Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia [1st ed.] 9783030462901, 9783030462918

This book responds to the lack of Asian representation in creative cities literature. It aims to use the creative cities

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Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia [1st ed.]
 9783030462901, 9783030462918

Table of contents :
Front Matter ....Pages i-xx
Introduction: Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia (Xin Gu, Michael Kho Lim, Justin O’Connor)....Pages 1-10
Front Matter ....Pages 11-11
Creative Cities, Creative Classes and the Global Modern (Justin O’Connor)....Pages 13-26
Global City as Place Branding Strategy: The Case of Bonifacio Global City (Philippines) (Michael Kho Lim)....Pages 27-39
Creative Cities, Technological Utopianism and Cultural Retrofitting (Xin Gu)....Pages 41-57
Rethinking Creative Cities?: UNESCO, Sustainability, and Making Urban Cultures (Deborah Stevenson)....Pages 59-74
Front Matter ....Pages 75-75
‘Crisis of Values’ in Rhetorical Architecture: Creative Cities Discourse and the Urban Landscapes of the Philippines (Janine Patricia Santos)....Pages 77-93
From Foreign Community to Creative Town? Creativity and Contestation in Itaewon, Seoul (Hyunjoon Shin)....Pages 95-111
Whose Cultural Memory? Disruptive Tactics by the Creative Collectives in George Town, Malaysia (Zaki Habibi)....Pages 113-128
A Humble Creative City: Tainan City as a Case Study of Culture-led and Community-supported Transformation of a Historical City (Jiun-Yi Wu)....Pages 129-142
Front Matter ....Pages 143-143
From Rubble to the Korean Wave Hub: The Making of the New Digital Media City in Seoul (Jun-Min Song, Yu-Min Joo)....Pages 145-160
The Role of an Urban Festival: Case Study of the Pingyao International Film Festival (Jian Xiao, Lin Jin)....Pages 161-174
‘Behind the Scenes’ of Mumbai’s Bollywood (Anubha Sarkar)....Pages 175-185
Cool Japan, Creative Industries, and Diversity (Koichi Iwabuchi)....Pages 187-199
Front Matter ....Pages 201-201
Creative Seoul: A Lesson for Asian Creative Cities (Kim-Marie Spence)....Pages 203-219
Re-imaging the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area as a Cluster of Creative Cities (Desmond Cheuk Kuen Hui, Charmaine Cheung Man Hui, Patrick Kin Wai Mok, Jason Ka Hei Wong, Ruijie Du)....Pages 221-237
Creative City Policy in Second-Tier Cities: The case of Chiang Mai, Thailand (Phitchakan Chuangchai)....Pages 239-252
City of Music: Post-Conflict Branding of Ambon City (Nyak Ina Raseuki, Zeffry Alkatiri, Sonya Indriati Sondakh)....Pages 253-262
Front Matter ....Pages 263-263
Creative Cities and Sustainable Development: A Framework (Helene George)....Pages 265-275
Creative Bandung: Interview with Tita Larasati (Tita Larasati, Xin Gu)....Pages 277-282
UNESCO and Mongolian Cultural Policy: Interview with Bodibaatar Jigjidsuren (Bodibaatar Jigjidsuren, Xin Gu)....Pages 283-290
Creative Cities in Cambodia: An Impossible Idea? Interview with Milena Dragićević àešić (Milena Dragićević àešić, Justin O’Connor)....Pages 291-301
Back Matter ....Pages 303-305

Citation preview

Re-imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia Edited by Xin Gu · Michael Kho Lim · Justin O’Connor

Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia

Xin Gu  •  Michael Kho Lim Justin O’Connor Editors

Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia

Editors Xin Gu School of Media, Film and Journalism Monash University Caulfield East, VIC, Australia Justin O’Connor School of Creative Industries University of South Australia Adelaide, SA, Australia

Michael Kho Lim School of Journalism, Media and Culture Cardiff University Cardiff, UK

Department of Cultural Industry and Management Shanghai Jiaotong University Shanghai, China

ISBN 978-3-030-46290-1    ISBN 978-3-030-46291-8 (eBook) © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Cover illustration: Matteo Colombo / gettyimages Cover design: eStudioCalamar This Palgrave Macmillan imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG. The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland


We would like to thank Lucy Batrouney from Palgrave Macmillan for her enthusiasm for this book project. We are grateful for Bryony Burns and Mala Sanghera-Warren at Palgrave Macmillan for their support and guidance for seeing the book through to publication. We also thank colleagues at our respective institutions: School of Media, Film and Journalism at Monash University, School of Journalism, Media and Culture at Cardiff University, and the Faculty of Creative Industries at the University of South Australia for providing intellectual support. The anonymous reviewers helped ensure the quality of the publication.



1 Introduction: Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia  1 Xin Gu, Michael Kho Lim, and Justin O’Connor Part I Conceptualising Creative Cities in Asia  11 2 Creative Cities, Creative Classes and the Global Modern 13 Justin O’Connor 3 Global City as Place Branding Strategy: The Case of Bonifacio Global City (Philippines) 27 Michael Kho Lim 4 Creative Cities, Technological Utopianism and Cultural Retrofitting 41 Xin Gu 5 Rethinking Creative Cities?: UNESCO, Sustainability, and Making Urban Cultures 59 Deborah Stevenson




Part II Resisting Creative Cities  75 6 ‘Crisis of Values’ in Rhetorical Architecture: Creative Cities Discourse and the Urban Landscapes of the Philippines 77 Janine Patricia Santos 7 From Foreign Community to Creative Town? Creativity and Contestation in Itaewon, Seoul 95 Hyunjoon Shin 8 Whose Cultural Memory? Disruptive Tactics by the Creative Collectives in George Town, Malaysia113 Zaki Habibi 9 A Humble Creative City: Tainan City as a Case Study of Culture-led and Community-supported Transformation of a Historical City129 Jiun-Yi Wu Part III Creative Cities and Creative Industries 143 10 From Rubble to the Korean Wave Hub: The Making of the New Digital Media City in Seoul145 Jun-Min Song and Yu-Min Joo 11 The Role of an Urban Festival: Case Study of the Pingyao International Film Festival161 Jian Xiao and Lin Jin 12 ‘Behind the Scenes’ of Mumbai’s Bollywood175 Anubha Sarkar 13 Cool Japan, Creative Industries, and Diversity187 Koichi Iwabuchi



Part IV Governing Creative Cities 201 14 Creative Seoul: A Lesson for Asian Creative Cities203 Kim-Marie Spence 15 Re-imaging the Guangdong-Hong Kong-­Macao Greater Bay Area as a Cluster of Creative Cities221 Desmond Cheuk Kuen Hui, Charmaine Cheung Man Hui, Patrick Kin Wai Mok, Jason Ka Hei Wong, and Ruijie Du 16 Creative City Policy in Second-Tier Cities: The case of Chiang Mai, Thailand239 Phitchakan Chuangchai 17 City of Music: Post-Conflict Branding of Ambon City253 Nyak Ina Raseuki, Zeffry Alkatiri, and Sonya Indriati Sondakh Part V Critical Reflections on Creative Cities Policy Making in Asia 263 18 Creative Cities and Sustainable Development: A Framework265 Helene George 19 Creative Bandung: Interview with Tita Larasati277 Tita Larasati and Xin Gu 20 UNESCO and Mongolian Cultural Policy: Interview with Bodibaatar Jigjidsuren283 Bodibaatar Jigjidsuren and Xin Gu



21 Creative Cities in Cambodia: An Impossible Idea? Interview with Milena Dragićević Šešić291 Milena Dragićević Šešić and Justin O’Connor Index303

Notes on Contributors

Zeffry Alkatiri  is Lecturer at History Department, Faculty of Humanities, Universitas Indonesia. He received his PhD in 2006 from the Faculty of Humanities, Universitas Indonesia. He focuses on the issues of social and cultural history. He has written about social issues and cultural diversity in various national and international journals. Besides his academic works, he has also written a number of poetry collection that have won awards. Phitchakan  Chuangchai is Lecturer at the College of Innovation, Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand. Her research interests focus on the implementation and impact of the Creative City discourse in second-tier cities in Southeast Asia especially those in the Southeast Asian Creative Cities Network, including Bandung (Indonesia), Cebu (Philippines), Chiang Mai (Thailand), and George Town (Malaysia). Ruijie  Du  is a research Assistant Professor at the Harbin Institute of Technology, Shenzhen (HIT Shenzhen). She obtained her Ph.D. in architecture from the Chinese University of Hong Kong with a specialisation in architectural heritage conservation. Before joining HIT Shenzhen, she worked as senior research assistant at the Hang Seng University of Hong Kong. Her research interest ranges from architectural and urban heritage conservation, urban revitalisation, to cultural and creative industries.



Notes on Contributors

Helene George  is Founder and Managing Director of Creative Economy, a company at the forefront of economic development based on culture. Helene is a sought-after adviser and development consultant by the government and the private sector. Xin Gu  is part of the UNESCO ‘Expert Facility’, supporting the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Cultural Diversity (2019-2022). She co-developed and was the director of the Master of Cultural and Creative Industries (MCCI) at Monash University in Australia. She has published widely on urban creative clusters and agglomerations, cultural work, creative entrepreneurship, cultural and creative industries policy, media cities, maker culture and cyberculture in China. Xin has worked with policy initiatives in the UK, China and Indonesia to support small-scale local creative industries development services. Her work focuses on the transformation of creative cities and the creative economy under different social, economic and political conditions. Xin’s current research concerns the digital creative economy, looking at the democratisation of creativity through vast transformative digital media ecosystems. Zaki Habibi  is a media studies scholar with an interest in the interrelation between everyday life and media practice in cities. His research covers media practice, media and memory studies, documentary photography and film, and creativity in everyday life. Since 2016, he has worked as a Doktorand (PhD Fellow) at the Department of Communication and Media, Lund University, Sweden. He is also a lecturer in media and cultural studies at the Department of Communications, Islamic University of Indonesia (UII). His current research explores the poetics and politics of mediated urban creativities and creative voices in Malaysian and Indonesian cities. Charmaine  Cheung  Man  Hui is Assistant Professor of the BA in Cultural and Creative Industries in Department of Social Science at The Hang Seng University of Hong Kong. With an academic background in comparative literature, architecture and cultural policy, she is interested in the critical intersection between arts, culture and its wider society. Prior to joining the HSU, she was consultant and manager of consultancy studies in the field of heritage and creative industries.

  Notes on Contributors 


Desmond  Cheuk  Kuen  Hui  is Professor and Head of Department of Art and Design, Director of the BA in Cultural and Creative Industries and BA in Art and Design at the Hang Seng University of Hong Kong. He holds a BArch degree from Cornell University, and MPhil and PhD from Cambridge University. He has held tenured positions at the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong from 1990 to 2013.  He is a registered architect in both Canada and Hong Kong and has led many public research and consultancies in the mapping of creative industries, creativity index, creative clusters, cultural and industrial heritage, urban renewal and regeneration, public art and new technology.  He was curator for the HK Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in both 2008 and 2012, served on various HK government committees, and part of the ‘Expert Facility’ of the UNESCO 2005 Convention on Cultural Diversity. He is now member of the Country and Marine Parks Board, Advisory Committee of Built Heritage Conservation and Museum Expert Advisor for the Hong Kong SAR Government. Koichi Iwabuchi  is Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan. His main research interests are cultural globalisation and transnationalism, and diversity, multicultural questions, cultural diversity and cultural citizenship in the Japanese and East Asian contexts. His recent English publications include: Resilient Borders and Cultural Diversity: Internationalism, Brand Nationalism and Multiculturalism in Japan (Lexington Books, 2015); “Globalization, Digitalization, and Renationalization: Some Reflections from Japanese Cases”, Situations: Cultural Studies in the Asian Context, 12 (1), pp.  1-22; and “Trans-Asia as method: a collaborative and dialogic project in a globalized world,” in Trans-Asia as Method: Theory and Practices, edited by J. de Kloet, Y.  F. Chow and G.  P. L.  Chong (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2019). Bodibaatar  Jigjidsuren  is an art historian who currently works as an international expert on UNESCO’s Convention and a PhD candidate at the School of Creative Industries, University of South Australia. He produced TV programs on contemporary world cinema for Mongolian National Television, developed and implemented policies for the Ministry of Culture, lectured at the National University of Mongolia, and advised on cultural and public policies for the Mongolian government.


Notes on Contributors

Lin  Jin is an independent scholar, Nanchang University, Nanchang, China, researching on the development of creative culture in fringe cities locally and internationally. Yu-Min  Joo  is Associate Professor at the KDI School of Public Policy and Management in Korea. She also taught at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore as Assistant Professor from 2012 to 2019. She is the author of a number of journal articles and books on urban development and policy, including her latest book Megacity Seoul: Urbanization and the Development of Modern South (Routledge, 2019) and an edited volume Smart Cities in Asia: Governing Development in the Era of Hyper-­Connectivity (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2020). She holds a Masters degree in Urban Planning from Harvard University and a PhD in Urban and Regional Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Tita Larasati  is working for Bandung, a UNESCO City of Design. She is the chair of Bandung Creative City Forum (BCCF), an organisation responsible for the application to UNESCO.  She also teaches industrial design at the Faculty of Arts and Design at Bandung Institute of Technology Michael Kho Lim’s  career trajectory lies at the intersection of industry and academia. He has extensive experience in the management of cultural and creative industries, assuming various roles, such as being a film producer, executive director, general manager, and holding creative and managerial positions in content writing and editing for different publications. He has produced several short and full-length feature films, documentaries, and music videos. He also has several years of university teaching experience in the Philippines and Australia, handling modules on screen production, creative entrepreneurship, cultural economy and sustainable development, among others. Michael’s research interests include Asian cinema, independent filmmaking, film distribution, cultural economy and the broader area of cultural and creative industries. He is the author of Philippine Cinema and the Cultural Economy of Distribution (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019) and co-­ author of The Media Kit: A Frame-by-Frame Guide to Visual Production (Anvil Publishing, 2008). He is also co-editing a forthcoming anthology: Sine ni Lav Diaz: A Long Take on the Filipino Auteur (with Parichay Patra; Intellect Ltd. and DLSU Publishing House, 2020). He is presently a Lecturer in media and cultural policy at Cardiff University.

  Notes on Contributors 


Patrick Kin Wai Mok  is Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the Hang Seng University of Hong Kong. His research interests cover history, cultural studies, and cultural and creative industries. Before joining the HSU, he was consultant and project manager responsible for developing the Hong Kong Memory Project. Justin  O’Connor is Professor in the School of Creative Industries, University of South Australia. He is also visiting Professor in the School of Cultural Industry and Management, Shanghai Jiaotong University. From 2012-2018 he was Professor of Communications and Cultural Economy at Monash University. Between 2012-18 he was part of the UNESCO ‘Expert Facility’, supporting the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Cultural Diversity. He has advised cities in Europe, Russia, Korea and China. Under the UNESCO/EU Technical Assistance Programme, he has worked with the Ministries of Culture in both Mauritius and Samoa to develop cultural industry strategies. Justin is the author of the 2016 Platform Paper After the Creative Industries, and a forthcoming book (with Xin Gu) Red Creative: Culture and Modernity in China. He is co-editor of the 2015 Routledge Companion to the Cultural Industries, and with Rong Yueming (2018) Cultural Industries in Shanghai: Policy and Planning inside a Global City.​ Nyak Ina Raseuki  is Lecturer and Director of Graduate School of Urban Arts and Cultural Industry at the Jakarta Institute of the Arts, Indonesia. She is author of Being Islamic in Music: Two Contemporary Genres from Sumatra (2017). Besides her academic commitments, she also maintains and nurtures collaborative relationships with contemporary composers, as well as popular and traditional musicians across the Indonesian archipelago, in a multitude of performances and recordings. Among her published recordings are an alternative popular music Archipelagongs (Warner Music Indonesia, 1999), Music for Solo Performer: Ubiet Sings Tony Prabowo (Musikita, Jakarta, 2006), a new interpretation of kroncong music, Ubiet & Kroncong Tenggara (demajors, Jakarta, 2007/2013), and two of her latest projects, interpreting Eastern Indonesia songs and an interpretation of S. Abdullah songs, a kroncong singer of hadhrami descent in Indonesia known in the 1930s.


Notes on Contributors

Janine Patricia Santos  is a PhD candidate in Anthropology (KU Leuven, Belgium). Her foundations in Cultural Economy (Monash University, Australia) helped her establish research interests in creativity and ­urbanism, the political economy of cultural production, culture and development, and ideology and activism. She is currently involved in the research project CityLabs—Inventing the Future with the Institute of Anthropological Research in Africa, which looks at how ‘making’ and creativity contribute to the development of urban ecologies in African cities. For the project, she is currently looking at the discourse and practices of ‘technological democracy’ in Lomé, Togo, as seen through various ways of creatively ‘hacking’ the digital economy and its infrastructure. Anubha Sarkar  has a BA in Journalism and an MA in Mass Communication and Cultural Economics. She is a PhD candidate at Monash University, working on the intersections between the Indian film industry, cultural policy, creative economy and soft power. Milena  Dragićević  Šešić is Milena Dragićević Šešić is Head of the UNESCO Chair on Interculturalism, Art Management and Mediation and former President of the University of Arts, Belgrade. She is also a professor of cultural policy, cultural management, cultural studies, and media studies. She is an expert in participatory approaches for the design and development of local, regional and national cultural policies. Milena has developed more than 50 projects in cultural policy and management. Hyunjoon  Shin is Professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences at Sunkonghoe University. Having received his PhD on the transformation of the Korean music industry, he has carried out broader research on popular culture, international migration, and urban space in Korea and East Asia. He was a Visiting Scholar at the National University of Singapore, Leiden University in the Netherlands, Leuven University in Belgium, and Duke University in Durham, USA.  He is currently a member of International Advisory Editors of Popular Music and a member of the Editorial Collective of Inter-Asia Cultural Studies. His papers appear in Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique, Popular Music, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, City, Culture and Society to name a few. He has also been involved in the indie music scene in Hongdae, Seoul since its inception in the mid-1990s. Sonya  Indriati  Sondakh is a PhD Candidate at the Department of Literature, Universitas Indonesia. She is now researching on an oral tradition in North Sulawesi called “Foso Rumages Tradition” (a thanksgiving

  Notes on Contributors 


tradition) for her dissertation. She is now Vice Director at Graduate School of Urban Arts and Cultural Industries at the Jakarta Institute of the Arts. She is also a writer and translator for a number of books. Jun-Min  Song  is Head at the JACOPS Planning & Design Corp. in Korea. She holds a PhD in Cultural Policy Studies from the University of Warwick. From 2017 to 2019, she was a Lecturer at Konkuk University, Sogang University, and University of Seoul. She teaches and publishes on urban development and culture, particularly on the topics of urban governance, urban development, urban design, urban cultural policy, placemaking, and cultural and creative industries. She is a cultural planner and a founder and director of arts conference CAVARET in Korea. Her latest book chapter is titled “Making a Sustainable Creative Milieu in a Newly Built District: Seoul Digital Media City” published by Nanam in 2018. Kim-Marie Spence  is a postdoctoral researcher at Southampton Solent University (UK) specializing in cultural industries and cultural policy. She is also an adjunct lecturer in media and communication at University of the West Indies (Jamaica). She has done significant primary fieldwork comparing the popular culture industries of reggae, Bollywood, K-pop and K-drama, as part of her doctoral research at the Australian National University. She is a former Rhodes Scholar and Head of Creative Industries in Jamaica. She has also worked with UNESCO on the Representative List of Oral and Intangible Heritage. She is co-author of Global Cultural Economy with Routledge Publishers with articles published in Journal of Arts Management, Law & Society, and Journal of Popular Music & Society. She is also a contributor to the Policy Forum, the online forum of the Asia & Pacific Public Policy Society. Deborah  Stevenson is Research Professor of Sociology and Urban Cultural Research in the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University. Her research interests are in arts and cultural policy, cities and urban life, and the role of gender in shaping creative practice and cultural consumption. Her publications include the books Cities and Urban Cultures (OpUP, 2003), Cities of Culture: A Global Perspective (Routledge, 2017), and The City (Polity, 2013). Her latest monograph Cultural Policy Beyond the Economy: Work, Value and the Social (Edward Elgar) is due for publication in 2020, while the co-edited Routledge Companion to Urban Media and Communication was published in 2019.


Notes on Contributors

Jason Ka Hei Wong  is a graduate of History from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He also has an EASTICA Postgraduate Certificate in Archival Studies. He was also part of the Department of Social Science at the Hang Seng University of Hong Kong, and participated in the research related to cultural and creative industries in the Greater Bay Area. Jiun-Yi Wu  is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Culture and Creative Industries at the City, University of London. He was a visiting lecturer at City, University of London in 2018 and 2019, and worked with Network, Queen Mary University of London’s Centre for the Creative and Cultural Economy, as a knowledge exchange coordinator in 2019. He used to work at the Ministry of Culture of Taiwan, which is in charge of the development of cultural and creative industries. His research draws on cultural and social context of clustering in the cultural and creative industries, as well as their relation to urban and regional development. Jian  Xiao works at the School of Media and International Culture, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China. She has published in European Journal of Cultural Studies, Chinese Journal of Communication, Journal of Popular Music Studies, Space and Culture (forthcoming). She has also published a monograph titled Punk Culture in Contemporary China with Palgrave Macmillan. Her research interests focus on new media and cultural studies.

