Feeling stifled at home, many members of Hong Kong's artistic community are moving to Beijing and other mainland cities, where audiences are eager to explore innovative ideas and performances. Miriam Zhang reports.
Beijing is experiencing an immigration boom of sorts, as artists from Hong Kong head to the city in search of opportunities they are unlikely to find at home.
The exodus has been spurred by increasing artistic freedom in the capital and the government's preferential policies for artists, not to mention the Chinese mainland's huge market for visual and performing arts.
In Hong Kong, Gary Mok Waihong was just a wannabe artist. He loved art, but was never going to make it in his home city.
Today, he owns a studio in Beijing and is a full-time artist and curator of shows, including exhibitions in Hong Kong, Macao and the mainland.
He worked hard to get where he is. After many years of study, he completed preparations for art school in time to become one of the first students from Hong Kong to graduate from the bachelor's program at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, China's leading visual arts institute, in 2007.
Having arrived in Beijing in 2000, Mok revels in a cultural melting pot, where new ideas are embraced with enthusiasm and curiosity, and people with diverse talents have the opportunity to express themselves and develop.
"There are some intriguing art groups in Beijing. Even heavy metal music is more advanced here than in Hong Kong. It would be hard to find a similar group of people that come together regularly for art in the Hong Kong arts community," he said.
Much changed in the years after his arrival. Other "creatives" followed his path to find their place in Beijing's artistic community, including painters, dancers, singers, actors and screenwriters.
The process is continuing as young hopefuls arrive in search of opportunities unavailable at home.