy will bring a travelling selling exhibition to Asia for the first time in the autumn of next year, following a model based on the academy's annual Summer Exhibition that has run since 1769. Finding a suitable site will be part of Saumarez Smith's mission for his visit to Hong Kong during which he will also attend a talk by Chinese artist Zhang Huan at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on Saturday during the ART HK fair. He said Swire buildings that had been used for exhibitions in the past were a possibility for the exhibition, while West Kowloon 'seems to be imaginable', but no decisions had been made. Founded in 1768 by 34 artists and architects, the Royal Academy of Arts has become one of London's most important places to showcase art as well as a leading educational institution featuring a highly selective postgraduate programme admitting only 20 students a year. Saumarez Smith said several cities, including Hong Kong, had shown interest in replicating the model of an academy led by artists, and the academy had been exploring international partnerships. 'I'm not going to pretend that we are the only people interested in this idea of a slightly global operation,' he said. 'There are cities besides Hong Kong - mainly in the Middle East - which have expressed an interest in thinking through the issue as to how an institution like ours could work in other parts of the world.' He did not say whether an overseas arm of the academy could be established in Hong Kong, but said it was 'not unimaginable' that the development of West Kowloon would open the doors to collaboration. Last year, the Savannah College of Art and Design opened its first Asian branch in Hong Kong at the historic North Kowloon Magistracy building. Art critic and programme director of Chinese University's MA in cultural management Oscar Ho said that with the poor economies and severe funding cuts in the US and Europe, overseas institutions expanding in Asia was a common trend. Even though Hong Kong was a small market, locating here could help the institutions open up a regional market and develop networks and projects on the mainland. Saumarez Smith said the travelling exhibition was seen as a way of establishing international links. 'As the art world becomes more international and more globalised, [the academy] is certainly taking the view supported by other academicians that it's in our interest to work in an appropriate way internationally,' he said. It is understood that the exhibition will feature more than 100 works, half of them by artists represented by the Academy and the others from leading Asian artists. The exhibition will begin in Singapore, then tour Hong Kong, Tokyo and either Taiwan or South Korea. Proceeds of the sales will go towards the costs of the postgraduate students' studies. A spokesman for the Leisure and Cultural Services department said it had started a dialogue with an agent working with the Royal Academy of Arts to explore opportunities for organising a major exhibition in Asia.