List of Figures

Fig. 7.1 Fig. 7.2 Fig. 8.1 Fig. 8.2 Fig. 8.3 Fig. 8.4 Fig. 8.5 Fig. 8.6 Fig. 9.1 Fig. 9.2 Fig. 10.1 Fig. 12.1

A Gallery turned into a sit-in site, September 5 and December 9, 2015. ‘Stop Psy” and “Stop Gentrification” in English Roman scripts are clear. Photograph by Hyunjoon Shin A day in the life at an alley of Itaewon in 2016. Photograph by Hyunjoon Shin The building compound of Hin Bus Depot (inside yellow line) as seen in this aerial view during day and night, it is a home for several creative collectives in George Town since 2014 Culture on display in the city: the state-commissioned public sign in Penang International Airport and the diorama in a private-owned museum The façade in the back side of Hin Bus Depot compound Tourism boost: the state-commissioned street arts projects and commercial initiatives by hotels and other service industries in George Town The creative collectives make their own murals in a few hidden corners of the city Hin’s family: the place, the people and the activities inside A blueprint artwork on Hai’an Road Artworks alongside Hai’an Road DMC © Junmin Song, 2014 Keelery, Published by Sandhya, and Jul 7. “India - Box Office Contribution by Language 2019.” Statista, July 7, 2020. Share of regional box office contribution across India as of May 2018, by language

96 107 117 118 121 121 122 125 133 135 152



List of Figures

Fig. 12.2

Fig. 12.3

Fig. 14.1 Fig. 14.2 Fig. 14.3

Rights Holder Name: Statista Acknowledgement/Citation details: Published by Sanika Diwanji, Sep 23, 2019 https:// Types of licensing: Creative Commons 8d0f009000013 publishing-statista-content-infographics---creative-commons176 Watson, Amy. “Leading Film Markets Worldwide by Number of Films Produced 2018,” July 11, 2019. https://www. Leading film markets worldwide from 2007-2018, by number of films produced Rights Holder Name: Statista Acknowledgement/ Citation details: Published by Amy Watson, Jul 11, 2019 Types of licensing: Creative Commons /#faq52a743ca29f8d0f009000013 https://www.statista. com/getting-started/publishing-statista-content-infographics--creative-commons177 Sarkar, Anubha. “Bollywood’s Global Affair: The Cultural Industry and Soft Power.” Dissertation, 2020. Governance of film policy in India. Tables and division of ministries/ organisations formulated based on my PhD research 181 VIXX Gangnamdol, K-Star Road, 2016 210 2012 Gangnam Style Monument, Gangnam Station 2016 211 Old JYP Building, Cheongdam. Taken from the Dunkin Donuts. 2016 212


Introduction: Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia Xin Gu, Michael Kho Lim, and Justin O’Connor

The idea of the Creative City is a product of the 1990s. Of course, the idea has long roots in a Euro-American narrative of the city as a primary site for commercial and industrial development or ‘modernisation’, and as a locus for a certain quality of experience we call ‘modern’. The Creative City involved a reframing of this narrative at a moment when the

X. Gu (*) School of Media, Film and Journalism, Monash University, Caulfield East, VIC, Australia e-mail: [email protected] M. K. Lim School of Journalism, Media and Culture, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK e-mail: [email protected] J. O’Connor School of Creative Industries, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia Department of Cultural Industry and Management, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, China e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 X. Gu et al. (eds.), Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia,




Fordist-­Keynesian settlement had broken down. That is, where ‘Fordist’ industrial production moved overseas and cities were expected to operate more independently—and entrepreneurially—inside and outside the Keynesian planning frame of the nation-state. The Creative City drew specifically on the cultural, even aesthetic, dimensions of the city, deemed to have been side-lined by the functionality of the Fordist city, as exemplified by the top-down architectural and planning regimes of Le Corbusier and Robert Moses. These ‘soft’ cultural capacities—unruly, messy, intuitive, iterative, emotional—were now to be the drivers of a new kind of post-industrial city. On the one hand, this agenda responded to the multiplying demands to take back control of the city, symbolically represented by the events of 1968 and articulated conceptually by Jane Jacobs (1985) and—more robustly—by Henri Lefebvre (1992). Cities were for people, not the other way around. On the other hand, this cultural dimension not only made cities liveable but was now set to become a benign economic driver for a post-industrial future. In this sense, the Creative City and what came to be known in 1998 as the ‘creative industries’ emerged at the same time, though they have not always remained so close. The re-invention of the city mobilised a broad coalition of actors and aspirations under the shared ‘imaginary’ of the Creative City (Jessop and Oosterlynck 2008). As such it could take multiple directions. For some it meant investing in the arts and cultural infrastructure, hoping to attract global companies and their equally footloose senior staff. Or an iconic building could be catalytic for the local population, declaring a new future for the city, and maybe bringing in cultural tourists for good measure. These could be part of a city’s ambitious bid for international cultural (or sporting) events, and the ever-growing conference trade—attempts at ‘re-­ branding’ which extended to the various ‘city of culture’ programs that were emerging and, after 2004, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN). Some of these cities sought a deeper and longer-term renegotiation of their identities and aspirations. Very few actioned that full transformation of urban governance envisaged by Franco Bianchini and Charles Landry in their 1995 book, in which the language ‘of instrumental, rational and analytic thinking’ would to be supplemented by one that could describe the ‘messy’ aspects of urban life, those ‘which are subjective and not quantifiable: memory, emotions, passions, senses, desires, all of which engender motivations and loyalties’ (Landry and Bianchini 1995: 15). In the early noughties, the Creative City would be increasingly re-­ oriented around Richard Florida’s (2002, 2005) concept of the ‘creative class’. This was a continuation of the strategy of ‘attracting footloose



talent’ but with economic metrics and analytics, benchmarks and indexes to back it up. Florida’s account focused on cultural infrastructure but more in terms of up-market, trendy leisure amenities and the kinds of ‘lifestyle districts’ that had proliferated in cities across the globe—celebrated in newspaper travel sections and in-flight magazines. Florida embraced the vibrancy of urban living—gays, bohemians, multi-ethnicity—but the urban community it explicitly targeted was a professional-managerial class, expanded to include artists, but in which ‘blue-collar’ workers (threats to tolerance and creativity) were not so welcome. Finally, though Florida eulogized the ‘soft infrastructure’ of creative urban landscapes, the creative class would require housing, leisure and entertainment amenities, up-market hospitality and retail, perhaps a gallery or two—and this required capital investment and development green-lights. These were enthusiastically forthcoming, as witnessed by the tsunami of global capital-­led urban transformation over the last two decades, whose sheer scale and reach has now outgrown the quaint term ‘gentrification’. In short, Florida’s ‘creative class’—socially exclusive, consumption-oriented, capital-­ intensive, topdown, and justified entirely by hard economic metrics—helped deliver almost the exact opposite of that promised in the Creative City imaginary. Developing new forms of cultural production able to take the place of the old industries was a more difficult challenge; despite it being presented as part of the Creative City package it tended to develop in a different space. Of course, investing in a city’s cultural infrastructure, alongside the lifestyle zones of the creative class, was essential for any creative industries strategy; in practice such a strategy required more detailed research and long-term investment than many cities were capable of providing. Cities were privileged sites for the creative industries, as these worked within agglomeration economies and complex ecosystems, where cultural consumption and production would ideally form a virtuous circle. In practice, however, the returns on consumption were quicker and bigger than those gained from investing in a set of creative micro-businesses. Up-market apartments and hospitality ventures drove out creative workspace and affordable housing. In any event, in the age of neoliberal austerity, few cities had the capacity for any forward-thinking long-term industrial strategy. A de facto creative industry recipe emerged, which combined elements of Landry’s creative city and Florida’s creative class with the ‘start-up’ entrepreneurial ethos that now animated much of creative industries thinking. This is what we call the ‘creativity bundle’. The ‘creativity bundle’ has three aspects. First, the ‘creative entrepreneur’, based on long-standing images of the free creative artist, able to act



and innovate ‘outside-the-box’. Second, the ‘creative milieu’, semi-­ autonomous networks of these creative entrepreneurs embedded in local urban places, and through which new ideas emerge, circulate, mutate and accelerate. Third, ‘networks of micro-enterprises’, operating in a zone between the firm and the market, between competition and collaboration, between the worlds of work and the social, operating as a kind of ‘ecosystem’ not amenable to top-down state planning or corporate control. In short, creative industries demanded new kinds of cities, which facilitated new kinds of creative milieus, new kinds of enterprises, and new kinds of subjects able to autonomously create and innovate. Importantly, though this could be seen as a city-wide agenda, it could be scaled down to manageable proportions through the idea of the ‘creative cluster’ or ‘hub’— these two forms combining production, consumption, urban image-making and high-profile capital projects for public sector and private developers alike. It was in this form, we suggest, that the idea of the creative industries or creative economy moved from the cities of the Global North to those of the Global South. The Creative City has been seen as ‘fast-policy’ (Peck 2005) an easily transferable piece of ‘policy-technology’ (Kong 2014). Across the Global South, it could make multiple appeals to particular interests and collective aspirations in ways that could assemble powerful local coalitions. The Creative City covered projects around heritage, building new art galleries and concert halls, promoting festivals and cultural tourism, developing housing and up-market retail and leisure facilities, creating start-up and coworking spaces and so on. These coalitions were animated by a powerful imaginary, articulated especially by international agencies such as the British Council and (latterly) the Goethe Institut, as well as supranational agencies such as UNCTAD and, above all, UNESCO. This imaginary was of a new kind of development, a new connection to the global, and a new path to a viable future. To ratify the UNESCO 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, or to join its Creative City Network, was to be part of a new global club of moderns, this time articulated around culture and human creativity, both of which the Global South possessed in abundance—and Asian Cities were second to none. The Creative City might be embraced as an Asian possibility, but it was marked with the provenance of the Global North. As with other developmental agendas issuing from the Global North, the transfer of both the imaginary and the policy technology of Creative City was fraught with multiple issues of replication, transposition and translation. There were familiar problems of ‘catching-up’ with a Western model, one to which the



more one sought to approach, the more it receded into the distance. So too the well-worn problems of identity—of what ‘creative’ could mean in the context of an ‘Asia’ that represented a long-standing binary with ‘the West’ but was also multiple, distributed and diverse. And for many cities the familiar problem of resources—infrastructure, capital, knowledge, technology. Were Asian cities to be pulled finally into orbit of Western modernity, their cities replicated non-places of global consumption? Or would we see another set of half-finished projects, the semi-ruins of another failed modernity? Maybe some cities could take it and make it their own, transform it in their image; or perfect it, run it higher and faster than any western city had previously imaged? Was the Creative City, then, about ‘elite dreaming’ (Ong 2011: 17), local development coalitions seeking to tap into the global modern, or did it speak to local communities about a new kind of involvement and validation, a new empowerment? Was ‘creative’ a further iteration of Euro-­ American modernism or could it encompass the very different aesthetics and cultures of Asia, embedded in cities with a very distinct historical trajectory from that of the Western mythos? How were these fault-lines— some old, some new—to be negotiated at a time when the Global North itself is in some sort of disarray? The chapters in this book cannot address all these questions, but will mostly touch them obliquely through case studies. At the same time, their Asian location necessarily introduces a new dimension to the Creative City by locating them within the debates of globalization and cosmopolitanism—both of these mediated by those ‘ubiquitous technologies’ increasingly seen as a necessity in developing creative cities. However, the tendency of the Creative City discourse to be dominated by economic rationality and technology-led development cannot simply be equated to the ‘neo-liberal’ approaches common in Western discourse. This book suggests a ‘civic’ dimension be added. Many Asian cities are certainly undergoing top-down planned culture-led urban regeneration, but this is also developed in many cases via public and private partnerships, setting new examples for developments in other cultural and creative sectors previously closed off from public participation. The creative city is an invitation for citizens to renew their cosmopolitan imaginary, facilitated by the emergence of embedded ubiquitous technologies: this need not always break in favour of global corporations and authoritarian government, new possibilies, new sites of contestation and imagination may also emerge. As opposed to debates in the West on ‘third spaces’ or the ‘public sphere’, the Asian creative city can be viewed as a new development phase,



a turning point, even an awakening from an industrial and developmental marginalisation of the cultural public sphere. These new imaginaries, trajectories and narratives contribute to new dialogues and collaborations between the State, the Public and a range of private actors rather than a zero-sum opposition of state and market. In order to explore these issues, this book looks at creative city politics in a global urban context, and at the different trajectories across Asia, from the multiple terminologies deployed by creative cities to the different agencies and processes involved in their implementation. This book also frames these issues in terms of a distinctive urban public space. The adoption and adaptation of different ‘cosmopolitan imaginaries’ helps structure creative spaces as (often contested) sites where the local (or regional) meets the global. This book aims to use the ‘creative cities’ paradigm as part of a wider process involving first, a rapid de-industrialisation in the region that has left a void for new development models, resulting in a popular uptake of cultural economies in Asian cities; and second, the congruence and conflicts of traditional and modern cultural values leading to a necessary re-­ interpretation and re-imagination of cities as places for cultural production and cultural consumption. This book responds to the absence or lack of Asian representation in the creative cities literature. However, the book does not attempt to cover all Asian cities but endeavours to represent some of the Asian regions through various case studies. It seeks to recognise and highlight the rapid rise of these cities and how they have stepped up to the challenge of transforming and regenerating themselves, especially in the ‘Asian century’. It also aims to re-define what it means to be an Asian creative city and generate more dialogue and new debate around different urban issues. This book is divided it into five parts starting with a set of historical and conceptual overviews, moving through a series of critical case studies, and ending with reflections from practitioners in the field. In Part I, Conceptualising Creative Cities in Asia, we contextualise and prepare the subsequent empirical chapters by situating Asian creative cities as sites for political, cultural and social conflicts in the new Asia century. There are four chapters presenting overviews of the Creative City. Justin O’Connor, starting out from the policy transfer literature looks at the idea of a global ‘creative class’ as articulated around a Creative City imaginary. It locates this imaginary in a particular moment of time, as part of a re-­ articulation of US hegemony after the Asian Financial Crisis, as well as an interpellation of new global youthful subjects seeking a different modernity. The chapter tries to suggest why this creative city moment might be



breaking down. Michael Kho Lim looks at the relationship between the Creative City and branding strategy, using an ‘imaginary’ global city in the Philippines as a case study. He argues that the effective application of city branding to Bonifacio Global City has transformed this space—an imagined global city into something real. It has created an image and public perception that it is indeed a city by projecting and acting as one when in fact, this multi-hectare property does not hold a city status and is but a financial and lifestyle district that forms a small part of a ‘real’ city. Xin Gu looks at the shift from ‘creative cities’ to ‘media cities’, driven by city governments and developers seeking high returns on investment. The shift not only narrows the scope of the creative imaginary but results in highly unequal, socially and economically unsustainable development. Gu observes a tendency towards ‘technological utopianism’ or technology solutionism in urban cultural policy. Exploring the evolution of new buzzwords of media cities, smart cities and intelligent cities through the creative cities’ lens, this chapter is concerned with the acceleration of neo-liberal governmentality in Asia. Finally, Deborah Stevenson’s chapter considers the recent statements and initiatives of the UCCN and asks us to rethink the creative city models in Asia. She suggests that the decision to affiliate the UCCN directly with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is posing a number of challenges for the Network and its member cities, including those of Asia, not least of which is determining what sustainability might mean for a scheme that implicitly encourages inter-city competition and was formed primarily to support and showcase creativity and the creative economy. In Part II, Resisting Creative Cities, we look at one of the key fault-lines of the Creative City, where the aspiration of the local development coalition encounters the aspirations and anxieties of local communities. Janine Santos questions the legitimacy of Creative City discourse as a ‘rhetorical architecture’, as members of the Philippines’ formal and informal cultural sectors negotiate the discourse given the urban landscapes’ material and socio-economic conditions. Using the case of Baguio City, Santos explores how urban poverty and the ‘crisis of values’ have to be considered in the country’s creative cities re-imagination. Hyunjoon Shin’s chapter enriches this discussion by challenging another key concept within the creative cities discourse, that of ‘creative class’. This chapter asks us to pay attention to the different economic and social status of the creative class rather than falling into a romanticisation trap of creative place making. Several papers speak to this point. Zaki Habibi’s chapter offers an interesting case study of a community-run creative collectives in George Town, Malaysia. The



disruptive tactics employed by the local creative community challenge not only the globalizing creative cities discourse as applied to different urban contexts in Asia, but also the defining parameters of this borrowed policy narrative. Jiun-Yi Wu’s case study of Tainan City in Taiwan presents a symbiotic relationship between creatives and built environment. In Part III, Creative Cities and Creative Industries, the focus is on the intersection of creative cities and creative industries. Junmin Song and Yu-Min Joo study the case of Seoul’s Digital Media City (DMC). The predominant focus on global firms and their needs has led to an exclusion of other smaller firms that are critical for the success of Korean Wave in the country. Without the understanding of a creative cluster as both a physical cluster and a soft ecosystem for local creative industries, DMC is unlikely to be sustainable. Two chapters then look at how film has been a particularly relevant industry for creative cities’ re-imagining. Jian Xiao and Lin Jin’s chapter asks why emerging urban festival practices and their role in changing the perception of small cities is underexplored. Taking Pingyao film festival in China as an example, their chapter explores the tension between the economic and cultural values of film festivals in the development of a ‘creative city’. The authenticity of creative cities, beyond cultural consumption, contributes to a core concern within the Asian creative cities of rapid suburban gentrification. Anubha Sarkar’s chapter discusses the characteristics of the Bollywood film industry in Mumbai, India. This case deters all existing understanding of strategies in nurturing creative industries in cities by provoking ‘what can creative cities policy do for an already successful local film industry?’ Koichi Iwabuchi investigates the operation and objectives of Japan’s ‘creative industry’ policy through the narrative of ‘Cool Japan’, a national branding policy model that sells Japanese culture abroad. He suggests a cultural diversity approach extending the discussion on ‘creativity’ to include a way of facilitating and improving civic dialogue, sympathy, and inclusion. In Part IV Governing Creative Cities, we look into international policy transfer and some of the new ways of governing creative cities in the region. Kim Spence sees in Seoul an emergent new paradigm of the creative city. Her study questions the impact of a creative city policy on a city with a highly recognisable popular cultural industry, that of K-pop. Her research asks for more nuanced analysis of the creative city realities. It is taken for granted that creative city celebrates local talents and industries. But more than often, different objectives between policies and industries result in limited success. Desmond Hui and his colleagues suggest a rather



different reality in creative city governmance. They take on an urban mega-project in the shape of a ‘creative region’—the re-imagining of one of the largest regional creative cities cluster, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-­ Macau Bay Area. Their research suggests a new role for governments to coordinate regional cultural infrastructure projects to achieve competitive advantages for local creative cities. Phitchakan Chuangchai’s chapter on Chiang Mai in Thailand points out other issues in the governance of creative cities in second-tier cities in the developing country context. Despite the efforts of local agencies, the lack of a shared understanding across society of what the cultural and creative industries are and what values they bring to local people can only lead to chaos, a waste of resources and social exclusivity. This is echoed by Nyak Ina Raseuki, Zeffry Alkatiri and Sonya Sondakh’s paper on the city of Ambon in Indonesia. Caught up in a mix of social, cultural and political conflicts, the place marketing of Ambon as UNESCO’s city of music has faced multifaceted challenges including lack of material resources, lack of support from the broad society and lack of a shared understanding of what this new policy agenda means. This empirical study suggests that there are limitations for creative cities policy to be impactful beyond economic proxies in a developing country context at least, despite existing theories claiming otherwise. In Part V, Critical Reflections on Cultural Policy Making in Asia, we interview practitioners about their direct experience in the field. Helene George presents a needs-based model for developing countries in Asia to align UNESCO’s sustainable cultural development agenda with local economic development to maximise the impact of such policy in their respective cities. Tita Larasati shares her experience as chair for Bandung Creative Cities Forum, looking at developing a civic engagement model as part of creative cities policy. Milena Dragićević Šešić, member of the Expert Facility for UNESCO’s 2005 Convention and who has undertaken the UNESCO mission in Cambodia, reports the many challenges in developing a national cultural policy in a post-genocide society. On what basis are we able to speak about culture is the question that this interview keeps coming back to. Bodibaatar Jigjidsuren’s reflection further ponders on this question based on his experience of developing Mongolian cultural policy based on the UNESCO framework. He observes how post-socialist society is looking for new ways of re-building cultural infrastructures, services and industries.



References Florida, Richard. 2002. The Rise of the Creative Class. New York: Basic Books. ———. 2005. Cities and the Creative Class. New York: Routledge. Jacob, Jane. 1985. Cities and the Wealth of Nations. New York: Vintage. Jessop, Bob, and Stijin Oosterlynck. 2008. Cultural Political Economy: On Making the Cultural Turn without Falling into Soft Economic Sociology. Geoforum 39 (3): 1155–1169. Kong, Lily. 2014. Transnational Mobilities and the Making of Creative Cities. Theory, Culture and Society 31 (7/8): 273–289. Landry, Charles, and Franco Bianchini. 1995. The Creative City. London: Demos. Lefebvre, Henri. 1992. The Production of Space. Trans. D.  Nicholson-Smith. Oxford: Blackwell. Ong, Aihwa. 2011. Introduction. In Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments and the Art of Being Global, ed. Roy Ananya and Aihwa Ong, 1–26. London: Blackwell. Peck, Jamie. 2005. Struggling with the Creative Class. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 29 (4): 740–770.


Conceptualising Creative Cities in Asia


Creative Cities, Creative Classes and the Global Modern Justin O’Connor

Though the Creative City has long roots in both the history of the European city, and in the post-Sixties transformations of culture, economy and society, its widespread formulation in the 1990s, and rapid proliferation owutside of its Euro-American heartlands after 2000, suggest a deep entanglement with the process of US-led globalization that took off after 1989–91. Already in 1990 Arjun Appadurai had sketched a new global ‘ideoscape’—post-imperial, post-colonial—across which non-isomorphic flows of ideas, images and texts gave rise to a diverse and hybrid range of local configurations, not reducible to the straight centre-periphery model of Western-centric developmentalism (Appadurai 1990). The dissolution of the Cold War binary seemed to open up a more multiple global space, one in which the US would have to work hard, using new ‘soft power’ tools, if it were to remain hegemonic in this more complex landscape (Nye J. O’Connor (*) School of Creative Industries, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia Department of Cultural Industry and Management, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, China e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 X. Gu et al. (eds.), Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia,




1990). This was the era of what Bruno Latour calls ‘globalisation-­ plus’, where, ‘shifting from a local to a global viewpoint ought to mean multiplying viewpoints, registering a great number of varieties, taking into account a larger number of beings, cultures, phenomena, organisms, and people’ (2018: 12–13. Emphasis in original).

A literature of policy transfer emerged in the noughties to reflect this. Though Jamie Peck and colleagues were sceptical-critical about creative city policies—especially when linked to the ‘creative class, noting how they spread meme-like as ‘fast policy’—their idea of policy ‘released into the wild’, undergoing random mutation from sender to receiver, described a similarly variegated ‘policyscape’ (Peck 2005; Peck and Theodore 2010, 2012). Perhaps then, whatever its original provenance, the rapid global adoption of the creative city can be seen as equally wild and non-­ isomorphic, with the adapted visions as multiply variegated as those described to the aging Kublai Khan in Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. This, to some extent, is a matter of empirical investigation; the accounts in this book certainly suggest many such divergent aspirations. Let me then state bluntly, at risk of violence to the nuances of these accounts, that in the case of creative city policy, as with the creative industries or economy with which it is intrinsically linked, the Western provenance is entirely the point. The creative cities, creative economy discourse is one of modernisation, the force of its ‘imaginary’ derived from an aspiration to be Modern. Of course, there may be multiple modernities, as argued forcefully within the post-colonial literature, and many of the Asian cities in this book would frame themselves in this light. And yet, as these case studies here also show, the creative city imaginary has resulted in a growing homogenisation of city policies, and of the very idea of the modern. Political scientist Pertti Alasuutari, recently argued that there was a global ‘synchronisation’ of policy discourses, including those of ‘creative economy’ and ‘creative city’ (Alasuutari 2016). Global policies, he argues, are increasingly similar, with policy ideas—neoliberalism, creative economy for example—rapidly circulating across the globe. This synchronisation is possible because policy elites share what he calls the ‘isomorphism of the modern’. Global policy is made by a ‘tribe of moderns’, an elite ‘tribe without a chief’ whose actions cohere as they operate across the range of government, non-government and international organisations that have influence over global policy discourse. Ultimately rooted, he suggests, in the institution of the Westphalian Nation-State, the ‘tribe of



moderns’ shares the view ‘that all nations are heading toward ever-­ changing modernisation, and that “leading” countries have better knowledge of where modernisation is leading us, which is why they follow their lead or, if they think they know the way, aspire to become the leading nation in that area’ (2016: xxi). It is precisely this network of global policy elites that re-aligned around ‘creative economy’ as a coherent modernising discourse, as ‘art and culture’ was transformed from ‘being valuable in its own right’ to being ‘useful for business and economics’ (2016: 156; De Beukelaer and Vlassis 2020). The ‘tribe of moderns’ is an ‘epistemic community’, which, as Peter Haas describes it, is ‘a network of professionals with recognised expertise and competence in a particular domain and an authoritative claim to policy relevant knowledge within that domain or issue-area’ (Haas 1992: 3). This epistemic community has a shared set of principled beliefs and values, which inform the way they link specific policy actions to desired outcomes, whose success or otherwise is validated by criteria drawn from shared forms of knowledge, and resulting in a common policy enterprise to which their expertise is applied ‘presumably out of the conviction that human welfare will be enhanced as a consequence’ (1992: 3). There are problems with Alasuutari’s account, mainly around a lack of any (global) political economy or anything resembling a ‘postcolonial’ analysis of the ‘modern’. Alasuutari’s singular notion of ‘modernity’, ignores the role the West has played in enforcing (through economic and military power) a particular form of modernity over others. However, his account of a global conformity built around a modernising economic discourse has a clear resonance with the rapid spread of creative economy and creative city policy scripts, as they held out a promise of new economic benefits from culture. Indeed, this promise went beyond the direct economic benefits of ‘arts and culture’ per se; it was a modernising imaginary that also sought the wider innovation and productivity effects that would flow from newly creative subjects. Alasuutari is rather too sanguine about the ‘synchronisation’ of the ‘tribe of moderns’, across which policy ‘fads’ can spread like a virus or meme. He underplays the deep divides within and between different policy elites, along with the paradigmatic conflicts within this epistemic community, and the wider socio-political turbulence to which these global policy paradigm shifts testify. Russel Prince, in his analysis of creative



industry policy in the UK, has a much looser conception of policy expertise as an ‘assemblage’, one in which a new policy paradigm might change configurations of power and influence within it (Prince 2010). For Prince, the rise of the creative industries heralded a paradigm shift, opening up a knowledge gap, as it moved the debates beyond the established arts and cultural policy settings. This new uncertainty created a strategic opportunity for a previously peripheral group to come forward, claiming the requisite expertise, seizing the chance to advance themselves. Tracing the rise of this loose group of experts in the UK, Prince suggests that these same players have now gone on to become increasingly influential internationally, as we see ‘a global governmental assemblage emerging for the creative industries’ (2010: 882). The ‘creative industries’ then was not a fad spreading through an established policy community but the turbulent reconfiguration of an assemblage, new players and new forms of discourse jostling for position. Alasuutari’s ‘tribe of moderns’ embraced the creative economy as a global epistemic community with a strong, normative modernising vision of ‘enhancing human welfare’. Prince, adopting a Latourian actor-­network perspective, seems only concerned with describing how experts jostle for advantage, and the values animating them are not considered at all.1 The idea of a global epistemic community around ‘modernisation’ does give a degree of isomorphism to global policyscapes, but this has its limits because ‘the modern’ is inevitably a contested term—not just in terms of a postcolonial multiple modernities but in the way the West itself conceives of that modern. The turbulent policy dynamics around the emergence of the creative econonomy, the sense of a transformation shift from one paradigm to another, is not to be reduced to the manoeuvrings of ‘outs’ against ‘ins’ (though it is that, too), but testifies to a shift in the normative idea of ‘the modern’. We are not dealing here with global policy shifts conceived only as ‘technology transfer’ or ‘fads’, but with something ideational and normative. And whilst there is, I would argue, an isomorphism around creative cities and creative economy policies, this is not a singular nor straightforward process, either in terms of its formulation amongst (competing) policy elites or amongst those that try to put it into effect at the local city level. What I want to introduce into this scenario is the Gramscian notion of ‘hegemony’. This originally referred to the ways in which the ruling classes of a particular nation-state gained the consent of the governed (even if ‘objectively’ against its own interests). This involved a range of



institutions, classes and social groups who could (always provisionally) form a viable ‘historic block’ to stabilise and maintain existing power relations. Others have applied this to the international arena, in which a leading international power is able to gain—through non-directly coercive means—the assent of lesser powers to its continued leadership (Anderson 2017; Saull 2012). Soft power. Since 1945 the US has been a leading global hegemon; since 1989–91, until the recent rise of China, it has been the only one. The US set the terms of the post-1945 modern—its production systems, its organisation of labour, its validation in terms of the growth consumer spending power and so on. The crisis of the mid-­1970s— oil, Vietnam, growing overseas competition, labour unrest—challenged US hegemony; but the combination of the neo-liberal revolution and the collapse of the USSR placed it squarely back in the driving seat of the ‘tribe of moderns’. Which is to say, the radical transformation in the global ‘scapes evoked by Appadurai in 1990 perhaps represented only a moment of possibility at a time when the meaning of ‘the modern’ was being radically reframed by a US whose hegemonic block now extended further than ever. The ‘modern’ was no longer about manufacture but services, about entrepreneurship not collective effort, about meritocracy not equality, about ‘immaterial’ value (including financial return) not necessarily ‘making things’. It was now the ‘new’ service-driven middle classes, not the industrial working class, that were the key index of modernisation and development. It is the ability to draw in other nations (and their own internal hegemonic blocks) that are willing (or forced, as with the IMF restructures of the 1980s/90s) to institute economic and social structures in line with the US’s structural dominance of the global economy, which establishes hegemony. In this sense, hegemony can be seen to work not just at the international level of state-to-state relations but at a ‘transnational’ level, cutting across all frontiers at cultural or societal levels’ (Anderson 2017: 151). In his discussion of this, Anderson refers to Wang Hui, approvingly, that this transnational level is about ‘globalised market relations’, a ‘market-­ideological apparatus’ of media, advertising and shopping, where ‘their greatest power lies in their appeal to “common sense”, ordinary needs which turn people into consumers, voluntarily following market logic in their daily lives (Wang 2006: 42). I suggest that the creative city and creative economy discourses fall into this transnational hegemonic space, as a site for the re-imagining of self, of work, and of everyday life in the city. It is both a site of intense



affective investment, for a particular group of people, just as it is highly fraught and contested, for just that reason. This new hegemonic discourse was not simply promoted by a global elite policy elite, nor a bunch of policy arrivistes, but circulated and worked at multiple transnational ‘cultural and societal levels’. In this sense, rather than policy experts, we might use the (somewhat contested) term ‘cultural intermediaries’ (O’Connor 2015). Cultural intermediaries have figured intermittently in the literature on cultural and creative industries since the 1980s, as a loose social grouping who exemplified new ‘artistic’ or ‘bohemian’ ways of life. They pioneered new relationships to work, career and life-course, and opened up new spaces of the city to forms of cultural production and consumption. Our usage here foregrounds intermediaries as an informal network of actors operating along a permeable policy interface of ‘governance’ rather than in government per se. Cultural intermediaries claim to give voice to a wider set of social and cultural transformations, previously marginal, now growing in importance. The ‘creative imaginary’ as it emerged from the late 1960s on, had a wide resonance, drawing in people from outside the traditional boundaries of urban and cultural policy. They increasingly engaged with formal policy making processes, as contesting or co-opted parties, in a policy area where, as Prince noted, there were significant lacunae. This emerging field was open to newer actors, coming without established policy track records, introducing a level of unpredictability and ad hoc into the process. The claims of those affectively invested in the creative imaginary always threatened to challenge established government policy—which was part of its attraction! In this context cultural intermediaries could assert their connections to this broader social coalition, a ‘creative sector’ that stretched beyond the established arts and cultural bodies but demanding to be brought into policy consultations if any creative industries or creative cities project was to be viable. These cultural intermediaries increasingly formed a loose global epistemic community, one that was peripheral to established policy networks, yet claimed to speak to those networks in the voice of a transformative cultural imaginary that was certainly economic but was much more than this (at least to begin with). They constituted a penumbra operating alongside the formal global cultural policy players, jostling for influence and position certainly, but also connecting to a new modern ‘creative’ constituency on whose behalf they were proselytising. Peck and Theodore



describe well the resultant mobile policies, which flowed across the transnational global policyscape, breaching the borders between these policy-making sites, constructing symbiotic networks and circulatory systems across and between them, enabling cosmopolitan communities of practice and validating expert knowledge. Mobile policies, then, are not simply travelling across a landscape—they are remaking this landscape, and they are contributing to the interpenetration of distant policy-making sites (2010: 173).

This aptly describes the emergent, transnational epistemic community of cultural (and later creative) industries and creative cities experts that emerged in the 1990s, primarily in Europe, North America and Australia, and increasingly in Latin America, Africa and East Asia. Its members were consultants and consultant-practitioners, local and regional government officers, cultural space managers, academics, festival organisers, creativity gurus, travel media (city guides and in-flight magazine features) and so on, all rubbing shoulders with representatives of national governmental agencies (British Council, Goethe-Institut, Institut Français) and transnational cultural agencies (UNESCO, UNCTAD, WIPO, Ford Foundation, the European Commission, for example). This emergent community in the making was extended and consolidated across conferences, networks and projects for creative industries and cities. Its not-­ quite-­recognised field of expertise benefited enormously from the UK government’s ‘creative industries’ brand, and it was this transnational epistemic community that was partly responsible for the unexpected (by the UK government at least) success of this policy across the globe (O’Connor and Gu 2016). This emergent transnational epistemic community was linked to local sites not just through proliferating conference and policy connections but through contact with local urban cultural ‘scenes’ (Straw and Marchessault 2002; Bennett and Peterson 2004; Silver and Clark 2016). ‘Scenes’ refers to informal communities of shared interest and participation—music scenes, arts scenes, poetry scenes, fashion scenes and so on. Such scenes can be highly mobile and difficult for all but the informed outsider to penetrate; however, particular areas of the city can become sites for their more public enactment. The ‘neo-bohemia’ (Lloyd 2006) so central to the creative city imaginary, provided such sites, and more so as they became linked to cultural or creative ‘quarters’ that, initially ad hoc, had



increasingly become objects of policy. These spatially embodied urban scenes, ‘cool’ zones linked to refurbished ex-industrial spaces, became an informal itinerary on the travels of this epistemic community. These ‘cool’ areas were not the older museum, monument and gallery quarters, nor the traditional or classical cultural cities, they were cities and spaces that had to be sought out by an international epistemic community in the know. Greg Richards and Julie Wilson began to talk of ‘creative tourists’, those who looked for non-standard tourist sites (they resented being called ‘tourists’) and were often cultural practitioners themselves (Richards and Wilson 2007; Richards 2014). They headed for sites where ‘experiences’ involving interaction with locals could be had. The ‘clusters’ or site-based scenes formed an ideal destination, providing a more authentic experience and the possibility of glimpsing a new, youthful creative culture hidden from mainstream tourists. As global mobility increased, these global flows could bring enhanced visibility of particularly ‘cool’ urban areas. Indeed, these creative tourists could often seek out longer periods of residence, working remotely and locally, entering deep into the scene (Lagerkvist 2013). Their local impact should not be underestimated, as they formed a kind of cosmopolitan micro-site in which global flows of images, sounds, texts, ideas (and people) could be accessed, creating links between similar sites elsewhere. These sites could attract flows of policy makers, consultants, practitioners and cultural consumers in a way that had real impact on the local and carried this local back to the transnational level (often via PowerPoint slides or guest speaker invites extended to managers or owners of these sites). These milieus had a particular relationship to the global, in which a certain cosmopolitan sensibility was fostered through these flows. They helped structure, and were structured by, a certain cosmopolitan sensibility, a habitus oriented both to the local and to the horizon of the global. We might see it as a form of global modernity that was certainly not a slavish copy of some imagined metropolitan origin but was more than the random mutation envisaged in Appadurai’s ‘indigenization’. It was an ideational response to a vision of modernity experienced as an affective identification with the promise of a global creativity. It was more than simply ‘culture as resource’ in Yúdice’s sense, where arguments for cultural funding could utilize its various social benefits (Yúdice 2003). It was culture as a resource, but for a different kind of future, both local and global at once.2



Perhaps one way of approaching the challenge set by the Creative City, and as reflected in many of the chapters in this book, is to think how it articulates both utopian aspiration and the most brutal gentrification; the grassroots looking to the global as a possibility of local change, and local elites seeking to share the development dreams promoted by global capital; the liberation of creative work and its milieu, and the outcome of precarity, eviction and digital surveillance. So, to the multiplicity of globalisation-­plus, we must also add the possibility of globalisation-minus, a single vision, entirely provincial, proposed by a few individuals, representing a very small number of interests, limited to a few measuring instruments, to a few standards and protocols, has been imposed on everyone and spread everywhere (Latour 2018: 13. Emphasis in original).

Neo-Gramscian theory locates the international hegemonic block in terms of the class composition of the internal national blocks. So, the rise of finance to its dominant position within the US has radically inflected the ways in which the US secures its ‘structural dominance’ globally, through financial means. This also would apply to the emergent new blocks in the countries increasingly drawn into its orbit in the 1990s. Though US-dominated global finance is central here, the specific modality of a country’s interconnection with the US is specific and complex— depending on whether this is around resource extraction, outsourced manufacture, business services or data-extraction (all of which are dominated by finance of course). The cultural economy is not an exception. The paradox in this case is that the US is almost completely absent from the debates around creative cities, creative economies—not only withdrawing from UNESCO but simply not concerned with cultural policies or ‘creative’ industries per se. Yet it is globally dominant in the cultural industries. The paradox is explained by the fact that the US dominates both the hard and soft infrastructures of the global cultural economy— satellites, fibre optics, telecom mergers, efficient enforceable intellectual property regimes, weakened state broadcasting monopolies, exclusive distribution deals, digital platforms, proprietary algorithms, liquid capital (Hesmondhalgh 2019). The neoliberal revolution happened also in the realm of culture and communications, rolling back the ‘New World Information Order’, a new global order under its own tutelage (Sparks and Roach 1990; Carlsson 2017; Garner and O’Connor 2019).3 The



cynical adage can be applied to soft power: grab them by the hardware, hearts and minds would follow. The US does not have to promote its ‘creative industries’ sector per se, just ensure that ‘free trade’ extends as far as possible to ‘cultural goods’. UNESCO’s 2005 Convention, which sought to promote global cultural diversity through enshrining the right of member states to treat culture as a non-commodity—the ‘exception culturelle’—can be seen as a late attempt to seize the utopian moment that floated in the space between one hegemonic order and the new. The 2005 Convention has been turned de facto into a vehicle to promote the cultural economy as a modern path to development (Garner and O’Connor 2019). Though UNESCO, as the leading forum for global cultural policy, promotes the cultural economy as a development opportunity for all, it also provides the local context in which governments can promote a creative milieu—that ‘creativity bundle’ outlined in the Introduction—through which, if feasible, cities can connect with global and regional media and entertainment corporations, as well as the various companies controlled through the digital platforms of ‘FAANG’. From this perspective we might see creative cities, especially in their highly capitalised media and digital versions (Xin Gu, this volume), as akin to how Timothy Mitchell describes the ‘technological zones’ in the oil industry: ‘a set of coordinated but widely dispersed regulations, calculative arrangements, infrastructures and technical procedures that render certain objects or flows governable’ (Mitchell 2011: 40). Or in less capitalised creative cities, akin to Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing’s (2015) account of how capitalist value (in the Matsutake mushroom industry) is extracted from a dispersed, non-­ capitalist periphery, from actors whose main motivations are not about profit. Insertion into a global cultural economy does require state legislation and assent—in terms of intellectual property regulation, deregulation of state broadcasting, opening up of the communications infrastructure to competitive international bidding, tax breaks for media companies and so on. At the same time, it requires the coordination of actors who share a certain transnational professional understanding, which in this highly tactile and iterative sector, is in fact a shared transnational habitus. This is produced not within or between global firms but within and between local milieu, as we suggested above. This articulation of production and extraction at the global level also requires an affective buy-in, via the imaginary of a creative city, and the new modern subjects it validates.



Yet such a loose, transnational ‘block’, should it exist (and we are speculating), would be much more complex and unstable than a state-to-state international block—especially in such a fissiparous and fiercely contested field as culture. The scenes and zones of the creative city could also be seen as a version of what Saskia Sassen calls ‘micro-sites in a global civil society’ (2002). In these zones, unorthodox lifestyles, marginalized and sometimes suppressed, received a certain degree of acceptance. New gender roles, expressions of sexuality, or counter-cultural views associated with the residents of these areas could acquire the validity of ‘resource’.4 These sites could claim to speak for a younger, aspirant ‘new middle class’, invested in educational and cultural capital, as opposed to the incumbent powers of property and capital. These youthful groups would assemble around ‘creative industries’ and ‘creative cities’ in ways that could resonate with the kinds of more radical political interventions that followed the various ‘Twitter’ and ‘colour’ ‘revolutions’ over the last decade (Therborn 2014). Here we might imagine, with Akbar Abbas, a modern cosmopolitanism, which ‘involves not so much imagining a transnational state as reimagining the city’, involving ‘less privileged men and women placed or displaced in the transnational space of the city and who are trying to make sense of its spatial and temporal contradictions’, the cosmopolitan as ‘arbitrageur/arbitrageuse’, capable of ‘creating a global culture worthy of the name’ (Abbas 2000: 786). Conceived in this way, these cosmopolitans are not the global elite but exemplars of the local-plus, who reject the singularity of the global-minus, wanting ‘to preserve, maintain, ensure one’s belonging to a land, a place, a soil, a community, a space, a milieu, a way of life, a trade, a skill?… to remain capable of registering more differences, more viewpoints’ (Latour 2018: 15). Yet why do these transnational exemplars of local-plus cosmopolitan-­plus, seem in retreat everywhere? First, neo-liberal financialization, which provided the material and ideational basis of the new global middle class, has begun to create severe problems of inequality and social unrest (Saull 2012; Piketty 2020). The idea that a new ‘rising’ middle classes would spend countries like Brazil, Russian, China and India into the modern has become increasingly untenable, at least outside of China. Since at least 2016, as the more coercive and extractive globalisation-minus has been pursued by the US, many parts of the global have seen a re-assertion of the local-minus of blood, soil, culture, religion in authoritarian form. This has adversely impacted many of those zones of creative tolerance, with many ‘populist’ blocks



linking the older property and capital-invested middle classes with the dispossessed urban working and peasant classes—these days a fluid set of boundaries (Luttwak 1994; Babic 2020). The flows of global finance that did so much to facilitate the new ideoscapes have increasingly shifted the terrain away from educational and cultural capital—the embodied promise of creative labour—towards those with assets in property and finance. These same flows have undermined public services—free education, public health, affordable housing—in such a way as to increasingly exclude younger middle-class people from the modern future on which their aspirations so relied (Davies 2020). This is exacerbated by the routinisation of creative labour, the increase in work disciple, the commodification of the creative commons, and the other travails of the younger global ‘creative class’ (O’Connor and Gu 2020). All these would suggest an on-going ‘buy-out’ from the promise of the creative city—at least amongst the young who are very aware of its failed promises. Where this goes politically is beyond the capacity of this chapter to speculate, other than to say that as the transnational hegemony block around the creative class breaks down, new possibilities will emerge that may not bear the name ‘creative’.

Notes 1. Though in the very last lines Prince calls for research into policy forms ‘not interested in reproducing the status quo, providing a rejoinder to representations of the tyranny of expertise and pointing to the possibility of its redemption in alternative governmental visions’ (2010: 883). We can only guess what these might be. 2. This was exemplified in the new global visibility of contemporary art, whose galleries rapidly shouldered out concert halls and opera houses from their emblematic position in the global cultural city. The example of Bilbao and the Guggenheim played a part, its success in attracting tourists and global media attention representing the old industrial city’s re-invention of itself. But it is easy to miss the ways in which contemporary art had become articulated to forms of popular culture and lifestyle, becoming an important marker of a contemporary global subject. The ability to interpellate such subject positions became increasingly important for global cultural cities, the latest example being the spate of contemporary art museums in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, not to mention Shanghai and Singapore. The art gallery, increasingly associated with urban gentrification, was also a portal into a cosmopolitan modernity (for practicing artists and visitors alike), as well as providing its local flagship presence.



3. This was part of a wider global defeat of the ‘Third World’. Cf. Quinn Slobodian (2018) Globalists. The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. 4. Similar things happened with ‘gay villages’ throughout the Global North, or indeed with the China Towns of previous eras, parlayed into tourism sites.

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Nye, Joseph. 1990. Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power. New York: Basic Books. O’Connor, Justin. 2015. Intermediaries and Imaginaries in the Cultural and Creative Industries. Regional Studies 49 (3): 374–387. O’Connor, Justin, and Xin Gu. 2016. Creative Clusters in Shanghai: Transnational Intermediaries and the Creative Economy. In Making Cultural Cities in Asia: Mobility, Assemblage and the Politics of Aspirational Urbanism, ed. Jun Wang, Tim Oakes, and Yang Yang, 21–35. London: Routledge. ———. 2020. Red Creative. Culture and Modernity in China. Bristol: Intellect. Peck, Jamie. 2005. Struggling with the Creative Class. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 29 (4): 740–770. Peck, Jamie, and Nik Theodore. 2010. Mobilizing Policy: Models, Methods and Mutations. Geoforum 41: 169–174. ———. 2012. Follow the Policy: A Distended Case Approach. Environment and Planning A 44 (1): 21–30. Piketty, Thomas. 2020. Capital and Ideology. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press. Prince, Russell. 2010. Fleshing Out Expertise: The Making of Creative Industries Experts in the United Kingdom. Geoforum 41: 874–884. Richards, Greg. 2014. Creativity and Tourism in the City. Current Issues in Tourism 17 (2): 119–144. Richards, Greg, and Julie Wilson. 2007. Tourism, Creativity and Development. London: Routledge. Sassen, Saskia. 2002. “Global Cities and Diasporic Networks: Micro-sites in Global Civil Society.” In Global Civil Society 2002, edited by Marlies Glasius, Mary Kaldor and Helmut Anheier, 217-238. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Saull, Richard. 2012. Rethinking Hegemony: Uneven Development, Historical Blocs, and the World Economic Crisis. International Studies Quarterly 56: 323–338. Silver, Daniel, and Terry Clark. 2016. Scenescapes: How Qualities of Place Shape Social Life. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Slobodian, Quinn. 2018. Globalists. The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Sparks, Colin, and Colleen Roach. 1990. Farewell to the NWICO? Media, Culture and Society 12 (3): 275–281. Straw, W., and J.  Marchessault. 2002. Cities/Scenes. Public, 22/23. Toronto: Public Access/York University. Therborn, Göran. 2014. The New Masses? Social Bases of Resistance. New Left Review 85: 7–16. Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt. 2015. The Mushroom at End of the World. On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Wang, Hui. 2006. Depoliticised Politics, From East to West. New Left Review 41: 20–45. Yúdice, George. 2003. The Expediency of: Uses of Culture in the Global Era. London: Duke University Press.


Global City as Place Branding Strategy: The Case of Bonifacio Global City (Philippines) Michael Kho Lim

Introduction The concepts of creative cities, smart cities, and global cities have largely been adopted in the Global North, but these buzzwords have yet to be widely and effectively applied in the Global South. There was initially a slow uptake of these ideas in Southeast Asia, but it has gradually picked up in the last five years due to its growing popularity. In fact, the initiative to establish the Southeast Asian Creative Cities Network (SEACCN) only came into fruition in 2014—a decade after the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was organised. SEACCN members are working towards having more cities join the UCCN. As of 2019, 11 out of 246 cities (or five out of 84 countries)—roughly five per cent of the UCCN members are from ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). Thailand has the most number of UCCN

M. K. Lim (*) School of Journalism, Media and Culture, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 X. Gu et al. (eds.), Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia,




membership with Phuket (gastronomy, 2015), Chiang Mai (crafts and folk art, 2017), Sukhothai (crafts and folk art, 2019), and Bangkok (design, 2019). This is followed by Indonesia with Pekalongan (crafts and folk art, 2014), Bandung (design, 2015), and Ambon (music, 2019). The Philippines comes next with Baguio (crafts and folk art, 2017) and Cebu (design, 2019), followed by Singapore (design, 2015) and Vietnam with Hanoi (design, 2019). In the case of the Philippines, there have been city development-related initiatives like the Next Wave Cities program (DICT n.d.) that was launched in 2007 and aimed to contribute to the economic development of the countryside or the regions outside of Metro Manila. The program ran until 2017—the year when the creative cities discourse was formalised in the country (DTI 2017). After which, the Next Wave Cities project was rebranded as digitalcities PH (DICT 2017). There was also the Department of Science and Technology’s technology-based inclusive development program called Smarter Philippines initiative, which comprised the Smarter Cities and Smarter Countryside programs that were rolled out in 2013 (Melchor 2013). The most recent endeavour is the Liveable Cities Challenge that was launched during the Sustainable Cities Summit, in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development and the League of Cities of the Philippines (Luz 2019; ‘About the Project’). With all these technology-driven urban and rural development efforts and sustainable living paradigms in their various creative city labelling, this chapter looks into what can be considered as another emerging trend in the Philippines (and perhaps in other countries, too), where the concept of (global) city is utilised as a place branding and urban re/development strategy for urban spaces that are not officially designated as cities. For example, a large part of metropolitan Manila has places like ‘Eastwood City’ that is part of Quezon City, ‘Newport City’ that is part of Pasay City, ‘Filinvest City’ that is part of Muntinlupa City, ‘Bonifacio Global City’ that is part of Taguig City, and so on. These so-called ‘Cities’ are all (relatively) newly developed spaces that position themselves as a city but they are really situated or belong to a larger part of a ‘real’ city. In this context, ‘real’ city means that it is actually recognised as a city or holds the official status of a city. This chapter focuses on Bonifacio Global City (BGC) as a case study and argues that its effective city branding application has created an image and public perception that it is indeed a city. It looks into how this naming



or place branding strategy overshadows the real city that it is part of and how it has generated a global city imaginary and actually caused two cities to fight over its jurisdiction. This chapter first provides a brief historical background of BGC and then fleshes out its characteristics or elements that give it the semblance of a city or global city for that matter.

Global City as Place Branding Strategy Many cities have used various city-branding strategies to position or promote their cities across the world to attract local and international investors, entice urban upper-middle class and upper-class residents and talents, increase tourism activities, and advance political influence among others (Capone and Lazzeretti 2016: 169; Dinnie 2011: 3; Middleton 2011: 16). These mechanisms would eventually generate different types of capital for the city and shape its identity (Kavaratzis 2004: 15; Kavaratzis and Ashworth 2005: 512; Zhang and Zhao 2009: 246; Zhao 2015: 147). At other times, it functions more as a need to make the city more “updated” or to “reflect the contemporary reality of the city” (Dinnie 2011: 98). Place branding has become a more common practice for many cities across the world, as competition for investment, business, market, and tourism intensifies (Zhang and Zhao 2009: 246; Zhao 2015: 107). In this sense, cities are treated as products (Zhang and Zhao 2009: 246) or considered as brands themselves (Kavaratzis 2004: 4; Kavaratzis and Ashworth 2005: 512; Prilenska 2012: 12); and “the application of product branding to places” is what Kavaratzis and Ashworth call as place branding or city branding (2005: 508; qtd. in Capone and Lazzeretti 2016: 169). It is the successful execution of a branding strategy that creates and gives the place or city its distinct competitive advantage (Sevin 2014: 47; Zhao 2015: 107). However, branding a place is more complex than branding a product because the former involves a much broader target group and stakeholders (Sevin 2014: 47) such as “citizens, tourists, and public and private sector organization decision makers—and each is looking for different benefits” (Middleton 2011: 15–16), while the latter is more defined and targeted. The Case of Bonifacio Global City Bonifacio Global City uses the concept of ‘global city’ as part of its name to brand itself as such. It is a relatively young and new ‘city’ that lies



several kilometres southeast of Metro Manila. What makes this an interesting case study is the fact that it is technically not a city based on the Philippine Standard Geographic Code, which is the basis for the “systematic classification and coding of geographic areas in the Philippines” (PSGC n.d.). This document indicates the guidelines or criteria for classifying an area as a highly urbanised city or not. What then is BGC if it is not really a city? In 1902, BGC was called Fort McKinley, named after US President William McKinley, when the United States government bought this multi-­ hectare property to become its military base in the Philippines. Fort McKinley was then turned over to the Philippine government in 1949, three years after the Philippines gained political independence from the US. In 1957, Fort McKinley became the permanent headquarters of the Philippine Army and was renamed ‘Fort Bonifacio’—an endeavour to ‘localize’ the name and signify its independence by naming it after the leader of the Philippine Revolution against Spain, Andres Bonifacio (‘History’). In the 1990s, a portion of Fort Bonifacio (around 200 hectares) was turned over to the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA). This is a government entity created through Republic Act (RA) 7227 in 1992, which transformed all previous US military bases and Metro Manila camps into a new urban space for “productive civilian use” (‘History’) or a “commercially sustainable development” (Saulon 2016). Vested with the powers of a corporation under Republic Act 7227 or the Bases Conversion Act of 1992, BCDA aims to expand the economic opportunities for Filipinos. As such, BCDA engages in public-private partnerships that carry out key infrastructure projects like tollways, airports, seaports, and other major real estate developments (‘About BCDA’). In 2003, BCDA partnered with Ayala Land, Inc. and Evergreen Holdings, Inc. to re/develop Fort Bonifacio into what is now known by its commercial name as Bonifacio Global City (‘History’). The closure or removal of the US bases in the Philippines is the “urban change event” (Roberts et al. 2000: 27) that has led to the urban regeneration of Fort Bonifacio. According to Roberts, Sykes and Granger, urban regeneration is a strategic (2000: 26) and continuous process (2000: 6) that “seeks to resolve urban problems and bring about a lasting improvement in the economic, physical, social and environmental condition of an area that has been subject to change or offers opportunities of improvement” (2000: 18). This is usually a state-led intervention that



comes in the form of a public-private consensus or partnerships (2000: 24; Zhao 2015: 107). The public-private partnership is an alternative form of public funding that aims to “benefit all partners in joint investments and long-term relationships” and “reduces the burden on taxpayers in the delivery of both capital and services by relying on private capital, expertise, and business practices” (Zhao 2015: 107). This type of collaboration between the public and private sector reflects Hankinson’s idea of place brands as a relational network and what Dinnie describes as a “distributive approach to the ownership of the city branding strategy” (2011: 5–6). At other times, this strategy also becomes “the basis for developing policy to pursue economic development” (Kavaratzis 2004: 58). For instance, the creation of the Bases Conversion Development Authority clearly states that one of its objectives is “to manage and operate through private sector companies developmental projects outside the jurisdiction of subsidiary companies and Special Economic Zones declared by presidential proclamations” and those established under RA 7227. In the case of Fort Bonifacio, a portion of the property was sold to a private real estate developer that has given it a major makeover. As corporate branding and strategies are adopted, the property is transformed into its own flagship project and is given a new name and personality—practically a new identity. The area has flourished and soon enough, it became a major success that territorial disputes between the two big cities of Taguig and Makati intensified. The jurisdiction case between the two cities started in 1993 after BCDA was formed and has been an ongoing battle since then. In March 2017, the Court of Appeals decided in favour of Taguig City, but Makati City is still not giving up the fight (Bacungan 2017). Inside Bonifacio Global City The BGC used to be a relatively remote location. For some time, it was tentatively used as a training venue for reservists right after the US Bases left and before the urban regeneration started. Using Manila as the (central) point of reference, Fort Bonifacio was generally inaccessible to people with no private means of transport back then. There used to be no direct mass transport system until Bonifacio Transport Corporation was formed in 1998 to address this concern. The urban development of BGC has been so fast that it has now become a major, high-end business district and world-class residential area and has created an identity of being a city on its own.



Since BGC adopted the ‘global city’ concept as part of its name, this raises the question as to whether BGC can be considered as a global city despite it not being officially a city. In her book The Global City, Sassen lists four functions or characteristics of the global city. First, it must have a strong command of the world economy; second, it must have specialised service firms and international finance centres; third, it must have key locations for development and innovation in the service and finance industries; and fourth, it must serve as a market for these developments and innovation (1991: 4–5). Following this framework, Sassen’s model of a global city is mostly centred on the economic activities that run the city and how it impacts the rest of the world. Given this scenario, BGC can be said to be on its way to becoming a ‘global city,’ if not already one. Looking at BGC more closely, its renaming or rebranding (to Bonifacio Global City) gives it a more international character and exudes modernity, elegance and prestige. The name has a cosmopolitan ring to it and connotes an industrialised and advanced megalopolis while retaining the location’s historical element. In a very short time, BGC has become a symbol of business, luxury and affluence, where mostly young urban professionals work and reside. Given BGC’s new look, its several urban development plans, and the continual influx of corporate re/locators, BGC is positioning itself as Metro Manila’s ‘new’ Central Business District. In a way, it can be said that it is actually competing with the upscale Makati City, which has reigned in this kind of space even prior to gaining its official city status in 1995. Since the 1960s, Makati has always been the country’s premier Central Business District, housing many of the country’s multinational corporations, international organizations, and embassies (Castro 2017). It is interesting to note however that Ayala Corporation, the property developer of Makati, is also the same entity that is responsible for the re/development of BGC.  The Ayala-led consortium has later contracted the services of Hellmuth, Obata, and Kassabaum, a US-based global design, architecture, engineering and urban planning firm, to design and develop BGC (Roderos 2013: 82). The idea is to replicate Makati’s successful urban development (Choi 2016: 583) but at the same time serve as a solution or response to Makati’s growing problems (Garrido 2013: 174). Thus, while it can be argued that Ayala is cannibalizing its Makati development plans, it is also the city’s way of re-strategizing or redefining its identity, as well as a way of decongesting it and expanding its market reach.



Since BGC’s redevelopment, countless major local and international business establishments have either set up their headquarters or relocated their offices to BGC (Talavera 2015). These include Information Technology-Business Process Outsourcing and Knowledge Process Outsourcing firms like Deutsche Knowledge Services, Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corp., JP Morgan Chase & Co., IBM Philippines; financial service companies like Aboitiz Equity Ventures, EastWest Bank, Maybank, Citibank, Metrobank, NASDAQ, Philippine Stock Exchange, Philamlife, Prulife UK, and Sunlife; professional service firms like CVC Law, Del Rosario & Del Rosario Law; advertising agencies like McCann Erickson and Ogilvy & Mather; and consumer goods and telecommunications firms like Bench, Coca-Cola, and Globe Telecom (KMC Savills 2014; Citibank n.d.; Romero 2019; Dumlao-Abadilla 2018). BGC is also home to international organizations like the British Council and International Finance Corporation (British Council, DFA: n.d.-b), and BGC is about to welcome some government offices and agencies like the Senate and the Supreme Court to its grounds (Romero 2019; Punay 2018). BGC also houses The Curve, the only accredited tower by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority that is located within the special economic zone called e-square (‘New BGC’). Furthermore, one of the country’s leading healthcare institutions, St. Luke’s Medical Center, has set up another facility in BGC (IMTJ 2009). As BGC also aspires to become a university city, it is also home to several prominent universities like University of the Philippines and De La Salle University, Enderun Colleges, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and Technological University of the Philippines. Various international schools can also be found here, including International School Manila, British International School, Manila Japanese School, and Korean International School Philippines. Several foreign embassies are also located here such as those of Austria, Colombia, Denmark, Hungary, Israel, Kuwait, Morocco, Norway, Oman, Poland, Singapore, and Sweden (DFA: n.d.-a). BGC’s landscape and ambience is also enhanced by several green spaces and parks, including the high-rise residential area Serendra Park, several five-star hotels like Hyatt, Shangri-la, F1 Hotel, shopping centres like SM Aura, S&R membership shopping, Market! Market!, Forbes Town Center, the nearby Venice Piazza Grand Canal Mall at McKinley Hill, and other leisure clubs like the Manila Polo Club.



This is not to say however that BGC has forgotten or neglected the arts and culture elements of the ‘global city.’ As Kunzmann puts it, culture play a very important role in sharpening the city’s image and strengthening its identity. This can come in the form of arts, design, film, music, history, architecture as part of its promotional campaigns (2004: 384–5; Kavaratzis 2005: 4). Through the non-profit organisation Bonifacio Art Foundation, Inc., BGC has set up its Art programs that put up monuments and installation art on empty lots to “give the city some soul and personality.” It considers the city as a blank canvas and introduced a new wave of “art-infused city planning” in 2014. The streets and walls of BGC are suddenly filled with art—from larger-than-life murals to any flat surfaces like garbage bins, transformer vaults, sidewalks, etc. (Labrador 2017). BGC has also built the very first science museum in the Philippines called The Mind Museum, which was five years in the making and opened its doors in 2012. Plans are also underway to develop the Fort Bonifacio war tunnels into a museum and tourist site (Sembrano 2014; ‘Wartime’). BGC also houses KidZania, an indoor theme park in the form of a city scaled for children, “complete with buildings, paved streets, vehicles, a functioning economy, and recognizable destinations in the form of ‘establishments’ sponsored and branded by leading multi-national and local brands” (‘The Kidzania Concept’). Moreover, BGC also serves as a host venue to many big events like film festivals and concerts. Meanwhile, the BGC Arts Center serves as the new cultural hub of BGC by “providing platforms for people to share their art with the public, spaces for strangers to get creative, or mediums to simply inspire those who seek inspiration” (‘Our Story’). It hosts the BGC Arts Center Festival, which aims to cultivate art and culture and make them accessible to the public. While all these developments sound promising and look progressive, critics have pointed out that the effects of gentrification and neoliberalism continue to haunt the city. For instance, just less than a kilometre away from BGC’s trendiest clubs and high-end business establishments lies West Rembo, a considerably lower-class Makati neighbourhood that hides under the shadows of Makati’s and BGC’s high-rises (Calderon 2015). Any sign of poverty, decay, disorder or “Third World-ness” is tucked away from sight through the use of extensive landscaping and maintenance, and integrated security and traffic management system (Michel 2010: 396). While this stark contrasting image accentuates the class divide and uneven development in these cities, it also reinforces the image of the global city



imaginary by creating BGC as a self-contained community or city for that matter. As such, BGC demarcates and projects itself clearly as a real global city that appears to be separate from and even more real than the real city that it is actually part of.

Conclusion Given all the characteristics and elements of BGC, it can be argued that BGC is indeed a global city based on Sassen’s definitional framework. Technically speaking however, BGC can be considered as a quasi-city within a city because of the absence of its official cityhood status. As such, this case study also raises the question as to whether a ‘city’ really needs to have its formal ‘city’ designation to be regarded as a (global) city. The case of BGC proves that one does not. All one needs is a space big enough that has all the necessary (global) ‘city’ elements, then apply the appropriate promotional strategies, and one can eventually be labelled as a global city. By marketing and branding BGC as a city, it has increased the location’s value significantly, brought in huge investments, and generated numerous job opportunities (‘About BCDA’). The strategy of using ‘city’ as a branding concept has proven to be an effective method in positioning or introducing an urban regeneration project. However, since private real estate developers have played a key role in regenerating Fort Bonifacio, the application of corporate branding is more evident. In fact, it can be said that BGC is really a branding exercise more than an urban re/development project. There is a strong focus on business and economic development primarily because it was a huge investment for these township developers, and there was a need to use branding strategies to open opportunities for profit generation (Hultman et  al. 2016: 5154). After all, branding is first and foremost a business practice in twentieth century usage. As Hultman asserts, “Brands are arguably an organization’s most powerful asset,” which can help these companies leverage their benefits (2016: 5154). BGC has been so successful that the ‘real’ city of Taguig, which BGC is part of, is using BGC as part of the city’s overall promotional campaign. While it does not highlight or puts BGC on the foreground, the city of Taguig is able to ride on BGC’s popularity in increasing its influence and competitive advantage as a city. However, it also creates confusion among the public, as BGC appears to be competing with Taguig City, and Taguig City seems to be competing against itself. Nonetheless, BGC is a



remarkably successful case of a new urban development space that has been transformed from what used to be a flat and uninteresting military base.

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Creative Cities, Technological Utopianism and Cultural Retrofitting Xin Gu

Creative Cities: Towards Neo-liberal Governmentality ‘Creative cities’ emphasize new forms of softer, human centred planning, breaking with top down development models and looking to the integration of arts and culture into the everyday life and landscape of the city (Jacobs 1969). This soft planning idea was picked up by post-industrial cities in the developed West as a way to revitalize cities after the departure of manufacturing (Peck 2005; Evans 2009). The development of the ‘creative city’ involved large-scale flagship cultural institutions to improve the image/brand of the city, its sense of identity and to enhance the immediate and adjacent built environment for commercial, cultural and recreational purposes (Landry and Bianchini 1995; Florida 2005).

X. Gu (*) School of Media, Film and Journalism, Monash University, Caulfield East, VIC, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 X. Gu et al. (eds.), Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia,




One problem with the implementation of creative city policies derived from the open-endedness of the term ‘creativity’ and the subsequent confused taxonomy of ‘creative industries’, resulting in multiple and contradictory approaches. Based on the UK experience, Pratt (2008) categorized four ‘creative city’ policy approaches, all of which would need to be carried out in consultation with a range of departments. This was initially heralded as a transition to ‘cultural planning’ (Evans 2009) or ‘the participatory city’ (Bianchini and Parkinson 1994). However, in the UK as elsewhere, the departments in charge of local economic development became increasingly important in shaping and defining creative city policies through their ability to translate these soft objectives into capital spending on ‘hard’ infrastructure. Critics suggested this resulted in the adoption of neo-liberal thinking at the heart of the cultural policy making process. Meyrick, Phiddian and Barnett’s book, for example, looked at the impossibility for arts organisations in Australia to speak of cultural values beyond blunt transaction between funding bodies and audience data (2018). Aside from cultural policy, the ‘creative city’ is indicative of other broad governance changes. Within the school of urban planning, ‘creative city’ policies have been viewed as a new discourse able to inform new soft practices which prioritize the local as opposed to the global (Cooke and Lazzeretti 2008; Grodach 2013). The emphasis on ‘the local’ in the form of a small scale, highly embedded cultural economy, differentiated urban cultural planning from that of traditional local economic development, and encompasses a range of social, cultural and economic objectives (Pratt 2010), adapting also to different local and trans-local contexts (Scott 2006). This, however, has been co-opted very quickly by ‘entrepreneurial’ local governments, often led by economic development agencies, to celebrate commercial projects in alliance with local real estate developers. The ‘entreprenuerial city’ is a key feature of recent capitalist societies, as described by Harvey (1989), where governments, pressured by inter-city competitions, become increasingly focused on isolated urban development projects rather than investment in large scale urban planning covering not only economic but progressive social reforms. More recently, this emphasis on the local in ‘creative city’ initiatives around the world has been weakened, with the introduction of a plethora of new buzzwords such as smart cities, digital cities and intelligent cities. Within the new development rhetoric, the attraction and retention of global corporations has become a priority in the designing and planning of creative cities, with a particular focus on world class digital infrastructures



for connectivity and its governmentality based on what Morozov called ‘surveillance dataism’ (2019). For many Asian countries, developed and developing, the ‘creative city’ has been a borrowed term (Kong and O’Connor 2009). Translating into diversely different local contexts, ‘creative cities’ in Asia often means ‘de-­ politicising’—focusing on cultural consumption, global footloose cultural capital and economic development. The focus on the global media industry is not surprising here. As Florida’s ‘creative class’ theory further substantiated, media workers and Florida’s imagined ‘creative class’ share some common characteristics. They are active networkers, favour ‘tolerant’ and diverse locales and profess a strong entrepreneurial spirit (Florida 2002). Just as the skyscrapers, shopping malls and up-market cultural consumption venues all contribute to a particular instrumental vision of the globalised creative city, large-scale media cluster developments reveal an equally instrumental approach to the new knowledge economy (Cooke and Lazzeretti 2008). What the new creative cities in Asia often incorporate—digital infrastructure, real estate development, business services and collective branding—means that cities that don’t share the same political, economic and cultural contexts as the west can ignore the cultural value question altogether in the development of ‘creative city’. This is a far cry from which creative city thinking originated in the post-­ industrial West. A ‘soft’ infrastructure approach is key to the creative city narrative, focusing on communities, incremental developments and later on sustainable development (Landry and Bianchini 1995). But the new agencies and new processes of cultural policy making in the form of ‘creative cities’ have adopted ‘soft’ planning ideas in a way that aligns them with ‘neoliberal governmentality’ as Lemke, using Foucault (2002: 11) outlined, What we observe today is not a diminishment or reduction of state sovereignty and planning capacities but a displacement from formal to informal techniques of government and the appearance of new actors on the scene of government (e.g., nongovernmental organizations) that indicate fundamental transformations in statehood and a new relation between state and civil society actors.

In their attempts to copy and mimic the developed West, many developing Asian cities would have to internalise neoliberal governmentality and this, I shall argue, is by no means straightforward. As Mould (2015)



suggested, the creative city has become a ‘dominant political economic hegemony of urban creativity’. He calls for practices of ‘urban subversion’ to disrupt neoliberal governmentality. For others, the different interpretation of ‘creative cities’ in Asia, reflects a deeply rooted relationship between subject and state, and the role culture plays in it—culture both as national identity building and expanded citizenship, and culture as a technology of control (O’Connor and Shaw 2014). This chapter explores the above by asking what lies behind a new emphasis across Asian cities on digital media industries, urban media technologies and the new governance model required to deliver these. I argue that the creative city approach, focusing on global media corporations and smart technologies, is aiding the spread of westernised neoliberal governance ideas. This is a process of ‘cultural retro-fitting’—where cities adopt new cultural forms and technologies to their existing cultural system. The often involves labelling the latter as old-fashioned, pre-modern, or regressive—as opposed to new modernising cultural forms from the developed West. I outline, first, how cultural retrofitting illustrates a fundamental shift towards ‘neoliberal governmentality’, illustrated by the shift from culture as national identity building or expanded citizenship to culture as a segment of local economic sector. Secondly, the emergence of this new breed of creative city, often combined in hybrid form with the Smart, Intellecigent and Knowledge City, suggests East Asian cities are increasingly looking beyond culture and creativity as crucial to their transition to a post-industrial economy, to seek the silver lining of the construction of a pervasive cybernetic urban environment. I outline how this is shaped by logics of techno-utopianism and cultural imperialism central to current neoliberal governmentality.

Creative Cities and Cultural Retrofitting Evans (2009) suggests that the recent embrace of media clusters was driven by a globalized ‘digital city’ utopia which emerged from a ‘lack of alternative strategies and sustainable growth options’ in these cities (2009: 1032). The ‘media city’, emphasizing corporatization and the global flow of capital thus becomes the only option for many aspiring global cities willing to sacrifice their local development context for a globalized one (Cooke and Lazzeretti 2008). There are two schools of thought on media cities which have been influential in the contemporary creative cities rhetoric. One is on the



extent to which technological innovation, especially ubiquitous computing or real time technology, has transformed urban planning. This focuses on how digital technologies could make a city controllable in new and more fine-grained ways, thus improving the efficiency of public service delivery (Foth 2009). This is comparable to the creative city emphasis on ‘softer’ and human centred planning—except the kind of urban economy media city governments aim to serve is the clean, weightless, media and knowledge economy, not the broad cultural coalition assembled around the ‘creative industries’. ICT networks are now the highways, bridges and tunnels for this new inner-city urban economy (Marvin and Granham 2001). Dutton’s 1987 invention of the ‘wired city’ laid the foundation for thinking about the incorporation of digital infrastructure within the urban fabric. This term began a new race between cities, especially newer and wanna-be global cities, resulting in heavy investment in information and communication technologies (Dutton et al. 1987). A second school of thought on media cities is based on the understanding that cities are made exciting because of the concentration of innovation and creativity. As Hollands (2008) argued convincingly, urban infrastructure alone is not going to make any cities smarter, it is the marriage between technology and human creativity that makes a city smart. Marvin and Granham (2001)’s Cyber cities terminology further illustrates this point. Their concept rests upon the theorization of ‘networked urbanism’ which extends the perception of digital infrastructure as standalone agent. Instead, they argue, networked infrastructures are socially defined, and are shaping and structuring the social and cultural aspect of cities. Both of these ideas have been adopted by creative cities in Asia. However, there is a tendency to prioritize the market, global media corporations and the centralization of service delivery by governments. This often includes the building of large media clusters or digital hubs to compete as regional media hubs in countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia (Weiss 2014). The logic through which the creative cities’ idea was made operational can be understood using Ong’s term ‘graduated sovereignty’ (2000), a sophisticated model of ‘cultural retrofitting’ in the governance of these temporally fragmented projects. They are made to look like the creative cities in the developed West by adding ‘modern’ cultural infrastructures and technologies to older cultural systems. Adding a Starbucks café in a historical city in Cambodia and building smart screens in rural Chinese villages are just some of the examples of cultural retrofitting. It relies on a



pre-requisite of cultural knowledge and technological knowhow that are often missing from the environment they are put in. The neoliberal governance techniques often adopted by Asian governments in this process of ‘cultural retrofitting’ has not meant an entirely ‘free market’ in the Western liberal democratic sense. In some cases, such as China, this has led to a consolidation of state power and an alternative narrative of modernisation (O’Connor and Gu 2006, 2020). In others, this has led to new tendencies for decolonizing the mentality of ‘catching up’ with the West (Chakrabarty 2005). These arguments can be illustrated through ‘intelligent cities’, a more recent addition to the media cities tradition, capitalising on the idea of individual creativity and innovation. It advocates ICT as a developmental strategy for cities, with an emphasis on how the success of this intelligent environment is dependent upon the capacity of local communities for learning and innovation (Komninos 2008). This globalizing ‘individualized innovation system’ has encountered a very different cultural context in Asian cities. The ability of individuals to engage with these high-tech infrastructures is limited—most of these infrastructures are under used by the locals and are unable to connect with the broader cultural life in cities because of different attitudes towards ‘participation’ (Brooker 2012). In addition to infrastructure investment, the emphasis on attracting global media corporations is particularly ill-conceived, considering the amount of cultural retrofitting that is required. This means adding new infrastructures that are attractive to international firms irrespective of local needs. The media industry’s predominant business activities entail the production and distribution of ‘symbolic goods’ which place high value on originality, innovation and creativity with low costs for re-production and distribution (Hesmondhalgh and Baker 2010). Because of the highly complex nature of media production, clustering becomes a norm in global media cities with a well established creative milieu—film in Hollywood, newspaper publishing in New  York (Scott 2000), advertising and other creative industries in Soho London (Pratt 2002). This presents particular challenges to cities that do not have an established creative milieu. Media industries present substantial differences in terms of their socio-­ spatial preferences to other forms of locally based creative sectors. Markusen (2006) observed the very different needs of artists groups in comparison to the other occupational groups included in Flordia’s ‘creative class’. Artist spaces are shaped in particular by a set of urban politics including a strong policy commitment to artistic development within a



community development context. Although many artist-creatives work for local media industries and tend to co-locate with these employing firms, their decision to remain often involves not only economic considerations but potential to engage in aesthetic and activist urban interventions. This would be particular challenging for Asian cities, who aim to attract global media personel and companies from very different cultural contexts. Media industries increasingly operate outside of national boundaries and are frequently more sensitive to changes in the global market place than they are domestic conditions (Deuze 2007). Media cities without the immediate connection to the global creative labour market, face some serious challenges in attracting talent. The success of media clusters is highly dependent upon existing labour market environments, without which the sustainability of the media cluster is highly questionable (Pratt 2008). Local creative industries thrive in milieus that are about long-term trust and shared values between large numbers of very small companies and freelancers; these values may not be shared by media industries operating on short term contracts and across temporarily linked extra-local media markets (Oakley 2006). Thus we cannot assume that globally integrated media industries can be easily translated into localities. Given the significant size of the investment required to attract such global companies and their requisite personnel, cities may spare investment in the broad creative milieu and focus only on flagship media cluster projects. Equally, there is a close correlation between media clusters and gentrification, a process that works at much greater speed and with higher levels of economic and political capital than that traditionally associated with arts-led gentrification (Novy and Colomb 2013). In the Asian context, cultural retrofitting has often meant investing in high end amenities (Starbucks and fusion restaurants) to attract and confirm a global gaze. In summary, cultural retrofitting in those Asian cities that hope to develop creative cities with a particular emphasis on media industries and digital media infrastructures will require a re-design of existing creative milieus and investment in new cultural infrastructures that may not match local social and cultural values or priorities. In the following section, I discuss how the lack of an urban cultural politics is problematic in the development of this new cultural infrastructure of the creative city. These cities are governed by a technological utopianism framed under the need for perpetual growth, modernisation and catching up with the West. In addition, technologies are not value free. Due to the global domination of Global North media corporations designing the smart interfaces for cities,



and in their domination of global cultural production and consumption, cultural retrofitting may bring western cultural ideologies with them, creating new conditions for cultural imperialism.

Technological Utopianism and Urban Cultural Politics Influenced by technological utopianism, creative cities in Asia are in a race to embrace large scale smart city infrastructures. Automated urban data is increasingly applied to managing urban systems in a real-time fashion by many mega cities in Asia. A centralized control hub fed by data from a network of CCTV and cameras around the city is widely adopted by mega cities, from Jakarta to Shanghai to Mumbai and Tokyo. The centralized system allows for quick response to urban problems such as traffic congestion and air pollution. Due to its abundant, systematic and well-defined value from a governmental perspective, there is a tendency to pool all surveillance and analytics into an integrated system. More recently, claims for an ‘ industrial revolution 4.0’ have gained much currency across Asia. With Thailand 4.01 or Made in China 20252 well underway, the idea that countries in the developing world may surpass others by embracing new technologies has fueled a new round of inter-city competition. Large media complexes are now emerging rapidly in Asia. The ‘Tomorrow City’ in Songdong (South Korea) and ‘Digital Corridors’ (Malaysia) are just a few examples of this new development trend. This technological utopianism is fuelled by a particular type of post-colonial cultural politics—an attitude of ‘catching up’ with the West and a strong sentiment for growth and modernisation. As Datta (2015)’s case study has shown, this utopianism is the dominant ideology when it comes to urban development in post-colonial India. Datta identified three key problems when it comes to the top down planning of smart cities in India,—digital solutionism, entrepreneurial urbanisation and fast policy. India is by no means unique in this uncritical embrace of technology solutionism. In South Korea, the policy interest in developing media clusters in cities is largely driven by neoliberal governmentality intertwined with nation branding and modernisation, as argued by Schwak (2016). Despite different modalities of governance and social control compared to countries in the West, South Korea as in many Asia countries, has turned its cities into



successful nodes for global capitalist markets and their citizens into subjects for neoliberal markets. There have been mixed results from this urban media frenzy. On the one hand, because of asymmetrical media and cultural power globally, emerging media cities could become increasingly chaotic and dissonant due to deep conflicts between globalised media infrastructures and their localised cultural uses. Sundaram (2010)’s study of Delhi’s media urbanism reminds us of how post-colonial modernisation projects can lead to problems like ‘infrastructure breakdown, scandal, pollution’ (2010: 3). This is the case not just in developing countries but also developed ones in Asia. As Granier and Kudo (2016) argued, without a critical cultural politics to ensure participation, these creative cities projects with an emphasis on building digital technologies have created little opportunity for citizen participation. Instead they are mostly effective in shaping public behavior as evidenced by Japan’s ‘smart city’ projects. (Granier and Kudo 2016). On the other hand, local adaptation often involves low-cost technologies enriching the experiences of media infrastructures and media formats, and leading to de-centralisation of cultural production and distribution. The focus on different kind of creative agencies and governmentality has presented new opportunities for many Asian countries to cultivate different development paradigms to the authoritarian ones. Abidin Kusno (2013)’s works on how Indonesians engage with post-Suharto cultural politics through the spatial reconfiguration of the capital city of Jakarta is just one example. Here concerns for environmental degradation, injustice and violence have all been included in the reimagining of a new urban order. Overwhelming evidence suggests the ignoring of local cultural politics as forms of neoliberal governance sweep across many Asian countries. Instead of incorporating local cultural values, these projects often rely on globalised values to guide its practice. This is exemplified in several ways. First, an emphasis on local culture values is replaced by that of the focus on globalization and modernisation. Second, the rights to the city of local communities, in particular arts and cultural communities, is threatened by real estate interests, which colonise the central city areas. Last, an emphasis on democratic cultural participation is reduced simply to improving the citizens’ digital literacy. One emergent area of research on the function of urban cultural politics is ‘maker culture’, associated with the ‘open source movement’ and the development of makerspaces3 as a key index of the creative city. As many cities are buying into this individualized innovation model and the



‘start-up entrepreneurialism’ exemplified in makerspaces, researchers have discovered highly institutionalized makerspaces shaped by global media corporations as well as by the different social and cultural realities in Asia. Murray and Hand (2015)’s study of India’s Jugaad suggests similarities with Chinese Shanzhai culture—they are not the Western ‘commons based peer production’ projects based on the logic of ‘gift economy’(Benkler and Nissenbaum 2006), instead they are grassroots industries resisting economic constraints presented by the concentration of global media capital (Gu and Shea 2019). Different maker cultures emerged out of local practices through digital tinkering and niche manufacturing in both countries and are testimony to a ‘pirate modernity’ (Sundaram 2010)—a divergence from the existing westernized modernisation. More research is needed to bring into light different strategies of such urban subversion.

Media Cities and Cultural Imperialism Writing in the early 2000s, Hesmondhalgh argued that there was a tendency for the developed West to exploit the ‘indirect’ power of its domination of cultural forms in a way that had resulted in a new global hegemony (Hesmondhalgh 2008). This tendency was deepened by the arrival of ‘platform capitalism’ (Srnicek 2017), referring to proprietary practices by global corporations co-operating with governments to extract data from users. The Big Data that is generated from user data for commercial exploitation and political surveillance has been labelled by some as ‘data colonialism’ (Couldry and Mejias 2019). Some have argued further that under the influence of the logic of ‘platform capitalism’, cultural hierarchies between the West and the rest are being re-enforced rather than diminishing (e.g. Yong Jin 2007). These recent developments have become increasingly influential in shaping the Asian creative city agenda. On the one hand, the global expansion of the world’s most powerful companies in the development of smart city initiatives in the region creates new conditions for what some have termed ‘digital colonialism’ (Kwet 2019). To date, most smart cities initiatives have been driven by companies such as IBM, CISCO, Microsoft and Oracle, based mostly in the US. As Kwet pointed out, ideologies of US colonial power have been assimilated into ‘tech’ products, creating a twenty-first century form of colonialism (Kwet 2019: 17),



Western doctrines glorify Big Data, centralized clouds, proprietary systems, smart cities littered with surveillance, automation, predictive analytics, and similar inventions.

The core issue here is the asymmetry of resources around Big Data in the development of smart cities. When a country is without the repository of data, they will grow dependent on the large data sets and systems offered by global corporations. This is why the present design of smart city and intelligent city models rely on centralization rather than decentralization. This architectural design (cloud computing etc.) gives those in control of data enormous power. Whilst in countries like China, this has led to an insular state operating system rendering the population vulnerable for state surveillance, in countries where infrastructures are more likely to be developed in whole or part by transnational firms, it is likely for that system to be manipulated by global platform corporations. The asymmetricities of cultural power is another issue. Maintaining a global hierarchy has become a key logic for global corporations aiming to extract value and build their legitimacy through the juxtapositions of ‘us’ (the developed West) and ‘them’ (the rest). Dal Maso et  al. (2019)’s research uncovers how platform companies propagate cultural asymmetries to extract value. In their case, the articulation of different cultural discourses means re-enforcing cultural hierarchies of the Western system as more superior than a Chinese one in order to extract values out of the Chinese market. Theorists also point to a more sophisticated and hidden model of cultural imperialism, challenging the assumption that the proliferation of cultural industries exports in Asia would result in a reduction of US dominance. In South Korea, US domination has increased through American firms’ capacity to control global supply chains in local Korean cultural industries from production to distribution, and to consumption (Yong Jin 2007). Despite the above, creative city policies have been popular amongst Asian governments, based in part on logic of counter cultural imperialism in the region. China’s from ‘made in China’ to ‘created in China’ is undoubtedly an attempt to enhance domestic cultural production and consumption (O’Connor and Gu 2006). And cities that are most threatened by processes of globalization were keen to invest in creative cities schemes, in particular ICT and smart urban infrastructures to enhance domestic cultural production. Kyoto, Singapore and Seoul were early adopters of ubiquitous computing technologies to produce



infrastructure for local cultural production and consumption. China has invested heavily in building film clusters and co-productions of Hollywood blockbuster films, hoping to expand their ‘soft power’ overseas. The phenomenon of the Korean wave is a successful testimony, as Ryoo (2009) suggested, to a peripheral country successfully re-imagined and re-positioned in order to take advantage of its unique cultural powers, aided by new media technologies. This new breed of creative cities—under the influence of platform capitalism, highly capitalized, reliant on the provision of large datasets and deeply embedded in transnational cultural institutions, is becoming increasingly the norm across Asian cities. It is in this context that the tendencies to digital cultural ‘imperialism’ should command the particular attention of policy makers. The production of very large datasets about populations is not a recent invention. Governments across the world produce national censuses, businesses are used to collecting information about their customers. What’s important in relation to the Asian context is a notable lack of means by which the public could resist automated data collection due to very different attitudes towards privacy and democratic participation. As Lyon (2003) observed, much of the discussion on surveillance measures based on Western notion of privacy may be inappropriate in Asia because of very different cultural and political practices around privacy. Kostka’s (2019) study of people’s attitude towards the social credit system in China supports this, by observing how public attitudes can easily be manipulated. The research found that the majority of Chinese people believe surveillance systems can improve the quality of life in cities compared to survey results in the West. There are also few means to resist the cultural domination of global corporations within many developing countries in Asia. Under the influence of American cultural domination, the capacity for local communities in these countries to take issues of democracy, sovereignty and privacy into their own hands is a real challenge. There are few public debates in the region on cultural imperialism. UNESCO’s 2005 Convention4 on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions has few legal tools to counter such cultural dominance, despite the fact that this was a key part of its original purpose; many countries have adopted 2005 Convention as a way of developing creative industries for economic development. Emergening forms of culture and creativity are increasingly institutionalized by transnational corporations due to an uneven distribution



of global cultural power. In addition, most creative city policy approaches are not aimed at developing grassroots activism; instead, much alternative culture is quickly institutionalization by local entrepreneurial governments.

Conclusion The vision of the ‘creative city’ has clearly motivated many Asian cities to adopt a modernisation-based on catching up with the West. It is seen to be highly effective in re-branding what appear ‘non-places’ as new creative destinations and locations. It offers, on the surface, a hope that investing heavily in globally standardized cultural—and increasingly technological—infrastructure can be a direct route to a successful global city. Nevertheless, such urban technological utopianism requires what is often a crude cultural retrofitting, creating new conditions for cultural imperialism. By not nurturing a local urban cultural politics and policy, the new creative cities in Asia are at risk of re-entering another round of perpetual catching up, where western cultural knowledge, cultural values and ways of life are privileged over local ones. The new identity of this recent breed of creative city rarely connects to the previous cultural histories of their cities. The new creative cities are increasingly devoid of any form of ‘authenticity’. In addition, as technologies have become a crucial part of the development of these creative cities, they have been increasingly re-structured as a surveillance mechanism, monitoring and regulating public behaviors, mediated by the authoritarian governments and global corporations. The role culture plays in this transformation is important to note. It is no longer about cultivating and sustaining local ways of life, not even about creative industries as local economic strategies. Culture is made part of a mechanism for building the a new cybernetic environment for a new Asian modernity. Through the format of the digitally inflected ‘creative city’, governments are not only able to re-create social hierarchies based on unequal access to the means of participation, but can also disguise a wider intent to control social behavior through the extention of surveillance and ‘nudging’ technologies to an unprecendented degree.



Notes 1. Thailand 4.0. 2. Much of the discussion from western media has viewed ‘Made in China 2025’ plan as fuelling new round of US-China Power Competition. Cf. 3. Makerspaces have been called different names from ‘fab labs’ to ‘hackerspaces’. Many makerspaces in China are modelled on ‘fab lab’—an initiative of MIT’s centre for bits and atoms, but most do not adhere to the specific rules and charters of a fab lab. 4. UNESCO 2005 Convention: convention.

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Rethinking Creative Cities?: UNESCO, Sustainability, and Making Urban Cultures Deborah Stevenson

Introduction The involvement of intergovernmental bodies in the cultural policy concerns of nation states is a vexed and multi-layered endeavour that is intended to occur in a way that supports the autonomy of the nation and its specific cultural agenda. At the same time, though, these bodies often also instigate policies and programmes focused directly on cities and thus, by design, bypass the nation. These city-focused cultural programmes frequently seek to connect cities around the world through their shared membership of a particular network or scheme, as well as also aiming to provide a framework for supporting local cultures. In this context, the initiatives of two intergovernmental bodies stand out as noteworthy—the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)—because both have pursued a range of cultural policies directly focused on the city, including endorsing

D. Stevenson (*) Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University, Parramatta, NSW, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 X. Gu et al. (eds.), Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia,




schemes that foster place-making and -marketing, and local cultural industries development. Both have also established programmes concerned with designating ‘cultural capitals’ or ‘creative cities’ (Stevenson 2017); however, while the focus and operation of the EU Capital of Culture scheme is well documented and much studied (see for instance, Campbell and O’Brien 2020), there has been considerably less attention paid to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN). This lack of attention is, in part, because the initiative does not have a high profile in the global North in spite of the number of member cities from these nations, but it is also because membership comes with little or, indeed, no resources from UNESCO. That said, the operation of the UCCN warrants investigation if only because (at the time of writing in late 2019) it has a not-­insubstantial membership of 246 cities drawn from in excess of 70 countries and these numbers are set to increase. In addition, the links between the UCCN and the broader agenda of UNESCO are under-investigated including its connection with the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (and its guiding principles) which is pertinent because the UCCN was established in the context of the development of the Convention and both are connected organisationally within the UNESCO Secretariat. Important too, are the ways in which the UCCN is being aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) (the UN’s manifesto to ‘end poverty’ and ‘protect the planet’), which are now being positioned as anchor points for all UNESCO programmes, including its cities networks. As the first step in exploring some of these issues, this chapter is primarily concerned with the ways in which the SDGs are being interpreted by, and positioned to shape the activities of, the UCCN and its member cities. The task here is a different one from that usually discussed with respect to the SDGs, because rather than seeking to find a place for culture within sustainable development, sustainable development is being grafted onto a cultural agenda. From an analysis of recent statements and initiatives of UNESCO and the UCCN, the chapter suggests that the decision directly to affiliate the UCCN with the SDGs is posing a range of challenges, not least of which is to determine what sustainability means to a network of cities which although officially concerned with cooperation, implicitly encourages inter-city competition and was formed to support and showcase local creativity and cultural economies. And for cities in many developing countries, including those in Asia, there are added challenges because the culture and sustainability agenda is often being imposed in the



context of extreme poverty, rapid urbanisation, substantial industrialisation, and the privileging of economic growth by governments. Indeed, the implementation of the UCCN SDG directive coincides with UN warnings in 2019 that the Asia-Pacific region is at risk of not meeting any of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals ( story/2019/07/1042741). At stake too, is that with the shifting priorities of UNESCO, the UCCN is becoming increasingly entangled in a tension between urban sustainability and cultural development which is frequently and not least in Asia, being framed in terms of the creative industries. First, though, to a brief consideration of what it means when UNESCO, through its various programmes, bypasses the nation to engage directly with the city.

UNESCO and its Cities Although a body comprising, and supported by, member nations, UNESCO has, at different times, initiated schemes focused directly or indirectly on cities rather than nation states; examples are its World Heritage Cities Programme which was sanctioned in 2005, and the Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape adopted in 2011. According to a statement on the website of the UNESCO International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities (ICCAR), cities are often selected by UNESCO as the specific objects of concern because they are ‘the privileged space to link upstream and downstream actions’ (UNESCO  International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities 2011). The statement goes on to say, that ‘The role of city authorities as policy-makers at the local level, is … the key to create dynamic synergies.’ In spite of such sentiments, the targeting of cities is clearly in tension with the national remit of UNESCO. There are often explicit expectations that initiatives at the city level will speak in some way to national cultural policies, and the involvement of particular cities in UNESCO initiatives normally requires the support of the relevant UNESCO National Commission. Tensions with the national agenda also have the potential to limit what can be achieved locally and through which channels of influence. Nancy Duxbury and M.  Sharon Jeannotte (2013: 364–365) suggest that UNESCO’s city-focused programmes can broadly be organised into three strategic categories. The first is concerned with ‘knowledge-sharing’ and involves network member cities exchanging information on practices and processes associated with particular issues. In such schemes, UNESCO



provides the framework for city-to-city exchanges, but the onus is on member municipalities to initiate cooperation with other cities and to make the network ‘work’. The second strategic category identified is concerned with ‘city banding/promotion’, which, although often also having some information-sharing dimensions, is largely a mechanism for local authorities to badge their city for promotional purposes principally to attract tourists. Again, historically UNESCO has not been overly pro-­ active in the operation of these promotional-focused networks leaving it to member cities to make productive connections. In many respects, though, the attractiveness of being a member of these networks lies not so much in any potential city-to-city connections, but in being associated with UNESCO because UNESCO itself is a brand and a source of legitimacy, so member cities stand to gain kudos from being part of one of its networks. The last category of cities network identified by Duxbury and Jeannotte are those ‘providing technical assistance and advice’, particularly with respect to training and capacity-building in  local governance. This emphasis echoes the objectives of other UNESCO programmes including its Expert Facility, which are focused on capacity-building, predominantly in the nations of the global South. And although not part of its rationale initially, the Creative Cities Network now also has capacity building as part of its remit which it operationalises through twinning a member city with an aspiring one. The chief concern is for cities of the North to assist those of the South; for instance, in an effort to increase the number of member cities from Africa and the Arab States, the UCCN has established a mechanism for aspiring member cities to cooperate with a current member in the preparation of their applications. Should the mentored city’s application be successful, this association can continue through to the implementation of the new member’s action plan. The focus of this initiative is not on the cities of Asia (officially part of the ‘Asia and the Pacific’ region) which seemingly is not regarded as being under-represented in the Network. China, for instance, has 14 UCCN cities and its member municipalities and associations are active in funding many activities of the UCCN including publications and its website. Indeed, the role of China in supporting the UCCN is substantial and warrants detailed investigation in order to understand why and to probe the benefits—both national and local—perceived to flow from this association. The UCCN might be promoting information sharing and mentoring but a priority since it was established in 2004, has been city promotion and branding. For instance, the theme of the first global conference of



member cities, held in 2008 in Santa Fe, was cultural and creative tourism, which was regarded as an emerging sector that would foster social and economic development. That said, the rationale for the establishment, and ongoing operation of, the UCCN is actually quite contradictory with different cities seeking to gain different outcomes from membership sometimes at odds with the agenda of UNESCO.  And while some cities are keen explicitly to use the UNESCO brand in their city marketing and reimaging, others are not. Such contradictions are being played out in contemporary attempts to refocus the Network’s agenda onto sustainability, but the contradictions have been engrained in the UCCN from the outset and so it is necessary to trace some key tensions before considering the challenges posed by the recent focus on sustainability.

Networking ‘Creative’ Cities Foreshadowing his keynote address to the 2016 meeting of the UCCN in the Swedish city of Östersund, prominent cultural consultant Charles Landry reportedly said that not only was being a member of the UCCN a catalyst for cities to make the most of their cultural resources and assets, but that creativity itself was a ‘source and force for development’ (http:// Similarly, long time UNESCO official Mauro Rosi (2014: 207) writing in the academic journal City, Culture and Society, claims that the UCCN is underpinned by the ‘assumption that culture should be a strong component of effective development strategies.’ Whether the objective is to support cultural development per se either by inserting culture into development or using it as the motor for development is a moot point. Development, of course, is itself a complex notion both theoretically and as the object of policy and, in the context of the UCCN it has competing resonances being understood at the shifting intersections of culture, economy, the urban, and the social as well as the geo-politics of the global North and South. Such entanglements are even more vexed when one considers that creativity and creative industries agenda are often positioned as proxies for culture as well as tools for achieving local development and supporting local cultures (De Beukelaer 2015). Indeed, the 2019 version of the UCCN mission statement privileges urban development, sustainability and the cultural industries, over cultural development, which is not even mentioned.



Rather than being a single network, of course, the UCCN is actually a ‘network of networks’ being comprised of seven thematic groupings: Literature; Film; Music; Crafts and Folk Art; Design; Gastronomy; and Media Arts. The rationale for focusing on these particular themes is not clear and a city can only be a member of one. Each sub-Network has its own agenda, trajectory, and level of sophistication and, irrespective of the mission of the UCCN, cities have, over time, approached and mobilised their membership in different ways. Some, including many Asian cities, view it as a key element of their tourism and reimaging strategies and important markers of cultural status; for others though, membership is somewhat subterranean with there often being no overt physical markers of membership, and not even local residents are aware of it. In addition, although there is a clear expectation on the part of UNESCO that it is municipalities that are Network members, and meetings of mayors are held regularly, even this expectation is problematic. For instance, the UCCN status of the Australian city of Sydney, was initiated and continues to be managed not by the City of Sydney but by Create NSW, the State government’s arts policy and funding body. The UCCN’s position within the agenda of UNESCO is similarly ill-defined and where the rub between the national remit of UNESCO and the cities of the UCCN is pronounced. Indeed, cities from nations that are unfinancial members of UNESCO continue to be members of the UCCN, with the most high-profile current example being the United States which withdrew its support for UNESCO in 2018 without affecting the UCCN status of its nine member cities. So, in order to be eligible for UCCN membership a city must be from a UNESCO member or associate member nation, but there is either no interest in removing cities from the Network if this status changes, or no mechanism for doing so. Although the UCCN was established in the context of the preparation of the 2005 Convention, and notwithstanding Andy Pratt’s (2011) suggestion that the UCCN was to some extent an attempt to ‘operationalise’ the principles of the Convention, its aims initially were very different. For instance, the Explanatory Note to the agenda of the UNESCO Board meeting which sanctioned the establishment of the UCCN states that: An international network of Creative Cities would enable its members to share knowledge and experience, to promote best practices and to strengthen



their cultural industries, creating new investment and employment opportunities and developing cultural tourism. (UNESCO Executive Board 2004a)

So, the UCCN was set up to be a vehicle for local cultural industries development, an aim which was reinforced by the subsequent decision of the Executive Board (UNESCO Executive Board 2004b) to place the fledgling Network within the framework of the UNESCO Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity, which was a platform established to ‘create partnerships between private, public and civil society actors in order to strengthen cultural industries in developing countries and promote the diversity of cultural expressions’ (UNESCO Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity 2002). As a consequence, therefore, although it may be possible to discern cultural development as a theme within the UCCN, this theme from the outset was framed in terms of the development of the cultural industries and the creative economy. The link to the global South is also important here given it was some time before cities from the South joined the UCCN in any numbers. Masayuki Sasaki (2013: 203) claims that an aim of the UCCN was to position UNESCO’s ‘culture and development’ agenda as a multifaceted response to the standardisation of culture that was an outcome of globalisation. This standardisation included a ‘cultural industries’ approach to urban cultural policy and local cultural development that underpins the increasingly hegemonic and pervasive notion of the ‘creative city’; a concept that is formulaic, focused on city branding and place marketing, and often developed with little reference to local cultures and identities (Stevenson 2017). Similarly, in Pratt’s (2011: 123) assessment: Contrary to the one size fits all mentality of the creative city ‘manual’ (the normative place marketing model) the UNESCO network is focused on local partnership building and the notion of examining shared experiences and challenges across cities.

Thus, for Pratt, the UCCN is cooperative and based on exchanges and collaborations that are grounded in the priorities and cultures of member cities. In this respect, it is simultaneously local and global. This is an important point with respect to sustainability because it highlights the limitations of ‘one-size-fits-all’ approaches and suggests individual cities should be able to determine what sustainability means in their local



context. It also calls into question the imposition of a top down agenda on a scheme that is decentred. When applying for UCCN membership aspirant cities must demonstrate how they will ‘plac[e] creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans.’ In addition, they must spell out the contribution they will make to achieving ‘inclusive sustainable development.’ Duxbury and Jeannotte (2013) suggest that the establishment of the Cities for Sustainable Development and Dialogue programme in 2010 was a key moment which signalled a ‘reorientation’ of the UCCN ‘to maximize the contribution of member cities as active partners in achieving expected results’ (UNESCO 2012: 135). The intention was to ensure that the UCCN and its member cities were contributing to a ‘holistic, interdisciplinary and intersectoral approach’ to sustainable urban development (UNESCO 2011: 153). Or, as explained on the UCCN website, UNESCO assumes the role of enabler encouraging and facilitating ‘joint development partnerships in line with UNESCO’s global priorities of ‘culture and development’ and ‘sustainable development’.’ Although sustainability has been as aspect of the operation of the UCCN for a number of years and has always been a concern of the 2005 Convention (De Beukelaer and Freitas 2015), this focus has been honed in recent years with the decision by the UCCN Secretariat to align the Network directly with the UN’s Sustainable Development goals as detailed in 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (United Nations 2015) and the New Urban Agenda (United Nations 2016). This new focus brings expectations that cities will shape their programmes to ensure the UCCN is, to use Landry words, a ‘source’ and ‘force’ for sustainable development.

Sustaining Sustainability Flagging a significant shift in the objectives and mission of the UCCN, the agenda of its 2017 General Assembly states that a ‘major challenge […] will be to work together to achieve the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations.’ Subsequent conferences have further reinforced this aim (and underscored the ‘challenge’) with the 2019 meeting undertaking to ‘[build] on the impact of culture, creativity, cooperation and innovation to foster sustainable cities and communities…’ (UCCN 2019). Notably, this meeting recommended:



…the development of a long-term strategy for the governance and the sustainability of the UCCN, focused on demonstrating and measuring impact and achievements for sustainable development at the local, national and international levels in the spirit of the Agenda 2030. (UCCN 2019)

What is also interesting about this recommendation is the implicit linking of the future of the UCCN with the task of determining and implementing robust ways of measuring and fostering sustainability. Sustainable development is now prominent in the UCCN application and reporting processes as well as the broader discursive framework within which the UCCN operates, as illustrated by the following passage from the UCCN website: As laboratories of ideas and innovative practices, the UNESCO Creative Cities bring a tangible contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through innovative thinking and action. Through their commitment, cities are championing sustainable development actions that directly benefit communities at urban level. ( events/unesco-designates-66-new-creative-cities)

In what is essentially a rewriting of the programme’s history, it is often claimed or implied in contemporary documentation that the UCCN has been concerned with sustainability from the beginning. A case in point here is the statement made in Voices of the City: UNESCO Creative Cities Moving Towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (the first publication from the UCCN LAB: 2030 initiative explicitly set up in response to the SDGs) that ‘Since 2004, the UNESCO Creative Cities Programme and Network have established themselves as an innovation laboratory for sustainable development’ (UCCN LAB: 2030, 2019: 18). If the UCCN has always been concerned with sustainability, then what has been sustained to date are the cultural/creative industries rather than development as now imagined through the goals of the 2030 Agenda. The 2030 Agenda identifies seventeen sustainable development goals ‘to transform our world’, which were adopted by UN member countries to ‘end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.’ The goals are all high-level aspirations and include: ‘Quality Education’; ‘Zero Hunger’; ‘Climate Action’; and ‘Gender Equity’ and within each goal is a series of more focused targets. Bearing in mind that neither culture nor cultural development appear in the SDGs, it is nevertheless possible to see



a number of the goals intersecting in some way with the concerns (actual and potential) of the UCCN and different ones are referred to in various UCCN documentation. But it is SDG 11, ‘cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’, with its underpinning assumption that cities are critical ‘drivers of sustainable development’, that is the most obviously relevant to the UCCN and which has become something of a touchstone for the process of reorienting its agenda. And of the ten targets associated with SDG 11, Number 4—to ‘Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage’—is most often associated with the UCCN. Irrespective of these claims (such as those made in Voices of the City), placing SDG 11 and sustainability at the centre of the Network’s operation represents a major rethinking of its goals and raison d’etre. It has the potential to open up a focused discussion about the intersection of urban and cultural development and to consider what it means to be concerned simultaneously with creativity and sustainability. What is clear, however, is that the UCCN and its member cities are grappling with what this shift entails in practice, something that is confirmed by a brief consideration of recent key documents produced by UNESCO: a booklet entitled UNESCO Creative Cities Programme for Sustainable Development, which was released by the UCCN in 2018 (UNESCO 2018a); the Culture for the 2030 Agenda brochure, published by the UNESCO Culture Sector to showcase the ‘contribution of culture to sustainable development’ including with examples drawn from ‘the Creative Cities Network (UNESCO 2018b: Foreword); and the aforementioned Voices of the City, which explicitly aims to highlight ‘the diverse ways in which Creative Cities are thriving by embracing innovation and culture into their local policies to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’.1 The first test for the Culture Sector of UNESCO and specifically the UCCN has been to identify what is understood by sustainability and from there to probe the current and potential contribution of its programmes. It is fair to say that they still have a way to go before achieving a coherent understanding of sustainability, with the forewords to each of the publications mentioned above demonstrating the fluidity and imprecision of the understandings being mobilised. For instance, in his introduction to the UNESCO Creative Cities Programme for Sustainable Development the UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, Ernesto Ottone, says that the cultural and creative industries are regarded by ‘elected representatives and city policy-makers … as a strategic lever for innovation when it



comes to tackling contemporary urban issues, whether on an economic, social or environmental front’ (2018a: 9). He makes a similar point in his editorial to Voices of the City, although here he speaks specifically about the UCCN and its role in supporting the SDGs, claiming that it ‘work[s] to promote, demonstrate and reinforce the role of creativity as a catalyst for building more sustainable, resilient and inclusive cities’ (UCCN: LAB:2030, 2019). In Culture for the 2030 Agenda, the Director General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, says that the ‘scope’ of the ‘contribution’ that culture makes to sustainable development is ‘vast’ as ‘sustainable tourism, cultural and creative industries, and heritage-based urban revitalization stimulate local development and foster creativity’ (UNESCO 2018b: 1). So, in these framing statements sustainability is understood very broadly and its relationship with cities and culture is loosely defined. Not only is culture positioned as acting on cities in ways that contribute to their sustainability, but it supposedly also ‘stimulates citizenship and social innovation’ (UCCN: LAB:2030, 2019: 1) and is an ‘intrinsic part of the human experience’ (UNESCO 2018b: 1). At the same time (and underscoring the lack of an operational definition of sustainability), it is often culture, not cities and the environment, that apparently needs to be sustained—or as stated in the body of Culture for the 2030 Agenda, ‘Culture is both a means and an end to sustainable development’ (2018b: 6); While in a curious tautology, ‘culture’ is said to support ‘sustainable development’ by ‘foster[ing] creativity’ (UNESCO 2018b: 1). According to Voices of the City: Through their actions on the ground and the cooperative relations they forge, Creative Cities are resolutely committed to placing creativity at the heart of their territorial development. The diverse array of experiments conducted by the 180 member cities from 72 countries have revealed the multitude of ways in which creativity can permeate local action and contribute to the emergence of inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities.

Each of these booklets features descriptive accounts of exemplar projects. In the case of UNESCO Creative Cities Programme for Sustainable Development, descriptions of all UCCN member cities are included alongside accounts of what each identifies as their specific contribution. Many cities explicitly mention sustainability as one of their contributions to the Network, but many do not, although it is possible to interpret quite a few of the stated ambitions in terms of sustainability. A far greater number



point to sustainability in their city, with the cultural industries/economy, creative practice, and the contribution they make to the urban environment variously being highlighted. Some cities, such as Shanghai, even identify ‘supporting the sustainable development of the UCCN’ as an objective. What this whole-of-Network publication demonstrates is that it is being left to individual cities to determine how they understand sustainability and the ways in which they see it as being supported through their membership of the UCCN. What is also apparent is that there is a degree of retrofitting occurring across the Network, with sustainability often appearing in framing texts and passages but without any context or apparent connection with other elements of a city’s featured profile. Voices of the City, however, seeks directly to address the interface of sustainability and the UCCN. To this end, it is organised into six sections under headings including ‘Sustainable Growth and Entrepreneurship’ which unequivocally speaks to the theme of sustainability, although the coupling with ‘entrepreneurship’ is curious; sustainability is implicit in other section headings, including ‘Urban Regeneration’ and ‘Ecological Transition and Resilience’. Distributed across the publication are a total 24 exemplar initiatives drawn from UCCN member cities with five of these being from Asian member cities: Kobe, Japan; Changsha, China; Chengdu, China; Seoul, South Korea; and Bandung, Indonesia. The 24 examples showcased are rich, interesting and eclectic. There is a strong emphasis on showcasing cultural initiatives that have, or are regarded as having, contributed to local economic and social sustainability although the impact of the cultural sector on the urban environment is also a theme. For instance, Chengdu’s ‘EAT.CLEAN.CARE’ initiative involved a pilot programme whereby 4000 local restaurants replaced energy from coal with ‘clean fuel’. The urban effects identified in most cases, however, are those said to have resulted from the establishment of cultural hubs which often also involved the rehabilitation of former industrial spaces—familiar tropes of urban cultural policy and cultural planning (Stevenson 2017). Some of the case studies focus on sustaining the cultural sector through the transmission of knowledge or skills and there is also an emphasis on the contributions this sector makes to building a more ‘inclusive’ society. Examples here range from initiatives to achieve gender equity in the Australian film industry to the establishment of a craft centre for women in Rasht, Iran. There are events and activities focused on public space and urban mobility as well as air pollution and climate change. In other words, the examples are highly diverse and again speak to a variety of understandings of sustainability and its relevance to ‘creative cities.’ What is not



evident is whether or not the featured projects are actually direct outcomes of UCCN membership and city-to-city exchanges as would be expected, and on closer scrutiny it becomes evident that many, perhaps most, of them are not connected to the UCCN at all. While all the showcased projects are located in UCCN member cities, the relationship between the Network and UNESCO as the overarching legitimising body is tenuous at best and there is no requirement that the examples are the result of UCCN initiatives or in any way connected with UCCN membership. An example is the ‘Weather Station: Writing for Climate Change’ initiative (showcased in the ‘Ecological Transition and Resilience’ section) which is the case study for the Australian city of Melbourne, a UCCN City of Literature. Partnering with Melbourne on this project are four cities each of which has a different (or, indeed, in two cases, non-existent) connection to the UCCN.  The cities are: Dublin, Ireland which is a UCCN City of Literature and so aligned with the status of Melbourne; London, which is not a UCCN City of Literature or indeed even a member of a UCCN at all; Warsaw, which like London is not a UCCN city let alone a City of Literature; and finally, Berlin which is a UCCN member city but of Design not Literature. And the relationship to the UCCN fractures even further when one considers that this global project is actually supported by the European Union, not UNESCO or the UCCN. The point of featuring an example such as this in a publication explicitly intended to showcase the UCCN and the ways in which its networks and member cities support the SDGs begs explanation. But it is not an isolated example.

Conclusion The decision by the UCCN Secretariat to affiliate with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals poses many challenges for the Network and its member cities not least of which is determining what sustainability can, and should, mean to a network of cities formed to support and showcase creativity and the creative industries, and to attract tourists. It is not obvious if the aim is to develop projects, policies and programmes that position culture and creativity at the centre of sustainable urban development or whether the intention is to nurture, sustain and showcase urban cultures and local creative industries. Missing too is a clear statement of what the focus is and why. A key reason for this absence is that the UCCN is predominantly a network of goodwill and influence; it does not have the resources to fund or directly support projects. So, what it does is



‘highlight’ or ‘showcase’ initiatives that have their roots (funding and imaginative) elsewhere and often only have a tangential connection with the UCCN. In the absence of any strategic force, the adoption of the language of sustainability may be tokenistic at best and bordering on incoherent at worst. Many Asian cities have been keen to embrace UCCN membership and for many of these cities, it is the potential for tourism and the development of the creative industries that appears to be attractive. The role of China in supporting the UCCN is complex and suggests the UCCN may be also be an element of soft diplomacy which is an aspect of the interface of the local, the national and the global that warrants scrutiny. The challenges of sustainability in all its guises are real and immediate, and it is evident that the responses of cities will need to be nuanced and calibrated to local circumstances and, ideally, the UCCN has a role to play by setting the agenda and providing an effective framework. Addressing the SDGs is thus an important aim and, if approached strategically, also has the potential to anchor the UCCN more securely into the mission  of UNESCO, including the operation of the 2005 Convention; indeed, it is likely this outcome is intended. But first, there must be a clear-eyed assessment of the purpose, operation, and future of the UCCN, including what it realistically can achieve given the diverse priorities of member cities and their complex political, social and physical spaces. Also critical is to ensure the sustainability and resilience of the UCCN itself, which will require strong leadership from UNESCO to take control of the Network and its agenda and to make it relevant to cities around the world and their futures.

Note 1. The publication of each of these documents was financed by organisations from the Peoples Republic of China. The first received funds from the Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission, the International Center for Creativity and Sustainable Development in Beijing, and the Beijing Industrial Design Center; funding for the second came from the Municipality of Nanjing, while the third was supported by the Yong Xin Hua Yun Cultural Industry Investment Group in Beijing. https://en.



References Campbell, Peter, and Dave O’Brien. 2020. ‘The European Capital of Culture’ and the Primacy of Cultural Infrastructure in Post-Industrial Urbanism. In The Routledge Companion to Urban Media and Communication, ed. Zlatan Krajina and Deborah Stevenson, 274–282. New York and London: Routledge. De Beukelaer, Christiaan. 2015. Developing Cultural Industries: Learning from the Palimpsest of Practice. Amsterdam: European Cultural Foundation. De Beukelaer, Christiaan, and Raquel Freitas. 2015. Culture and Sustainable Development: Beyond the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. In Globalization, Culture, and Development, ed. Christiaan De Beukelaer, Miikka Pyykkönen, and J.P. Singh, 203–221. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Duxbury, Nancy, and M.  Sharon Jeannotte. 2013. Global Cultural Governance Policy. In The Ashgate Research Companion to Planning and Culture, ed. Greg Young and Deborah Stevenson, 361–376. Farnham, UK & Burlington, VA: Ashgate. Pratt, Andy. 2011. The Cultural Contradictions of the Creative City. City, Culture and Society 2: 123–130. Rosi, Mauro. 2014. Branding or Sharing?: The Dialectics of Labeling and Cooperation in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. City, Culture and Society 5 (2): 107–110. Sasaki, Masayuki. 2013. Case Study Window—Cultural Cluster, Capital and Cityscape: The Cultural Economy of Japanese Creative Cities. In The Ashgate Reserch Companion to Planning and Culture, ed. Greg Young and Deborah Stevenson, 203–217. Farnham, UK and Burlington, VA: Ashgate. Stevenson, Deborah. 2017. Cities of Culture: A Global Perspective. New York and London: Routledge. UNESCO. 2004a. Networks of Creative Cities within the Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity. ———. 2004b. Decisions Adopted by the Executive Board at its 170th Session, Paris, 28 September–14th October 2004. ark:/48223/pf0000137349?posInSet=7&quer yId=58e2db1b-f8c54bbb-91c6-eaa1c3563855. ———. 2011. 36 C/5 Draft Resolutions 2012-2013 Volume 1. http://ulis2. ———. 2012. 36 C/5 Approved Programme and Budget 2012-2013. https:// de0f5e-­b1a1-­4ad4-ba6d-071ebd5de800. ———. 2015. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Sustainable%20Development%20web.pdf.



———. 2018a. UNESCO Creative Cities Programme for Sustainable Development. ———. 2018b. Culture for the 2030 Agenda. ark:/48223/pf0000264687. ———. 2019. Voices of the City UNESCO Creative Cities Moving Towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. sites/creative-cities/files/16_pages_villes_creatives_uk_bd.pdf. UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN). 2019a. Conclusion of the XIIIth Annual Conference of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, 14 June 2019. conclusions_eng.pdf. ———. 2019b. Mission Statement. creative-cities/files/uccn_mission_statement_rev_nov_2017.pdf. UNESCO Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity. 2002. Fact Sheet: Fostering partnerships in the cultural industries for development. new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/CLT/pdf/agdc_factsheet_en.pdf. UNESCO International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities—ICCAR. 2011. fight-against-discrimination/coalition-of-cities/. United Nations. 2016. New Urban Agenda. uploads/NUA-English.pdf.


Resisting Creative Cities


‘Crisis of Values’ in Rhetorical Architecture: Creative Cities Discourse and the Urban Landscapes of the Philippines Janine Patricia Santos

Introduction The Creative Cities discourse in the Philippines was formalized through the ASEAN Creative Cities Forum and Exhibition (ACCFE) that was spearheaded by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Design Center of the Philippines (DCP) in 2017 (DCP 2017; DTI 2017). The ACCFE stood as a watershed in positioning creativity as a formidable resource for ‘sustainable urban development’ (UCCN 2017/2004) and has introduced the concept of Creative Cities as a ‘mobilizing discourse’ (Peck 2005: 765) with a prescriptive urban formula whose failures can only be blamed on the lack of political will and the unwillingness of the locals and the cultural stakeholders to cooperate. While it heralded best practices in pursuit of adopting the creative economy as ‘fast policy’ tout court (De Beukelaer and O’Connor 2017; Peck 2005) the conference has left in the shadows the dangers of fast policy adoption, which includes

J. P. Santos (*) Department of Anthropology, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium © The Author(s) 2020 X. Gu et al. (eds.), Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia,




categorical confusions of what actually constitutes cultural and creative industries in the Global South. By adopting policy discourse that is arguably based on Euro-American models through ‘Xerox’ policymaking (Pratt 2009: 10), the ACCFE begets the common criticisms plaguing policy translations in oft unintended contextual realities: it builds a vision of the city through ‘rhetorical architecture’ (De Boeck 2011: 280) that draws its power through language and spectacle, but struggles to hold ground in terms of its performativity. The language and spectacle of this rhetorical architecture are often based on normative framings of a city built by and for human creativity, a human capacity that is also the ‘defining feature of [its] economic life’ (Florida 2002: 21). Owing to Richard Florida’s (2002) concept of the ‘creative class’, creative cities are seen to be economically revitalized by this class of talented creatives through their mix of hedonistic and responsible lifestyles. This paper is based on an ethnographic work conducted in the Philippines from March 2016 to May 2017 on the various initiatives of the cultural and creative sector, and employed participant observation and semi-structured interviews with cultural workers, artists, cultural educators and government workers. The cultural and creative initiatives that were part of this research included a spectrum of initiatives from the top-­ down governmental programs by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Department of Education (DepEd), to the bottom-up grassroots initiatives of those operating in non-formal, informal and alternative spaces such as the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP), the Lopez Museum, the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group, and Harana ng Puso (Seranade of the Heart). By focusing on these cultural and creative initiatives, this paper seeks to problematize the Creative Cities discourse by looking at local understandings of the creative economy, cultural valuations and creative cities in the Philippines. Additionally, this paper employs close reading of policies, newspaper articles and development plans of the Philippines’ cultural and creative sector, and argues that an oversight on the material conditions by which these policy discourses as ‘rhetorical architectures’ should have been built upon remains at the core of its failures. Through participant observation of forums and initiatives, interviews and daily interactions with the actors and stakeholders of the cultural and creative sector, this paper aims to provide a more nuanced picture of creativity and culture in the city by foregrounding the many ways in which a city is constructed through utopian policy discourses and



through the minds and lived experiences of the cultural and creative workers navigating it. This paper first gives an overview of the Creative Cities discourse in the Philippines, followed by an empirical illustration of its adoption through the case of Baguio City. It then develops this illustration through the previously enacted ‘cultural tourism’ strategy and the creative economy’s ‘crisis of values’ in order to foreground the parallelisms and contradictions between discourse and local understandings of Creative Cities and the creative economy. Subsequently, this paper tackles a broader evaluation of the performativity of the creative economy in the face of urban poverty from the perspective of the local artists who have been negotiating the discourse. This paper concludes with the call to provincialize global urbanisms by looking at vernacular enunciations in order to provide for more inclusive and context-specific urban development strategies in the Global South. As urban theory and urban policies are in need of expansion in terms of theorising and reconfiguring Euro-American policy derivatives, grounded anthropological approaches of ‘theorizing from the South’ (Comaroff and Comaroff 2015) has its merits in deconstructing hegemonic discourses that do more harm than good to those intending to benefit from adopted policies. Often, the limiting factors of Euro-American policy frameworks lie on its tendency to overlook context-specific material conditions and local practices, including unstable sociopolitical climates and wider global systems that have long been put in place. By considering the different influences and sense-making of the people in cities such as Manila and Baguio, exploring the ontologies of these concepts from the point of view of its artist, cultural and creative workers can provide for a distinct way of capturing how concepts have influenced and are influenced by everyday practices (Hall 1992); and thus contribute to more apt reconstructions in response to the maladoptions of creative industry policies in contexts outside of its configurations.

Creative Cities Discourse in the Philippines The Creative Cities discourse has been gaining much appeal in the Global South and in ASEAN countries following the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) tropes of job-creation and contribution to economic growth (De Beukelaer and O’Connor 2017; Pratt 2009; Hartley 2005; Hall 2000), which is largely influenced by the UK model for CCIs. However, much can also be said about the intersection of urban planning, policy and



governance and the undeniable Euro-American influence on urban development strategies in the Global South. While cities in the Global South are shaped and re-shaped as platforms for engaging with non-local worlds, urban development strategies are being imposed upon cities with seemingly incompatible geographies as a form of ‘urbanization for engagement’ (Simone 2001). Cities in the Philippines are no exception, as can be seen in other urban development strategies that are set in place aside from the Creative Cities, such as: the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Smarter Cities, which makes use of ICT and geospatial analysis for smarter urban planning and land use (Melchor 2013); the Department of Information and Communication Technology’s (DICT) Digital Cities which promotes a city’s capacity to manage business investment in the Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) sector through talent and infrastructure development (DICT 2020); the Next Wave Cities which aims to develop secondary cities as the next hubs for the Information Technology-Business Process Outsourcing investment (ABS-CBN 2016); and the New Clark City—the first green smart city in the country to house 1.2 M inhabitants, and is deemed the legacy project of the Duterte administration (Canivel 2019). Yet, as is often the teleological course of development in countries such as the Philippines wont to ‘catch-up’ with the West (Comaroff and Comaroff 2015; Hall 1992), investment-oriented urban development strategies run the risk of side-stepping major issues such as urban poverty, inequality, displacement and overpopulation, leading to the question ‘development for whom?’ at the face of rapid displacement in the name of city branding. The ACCFE gave a telling sign, as one panelist advised the audience that it is better to ‘not ask for permission now but to ask for forgiveness later’ in fast-tracking the creation of UNESCO dossiers and in adopting neoliberal mechanisms for propagating the creative economy. In the Philippines, the DTI and the DCP spearhead the promotion of the creative economy and the implementation of its strategies. With DTI taking the lead, the development of CCI policies are more in line with industrial policies, heeding calls to shift from ‘natural resources to idea resources’ by situating people, place and ideas at the centre of creative policymaking. During the ACCFE, panelists from Bandung and Pekalongan shared how their strategies of mobilizing the youth and early mapping of creative ecosystems have put pressure on the national government to input creativity and design on policymaking, taking matters into their own hands and using batik-making—the main source of income for



the majority of their population—to their advantage. Prominent UK personalities such as John Howkins served as references for creative industries policy recommendations, one of which is the Creative Industry Policy Brief no. 10 released by the non-profit think-tank group Creative Economy Council of the Philippines. The policy brief provides baseline research on the creative economy and creative ecosystems in the Philippines and outlines the Creative Economy Roadmap to 2030 (Mercado and Tolentino 2018). During the ACCFE, John Howkins was lauded for spreading the ‘gospel of creative economy and creative ecology’ and for urging cities to issue a ‘High Level Declaration that Creativity is a National Resource for Everyone’ (Mercado 2017). The other ACCFE panelists followed his lead and echoed his suggestions of ‘finding the narrative’ that best represents the city for competitive advantage. Liverpool and Dundee were marked as prime examples for culture-led urban regeneration as cities that placed creativity as the focal point for innovation-driven competition and upscaling. This promotion of creativity as national resource mainly resorts to econometrics, as one of the ACCFE panellist mentioned, ‘everything you can quantify in numbers, you should do to get government support.’ However, this also begets the paradox often seen in the promotion of the creative economy discourse: the paradox of attracting subsidy by showing yields or subsidizing industries that are supposedly already sustainable. But what does it all mean to find the narrative of the city for the sake of gaining the Creative City branding? Hegemonic narratives often fall prey to matters of exclusivity, as policy utopias have the tendency to overlook outliers that might not feed positively on the spectacle. Discourses as rhetorical architecture rely on the oversimplification of reality by homogenously representing differentiations (Hall 1992), more so in service of translating phenomenon such as cultural production into quantifiable categories. And as the creators of discourse also hold the power to make true its architectured language (Foucault 1981), what looks good on paper and on the grandiose staging of it might impose a certain reality upon the smaller players kept out of this elite circle. But whether this authoritative discourse is sustainable is still a matter of longue durée critique, as what lies at the core of this tension between discourse and reality, between the elite and the people on ground, are the material conditions that dictate its performativity (Asad 1979). One case to illustrate this is Baguio City, the first Creative City in the Philippines whose inclusion to the UCCN serves



as good fodder for testing how far this celebrated discourse can hold ground.

Baguio as Creative City Baguio city is the first Creative City to be designated City of Crafts and Folk Art in 2017. According to Baguio City’s official website, what they are valorizing as a Creative City are: The many ‘verticals of creativity’; such as the wood-carving traditions among the Ifugaos, the backloom weaving practices of women throughout the Cordillera and Northern Luzon, the silver craft and basket-weaving, and the art of tattooing…. (Baguio Creative Hub 2019)

The city as  a multi-cultural melting pot dates back to the American colonization, when the Philippine Commission declared a resolution in the early 1900s to officially name Baguio the summer capital and the second chartered city after Manila. It has since then attracted filmmakers and visual artists to seek refuge in its highlands teeming with ‘creative energies’, as the rich Cordillera culture and the closeness to nature have been said to offer inspiration to local artists. Reconstructed artist villages like Tam-awan (vantage point) hold artist residencies and often host art exhibitions and workshops to showcase Cordillera art and artists. The branding of Baguio as the Philippine’s first Creative City was welcomed by majority of the Filipino community, with local news outlets even heralding the feat monumental as the Philippines now finds itself a member of such an ‘exclusive club’ (ABS-CBN, 2017; Cabreza 2017; Cimatu 2017). However, Baguio remains plagued with issues of exponential rates of environmental decline, stemming from an aggressively neoliberal and unsustainable urban planning that prioritizes private developers and revenue generation for the city council (Morley 2018). For instance, the annual weeklong arts festival EntaCool (a neologism made by combining the indigenous word entaku [let’s go] and the reference to the city’s ‘cool’ weather) garnered much critique from local artists, with one of the organizers articulating the sordid state of what he terms as ‘cultural appropriation’ engendered by the Creative City status, We are a community of artists elevated into ‘Creative City’ status. That title will hold no meaning if the pride of becoming one will again be corrupted



by misplaced cultural education, an overzealous economic agenda and the bureaucrat’s obsession with visitor statistics. (Catajan 2018)

This critique on the Creative City status was in response to an incident when the UNESCO Secretary General was gifted with a tissue holder shaped in the form of a bulul—a sacred ancestral sculpture of the Cordillera rice god. The act drew flak from the locals as something that signified the loss of the bulul’s ‘cultural value’ in exchange for the banality of its being a functional commodity. The incident somewhat alludes to the ‘crisis of values’ (O’Connor 2016; Banks 2014) prevalent in a neoliberalized creative economy, wherein cultural values are often co-opted by their exchange value and relegated to mere econometrics as the creative economy narrows its focus solely towards its potential economic contribution. This antagonism between cultural values and economic values lies at the heart of the creative industries debate and informs much of the criticism of the Creative Cities discourse. As to how this crisis of values is seen by the cultural workers, cultural educators and artists in the Philippines will be further explored in the next section.

Creative Cities and the Crisis of Values In developmentalism, a crisis can be considered a more formidable teacher than theory (Nederveen Pieterse 2010). And in the creative economy’s ‘crisis of values’ (O’Connor 2016; Banks 2014), culture—in its seeming elusiveness in pinpointing its intrinsic value to be pitted against an economic value—lost its ability to articulate its function and is simply relegated to econometrics. This poses a much greater threat to the cultural value of the cultural product if the ‘be efficient or disappear’ rationale of economic instrumentalism is to be followed (O’Connor 2016). Early traces of cultural instrumentalization akin to what the Creative Cities discourse has brought to Baguio can be seen in what cultural workers in the Philippines refer to as ‘cultural tourism’. While cultural tourism remains a complex development strategy whose analysis merits a separate paper entirely, it is worth mentioning how cultural tourism serves as an example for the cultural workers in foreshadowing the potential trajectory of the Creative Cities branding and the crisis of values it might engender. Cultural tourism was a strategy initially adopted by the Department of Tourism (DOT) under the Philippine National Tourism Development Plan 2011–2016, and is based on destination branding wherein regional



products and services serve as the focal point for marketing tourist destinations (Alejandria-Gonzales 2016). At present, a roadmap is being drafted for cultural tourism as one of the tourism products under National Tourism Development Plan 2016–2022 (DOT 2020; Talavera 2019). While cultural tourism banks on highlighting the unique ‘traditions’ of a given place, it is also contingent to tourist demands and has the tendency to vastly reproduce cultural products and services that have market value at the expense of its ‘authenticity’. In this light, both the Creative Cities strategy and cultural tourism valorize the narrative of the city for competitive advantage by assetizing culture and creativity as resources that have the potential to salvage economic decline through future income streams (Birch 2017), at the expense of their cultural use values tied to the traditions of the local communities. Cultural tourism is seen as a strategy that has the tendency to ‘dilute’ culture in order to salvage the Philippines’ declining tourism industry. As one visual artist from the Concerned Artists of the Philippines shares, DOT is diluting culture so they can market places as tourist destinations by creating new ‘traditions’ that would highlight the festivities of that place. Really just for tourism, not deeply rooted in their traditions. It all started when they noticed that the tourism industry in the Philippines is going down. Since they can no longer market the natural resources like they used to … they needed tradition. (visual artist, personal communication, April 2, 2016)

This is echoed by the other respondents in noting how some festivities reflect a mythicized version of reality, a staging or performance of culture that renders their practices as mere fabricated spectacle. For instance, the Pahiyas (Jewels), a festival that was once a religious ritual honouring bountiful harvest in the name of St. Isidore the Laborer, has been secularized as a yearly tourist attraction for the people of Lucban and has been serving as the main source of revenue for the municipality since the 1970s (Antolihao 2014). Given the occurrence of climate change and the rising costs of seeds, machines and fertilizers, the festival deviates farther from the reality of the farmers who have not been experiencing bountiful harvest as of late. What was once a religious ritual is now simply presented as an income-generating activity involving various stakeholders such as the municipality, the Catholic Church and the big sponsorship companies that, while having local economic spill-overs, undermines small-scale



entrepreneurs and the farmers who were supposedly at the centre of the festivity. For the respondents, cultural tourism, if not explicitly part of the creative economy agenda, bears semblance to it. Cultural tourism similarly concerns itself with local versions of culture-led urban regeneration that includes revitalizing artisan industries, promoting the establishment of creative hubs, and restoring cultural landmarks to build a better image of a given city or region. Another example is the proposed regeneration of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in Manila, which is set to undergo image-(re)branding in order to become one of the core creative hubs of the city, akin to the privately developed Bonifacio Global Arts Center. But as a public institution, CCP’s regeneration was said to rely on public-private partnership, which can have adverse effects on its civic responsibility. Consequently, the rehabilitation of the CCP under private investors masks underlying issues of urban poverty and displacement in the name of gentrification or ‘cleaning up the city’. An example given by a visual artist who works with CCP as one of its emerging talents was the dispersal of sidewalk vendors and motorcycle drivers in the surrounding areas of the institution. Sidewalk vendors and motorcycle drivers lining up the streets surrounding CCP provide cheap meals and transport to workers, and these informal sector activities are the main source of livelihood for these small players. But instead of the private developers negotiating with these small-income earners, they were dispersed without proper compensation, as is often the case with development projects that are being implemented in urban centres of the country. As their presence is symptomatic of deeply-rooted urban issues in the Philippines, this employed strategy of displacement implemented by the private developers in CCP’s rebranding appears as a band-aid solution that merely sweeps urban poverty under the rug. Yet another disconcerting issue in relation to this rebranding is the positioning of privatization as the optimal solution to the state’s lack of funding. For one political artist who has been championing the urban poor through his works, this eagerness to privatize state institutions begets questions on the role of the state in negotiating claims to urban rehabilitation: Cultural tourism is no different … you go on saying, ‘It helps to reduce spending because CCP has no money.’ But the real question is, where does the money go? You have high collection of taxes, but where does it go? … You increase taxes and yet you’re privatizing. So what is the purpose of the



government? You see, it’s deeply rooted. (Political artist, personal communication, March 13, 2016)

Cultural tourism and the Creative City branding are seen as an excuse to promote privatization amidst the withdrawal of state support. Echoing Jamie Peck’s (2005) critique on creative cities as a ‘creative-led urban development strategy’, the proclivity of creative city branding for neoliberal processes which turns arts and cultural resources as privatized commodities has short-sightedly relied on competitive and market-oriented metrics and modes of governance. Instead of focusing on long-term sustainable goals such as poverty alleviation, these band-aid solutions revolve around concrete, often co-terminus regeneration projects. And as urban poverty remains the main issue in Philippine cities, one has to question the performativity of the creative economy as a potential development strategy that is heavily reliant on a burgeoning middle class. Exemplifying the dependency of the performativity of discourse on the material conditions of countries from the Global South, the Philippines’s industries—creative and otherwise—remain contingent to substandard infrastructures that renders Euro-American influenced policies not quite fit for the realities of these spaces.

Urban Poverty and The Non-performativity of the Creative Economy According to one of the curators of the Lopez Museum, aside from having substandard production systems, the main hindrance to the flourishing of the creative economy is the weak implementation of intellectual property (IP): For the creative economy to work, we have to have a strong copyright system. But here in our country, the weight of the attribution is not that strong … We don’t equate originality with the idea of profit [emphasis added]. (Curator, personal communication, April 9, 2016)

As cultural values and practices do not easily translate to economic values and profitability, this remains a challenge for implementing a strategy that defines creative industries as those that generate and exploit intellectual property. If creative cities are reliant on the creative economy of a specific region, then weak IP implementation has the tendency to do more



harm than good not just to the economic aspect of development, but also to the practices of cultural workers, artists, educators and those involved in the cultural and creative sectors. Majority of the cultural and creative industries in the Philippines still operate under an informal economy, while established copyright institutions have profited at the expense of the artists they have employed. But the weightier issue that contributes to the ‘failure’ of the creative economy is its reliance on the creative, often middle class for both consumption and production, as cities such as Manila and Baguio still scramble to find these creatives who would contribute or benefit from the creative economy. In the Philippines, 44% of the urban population live in slums and informal settlements, with Manila having an estimated population of 4 M families living in shanty houses (The Borgen Project 2019; Habitat for Humanity 2019). While urban redevelopment positions cities as engines of economic growth that have the potential to rehabilitate the slums and augment living conditions, questions of inclusivity remain at large in this debate. Conventional approaches to addressing urban poverty, exclusion and precarity in Manila are said to have failed in comparison to other Asian cities in its peripheries (Steele, Avila, Miller, and Britan 2014). As the growth of the cultural and creative industries is also contingent on the economic development it tries to feed, those living outside of the middle-­ income bracket (a monthly household income of between PHP 19,040 [USD 365] and PHP 114,240 [USD 2191]) lack both leisure time and spending power to engage in the creative economy and be included in the creative city that is being built amidst their presence. ‘And yet, art persists’, remarks the Lopez museum curator as an addition to his comment on not equating art with profitability. For those who have been keen on propagating the cultural value of their object or practice, non-profitability is not a hindrance in upholding their existence. Cultural products, for cultural workers and artists who are not too keen on the economistic tropes of the creative economy, are not cultural goods and services but are products of identity and nationalism, affective expressions in different forms and styles, and inventions of what Filipino poet Michael M. Coroza coined through a play with words—imahe-nasyon or ‘imagined-­ nation’. Being cultural products (in the broadest sense of the word) that are beyond economic value and have been existing and flourishing in the Philippines within and outside the context of the creative economy, several artists and cultural workers believe that they can do away with the creative economy if it means keeping the value of culture intact. As Michael



M. Coroza, the mainstay poet and ad hoc manager of radio show Harana ng Puso (Serenade of the Heart) puts it: We’re not part of the creative industries because firstly, we’re not an industry. We have no earnings at all … What do they care about us? They won’t include us in their agenda, we’re not asking for their help in the first place. We do things on our own because they know we don’t make money. Don’t include us, we’re fine on our own. (Coroza, personal communication, February 5, 2016)

For some of the artists, cultural and creative products that reflect a region’s or a city’s identity as material culture has unquantifiable worth, often seeing its value as something that is worth more than one’s life. They seem to echo Walter Benjamin’s (1935/1969) ‘aura’ in contemplating the products’ authenticity given its proper cultural and historical context, rendering these products ‘above’ the logics of the market. As the cultural manager of the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group said when pertaining to the cultural artefacts used in folk dance: For them it’s just accessories, costume. It’s just another piece of clothing. But here, we try to make them believe that what we’re doing is important. And I told this boy once, ‘That? You can’t pay for that even with your life.’ Materially, it equates, it has material equation. If it has exchange value, it will cost you more than your life. (ROFG cultural manager, personal communication, April 22, 2016)

It is this specific type of consciousness of the value of culture, oftentimes tied to ideological leanings of certain groups and movements in the Philippines, that has made artists and cultural workers believe in their work as something whose use value cannot be reduced to economic rationalization. While the Creative Cities discourse promotes the potentiality of cultural creativity as an inherent and unlimited economic resource, its existence is not necessarily contingent to such. A certain understanding of culture and creativity among the artists, cultural educators and cultural and creative workers who are outside the elite circles of creative economy promoters informs the way they negotiate values amidst the crisis underlying the creative industries debate. As such, the products do not cease to exist albeit being threatened by the logic of ‘be efficient or disappear’ because of a clear inherent value rooted on a vernacular way of valuation, of knowing when a cultural product is a commodity and when it is not.



What would benefit the creative economy discourse in this case is its reverse: and that is looking at the vernacular understandings of the phenomenon and what they may bring to the performativity and sustainability of creative economy policies, instead of asking what the creative economy can bring to these local ways of cultural and creative-making.

Conclusion: Provincializing the Creative Cities Discourse The cities of Baguio and Manila, together with its cultural workers, artists and inhabitants, illustrate some of the untoward effects of employing authoritative discourse on differing social and material conditions (Asad 1979). The Creative Cities discourse and the creative economy adoption in the Global South are plagued with many Baguios and of many ways in which a narrow economistic treatment has disregarded and disrespected local understandings of culture, cultural practices, and creativity, among others. In a broader sense, such authoritative discourses side-step material realities in urban landscapes of the Global South whose conditions are not the same as those described and idealized in Euro-American policies. But it is also these social ills, these crises that problematize Southern urban landscapes, that serve as windows of opportunities for ad-hoc planning or vernacular ways of navigating the everyday. And it is also within these spaces that we can contest mainstream global urbanisms such as the Creative Cities discourse by looking at vernacular enunciations of various urban strategies. Vernacular  enunciations  have the potential to provide  alternative strategies to ‘provincialize’ dominating Euro-American development discourses, while also effectively bridging the gap between global developmental discourse and context-specific praxis (Bhan 2019; Sheppard et al. 2013). In 2019, a second Creative City was declared in the Philippines. Known as the ‘Queen City of the South’, Cebu city was named UNESCO Creative City of Design after being lobbied by Cebu-based international industrial designer Kenneth Cobonpue (de Castro 2019; Libby 2019; Philstar 2019; SunStar Cebu 2019). In a press statement given by UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay, Creative Cities ‘make culture the pillar, not an accessory, of their strategy’ in favour of political and social innovation (CNN 2019). The Philippines has latched on to  the creative economy trope of relying on the creative industries in driving economic growth, as



key government institutions such as the National Economic Development Authority has lauded the growing presence of Creative Cities in the country for their potential contribution to regional economies such as Cebu city (Rappler 2019). But as exemplified by cases such as Baguio and the culture-led urban regeneration strategies of Manila, reducing culture and creativity as economic resources runs the risk of aggravating the crisis of values, more so when conducted without careful consideration of the logics of pre-existing art, culture and creativity with inherently distinct use values for local communities. If the city, its creativity, and its image-branding are only made to fit a standardized model based on approvals of certain outlined dossiers, then the contradiction lies in creating a Creative City’s ‘unique’ narrative, but whose uniqueness is only within the confines set by certain global standards and certain quantifiable factors. Creative Cities have standardized difference: creative and unique but all at once the same. It is paramount for policymakers to look at vernacular ways of making Creative Cities plausible and sustainable, as local ways of culture and creativity have existed and persisted even before the preaching of the creative economy gospels. Whether we leave them be, as was suggested by the cultural worker who claimed to do away with the creative economy, or we deal with the vernacular strategies of the people who have long been adept at navigating their material conditions remain crucial in dismantling hegemonic developmental discourses. Because what is being revealed by the non-­ performativity of the creative economy in cities from the Global South is the simple truth that it is the creative economy that is in need of its potential actors to flourish—its artist, cultural workers, cultural educators—set in specific contexts dictated by given material conditions, and not the other way around. What can be suggested is to not just tailor-fit rhetorical architectures to earn a ticket to the UCCN exclusive club and stick to the dogmas of the gospel in its implementation, but to also find one’s own naming and conceptualization, to delve deeper into the logics and local understanding of cultural values, in order to create a vernacular creative city that can make calling one’s city a Creative City to the advantage of the majority of the actors, stakeholders and inhabitants of the urban landscapes of the Global South.



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From Foreign Community to Creative Town? Creativity and Contestation in Itaewon, Seoul Hyunjoon Shin

Introduction: Itaewon, Locus of Contesting Creativities Itaewon in the capital of South Korea has seen waves of urban gentrification in recent years. This has met with strong community resistance. The ‘mass refugee’ festival was held in December 2015 at Takeout Drawing (hereafter Takeout), an art space and commercial venue located in Itaewon Avenue in central Seoul. During the festival, series of forums were held by scholars, artists, writers and architects debating the fate of independent artists in the city. The venue also hosted independent music performances for small audiences. Art exhibitions, performances, and film screenings were amongst the dialogue. The festival venue was soon to be a subject of eviction, after a long and hard legal battle with the landlord.

H. Shin (*) Sungkonghoe University, Seoul, Republic of Korea © The Author(s) 2020 X. Gu et al. (eds.), Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia,




Fig. 7.1  A Gallery turned into a sit-in site, September 5 and December 9, 2015. ‘Stop Psy” and “Stop Gentrification” in English Roman scripts are clear. Photograph by Hyunjoon Shin

The building of Takeout was bought by the famous singer Psy. Slogans such as ‘Stop Psy’, and ‘Stop Gentrification’, represent the contestation over rights to the city between the ‘poor’, ‘art for art’s sake’ world and the ‘wealthy’ entertainment world. The case eventually settled outside the court in February 2016, resulting in the eviction of the building’s existing tenants. (See Figure 7.1). The case has been frequently discussed as one of the best examples of gentrification or supergentrification in Korea (Lees 2003; Butler and Lees 2006; Lee and Han 2019). This paper focuses on the impact of this gentrification in Itaewon, focusing on independent artists’ varied ways of negotiating their rights to the city. Importantly, these are ideological contestations over creative expressions, the creative economy and the creative city. I thus begin by reviewing these concepts and theories, followed by a brief history of Itaewon and its gentrification. I will also discuss how different positions in the creative economy shape artists’ perceptions and responses to the idea of ‘rights to the city’.

Revisiting the Creative Class and Creative City Ever since the rapturous reception of Richard Florida’s (2002) thesis garnered in the early 2000s, it has attracted multiple criticism. For instance, Peck (2005) and Pratt (2008) pointed out that Florida privileged consumption and did not properly address cultural production; and Krätke (2010) asserted that the group Florida called ‘creative professionals’ was in fact a ‘dealer class’ whose contribution to urban economy was insignificant. Even if we accept the existence of a creative class, it is too crude to



define them as a homogeneous group. It is true that Florida made a distinction between the super-creative core and other creative professionals within this creative class, but he failed to provide an in-depth analysis of creative workers other than describing their attributes as ‘bohemian’. This oversight has blinded us to the issues of exploitation within the creative class. Hesmondhalgh and Baker (2011) performed a critical case study of creative labour in the media industry, uncovering the complex and ambivalent characteristics, experience, and quality of work in the cultural industries. Morgan and Ren (2012) focused on a ‘creative underclass’, made up of those interested in making art not as a commodity, but as valuable in other ways. Bourdieu labeled this as ‘symbolic capital’ (Bourdieu 1984), and Sarah Thornton identified it as ‘subcultural capital’ (Thornton 1995), challenging the central thesis of the ‘creative economy’ (see also Gornostaeva and Campbell 2012). Angela McRobbie’s (2016) linked the rise of the ‘creative industries’ since the 1990s to a form of neoliberalism. And there has been a long line of arguments about the precarious and lowincome state of cultural/artistic work in the forms of outsourcing and subcontracting (Harvey 1990; Lloyd 2002; Ley 2003). At the same time the ‘creative underclass’ has often been related to urban activism, creating and organizing ‘creative resistance’ to top down planning regimes (Novy and Colomb 2012) and processes of gentrification. The use of a discourse of creativity is particularly striking in the area of urban renewal. In Seoul and other large cities in Korea, creativity has been mobilized for the urban ‘renewal’ and ‘placemaking’, mostly in the form of small-scale independent cultural actors. This creative underclass is encouraged to inhabit derelict urban areas, and to transform them into alluring creative zones. At the same time, ‘creative entrepreneurs’ are expected to achieve economic self-reliance by running their own businesses. My attention to independent cultural workers is indebted to Justin O’Connor’s study of St. Petersburg in Russia. Here, he pointed out that modern urban culture ‘operated not (or not exclusively) through state funding, but as a complex mix of independent cultural actors and commercial businesses’ (O’Connor 2005: 46). In his view, this mix constituted the source of innovation and development opportunities. He stressed, however, that the independents-led approach was not universally applicable, and that market transparency and democratic implementation



of policy were important conditions for creative cities. On this premise, O’Connor distinguished three different approaches to the development of cultural industries and creative cities: the ‘free market’ models of the United States and the United Kingdom; the ‘public goods’ model of France and Canada; and explicit link between the state and market in China and Singapore. In the case of Korea, a state-led creative city approach is the dominant form as in China and Singapore. In contrast, I attend to cases akin to the ‘free market’ model of a creative city project from below. In Seoul, this type of development includes Bukchon and Seochon in the old urban center, Hongdae in the west, and Garosu Gil in the south. During the late 1990s–early 2000s, these places were recreated as hip neighbourhoods, one after another. They were key sites for culture-led urban regeneration or ‘creative gentrification’ (Curran 2010; Gonzalez 2013; Rich 2019) and simultaneously battlefields of ‘creative resistance’ to its deleterious effects (Shin 2018; Shin 2019). There are, however, numerous points to consider and rework before applying the Anglo-American ‘free market’ model to the Asian metropolis of Seoul. To begin with, the chaebol (large industrial conglomerates) wield virtually absolute power over city’s economy, often distorting operations of the ‘free market’. This includes the large, strong and highly corporatised entertainment industry in the creative sector. Thus we cannot expect straight policy transfers (Pratt 2009) to yield similar results across all the different places in which they land (Lazzeretti, Boix and Capone 2008; Scott 2008; Scott 2010). This chapter is based on fieldwork in Takeout during 2015–2016. It was part of a larger research project on gentrification and displacement all over the Seoul metropolitan area. At the time, we reacted to gentrification already in progress and sought for a solution to what was happening. Now we are in a position to take some distance, to trace the placemaking by a multiplicity of actors. The in-depth interviews we originally performed in 2014–2015 with ten people are complemented by additional information we gathered in subsequent visits and conversations.

Itaewon as an Area and Gil or Streets as Places Itaewon loosely designates an area located in the eastside of Yongsangu, one of 25 gu1 or districts of Seoul. Situated in the southern slope of Namsan Mountain, Yongsangu remains one of the oldest districts of Seoul



having been incorporated into the city during the Japanese colonial period. Thanks to its strategic location, Yongsangu distinguishes itself from both old Seoul or Gangbuk and new town of Gangnam. Yongsangu’s distinctive sense of place essentially comes from it having been the US army base since the end of Korean War (Seoul Museum of History 2010; Kim 2004). Itaewon is located on the east side of Yongsan Garrison and was developed as a base to provide goods and services for US servicemen. During the 1950–1960s, bars, clubhouses, and red-light districts, all exclusive to US army personnel, along with rundown vernacular housing, dominated the landscape. The image of the place dramatically improved during the 1970–1980s corresponding to a reduction in the armed forces, the demolition of slums and construction of luxury housing, and the holding of mega events, such as the Olympic Games. As Itaewon rid itself of its associations with crime and moral corruption, it refashioned itself as an American town in Seoul, the place to buy rare foreign goods and to taste ‘authentic’ American food and nightlife. Since the 2000s, Itaewon has been transformed into a multicultural town, with an influx of migrant workers from the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. The place is now home to a substantial Muslim community, and various restaurants selling ethnic foods (Seoul Museum of History 2010: 89–104; Song 2007). In the wake of these later developments, Itaewon’s symbolic status as the local center of American culture has become increasingly weak. Instead, the place became a trendy and exotic leisure spot for Korean visitors on the one hand, and an increasingly diverse ethnic enclave on the other (Kim 2014). Itaewon has greatly expanded since the 2000s. In 2004, Kim delineated the boundary of Itaewon to an area of 1.4-kilometer diameter, including its neighbouring villages (Kim 2004: 18). Ten years later, however, Kim found Itaewon with a much wider area, including five villages (Kim 2014: 43). The center of Itaewon has expanded eastwards. Today, the Global Food Village, the government–designated tourist spot located in the north of Itaewon subway station, is commonly recognized as the center of Itaewon. As we have seen thus far, discourses on Itaewon had been constructed with close reference to foreigner and foreignness before the 2000s. Since then, however, the meaning and sense of Itaewon as a place has undergone a profound change. Foreigners and foreignness are still important for Itaewon’s uniqueness, but they are no longer the defining features of the place. New cultural actors have arrived in large numbers and changed



the characteristics of the area. The new cultural actors include both Koreans and non-Koreans engaged in various forms of cultural work rather than US army-related jobs. In following sections, I will give a detailed account of placemaking practices by diverse actors in the Itaewon area. Before that, however, it should be pointed out that the places in question are highly heterogeneous and unequal. First of all, there is distinct socio-spatial polarization between the wealthy north and the poor south of Itaewon. While the northern part boasts big houses, luxury condominiums, and foreign embassies in its landscape, the southern part is packed with dilapidated small houses located in narrow, steep side streets. The east-west divide is as significant as the north-south. Whereas the west end represents old Itaewon, with old low-rise buildings and a traditional market, the newly developed east side shows many modern high-rise buildings and luxury retail shops. In this context, this chapter focuses on the different ways in which these streets are made as result of a creative class struggle. More specifically, this chapter examines four Gil that are Comme des Garçons Gil, Gyeongridan Gil, Hangangjin Gil and Usadan Gil. I will contrast the first two to the last two in order to highlight two profoundly different ways of creative placemaking in the area.

Creative City as Creative Land Development Comme des Garçons Gil One of the landmarks in the Itaewon main street is the building of Cheil Worldwide. The company is the in-house advertising agency of the Samsung Group and the world’s 15th largest advertising agency in its own right. Cheil Worldwide is one of the leading actors in Itaewon’s creative industries, particularly in that it attracts to the area a diversity of related businesses of various sizes such as video production, costume design, and talent agencies. The area on the eastside of Cheil Worldwide is Samsung’s empire, complete with the private residence of Lee Kun-hee, the chairman of the conglomerate. There is no trace of slum dwellings, the longtime face of the area since the Korean War. Its spectacular transformation from one of the worst slums in the country to one of the richest parts of the city suggests



the heavy intervention of the central government in the area’s drastic clearance and redevelopment. The Samsung family aggressively bought lands in Itaewon long before their move to the area in 1985. For 20 years since 1970, they purchased 4.9 acres. They pledged to establish a ‘cultural town’ on the land. The pledge began to materialize when Cheil Worldwide moved to the area in 1998 and Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, was founded in 2004. The flagship store of the fashion brand Comme des Garçons, an affiliate of Samsung C&T Fashion Group, started business in 2010, and the Samsung-­ sponsored live theatre Blue Square opened in 2011. As a result of this relentless expansion into the creative industries, Samsung was able to build an empire of creative businesses ranging from advertising and art to fashion and performance art. Florida might have advised the renaming of Samsung’s Cultural Town project to that of ‘Creative Cluster’, had he only known of it. Other chaebol conglomerates have also been keenly interested in the area as a site to locate creative industries. The Daelim Group has D Museum and D Project Space, Kolon opened their fashion brand Series flagship store, and Hyundai Card founded Music Library in close proximity, and the number is increasing. Media coverages of this chaebol-led placemaking were generally positive, with headlines such as ‘the next Garosu Gil’ (Economy Chosun 2010), ‘the business district specializing in art and culture’ (Chosun Biz 2011), ‘the Samsung-initiated fashion street’ (Dailian 2014). It suggests this approach to placemaking has been going strong with the backing of corporate creativity and the full support of the major press. It was in fact the major press that was instrumental in renaming the street once called Hannamdong Garosu Gil to Comme des Garçons Gil, symbolically handing over the whole street to Samsung. In sum, the making of a creative city in the eastside of Itaewon was done smoothly by an immensely powerful chaebol company without much state intervention or popular protest. Takeout was located across the road from the Comme des Garçons store. Psy’s purchase of the property appears to have a more financial motivation rather than anything related to the creative industries. Around the same time as Psy’s acquisition of the building, there was a sudden rise in investment in the Itaewon property market, mainly by stars in the entertainment and sports industries. Psy’s position in this context is representative of the alignment between the creative class and highly capitalized global corporations, in this case chaebol. Together they created a unique model of the creative economy and creative city.



Gyeongridan Gil Gyeongridan Gil is the unofficial name of the street that stretches from the entry of Itaewon to halfway up to Namsan mountain. Its official name is Hoenamuro but very few people are aware of it. The name Gyeongridan Gil originated from Yukgun Jung-ang Gyeongridan (Korea Army Financial Management Corps) located at the approach to the street. Unlike the bustling high street of Itaewon, Gyeongridan Gil was a quiet residential area where US and Korean servicemen, US army civilian employees, and longtime Korean residents lived. New entrants began to flow in to this rather stagnant place in the mid-­1990s, changing the atmosphere and character. The first inward-­ movers were native English teachers.2 Mostly white and college-educated, this group surged in numbers after the Korean government’s implementation of EPIK (English Program in Korea) in 1995. The number of native English teachers is said to have now reached 30,000. They soon became the dominant group among immigrants from the West, building a community in Gyeongridan Gil and nearby Haebangchon. Since the area has long been home to foreign residents in Seoul, it was easier for them to settle down there. It already had facilities such as foreign bookstores, secondhand goods shops, grocery stores and so on. Since the early 2010s, some of the foreign residents began to open ‘authentic’ foreign restaurants to cater to tastes of an increasing foreign population. These restaurants changed the landscape and feel of the area, which is now akin to a small North American or West European town. These places not only served exotic food but also generated a cosmopolitan atmosphere not found anywhere else in Seoul. Gyeongridan Gil also underwent a transformation by locals. In 2011, a young Korean photographer J opened a restaurant, a café, and a bakery all on the same street, naming it J Street. It soon went viral and J’s success story became an overnight media sensation. It attracted large numbers of visitors, and investment from large corporations and celebrities. The original old small buildings were renovated and enlarged. In the mid-2010s, Gyeogridan Gil became known as the quintessential gentrified place, exemplified by the names of newly gentrified areas which often sport the postfix -ridan Gil such as Mangridan Gil, Hwangridan Gil, and Bamridan Gil. While there were many places in Seoul which suffered the effects of gentrification, the speed of gentrification in Gyeongridan Gil was far too fast for the area. As the rent skyrocketed in the mid 2010s, the



majority of tenants, both commercial and residential, left the street. Vacant shops increased in number and visitors stopped visiting. A lack of any coordinated development plan for the area has been blamed for its demise. The resentment at the lack of any relevant policy was expressed by local Koreans, too. An owner of a small bar said: Gyeongridan Gil has been on a rollercoaster from hipster’s holy land to their grave, from the street of craft beer to big name celebrities.

By contrast to Comme des Garçons Gil, developed by chaebol, Gyeongrian Gil was initiated by creative entrepreneurs. The presence of celebrities was observed in both cases, but their role as gentrifiers was more conspicuous in the latter. In Comme des Garçons Gil, they were tenants of a highly capitalized cluster type real estate development. In the latter, however, they were the major players, actively involved in raising the property value of the area by providing the place with glamour and sheen. The latter is close to the phenomenon of bottom up culture led urban development, known as ‘hipster capitalism’ (Scott 2017). However, these creative entrepreneurs are by no means the art for art’s sake bohemians. They are the elite class of South Korea. J’s next move was to open a food store in a luxury department store in Gangnam. These experiments in creative entrepreneurship are often considered stepping-stones to a chaebol business. The lack of any long-term vision or commitment to turn Gyeongridan Gil into a sustainable creative district has led to the areas rapid decline, while Comme des Garçons Gil is still going strong.

Between Creativity/Innovation and Self-Reliance/ Survival Hangangjin Gil Compared to the opportunistic creative entrepreneurs discussed above, there are real artistic developments aimed not primarily at profit making. The first case in point is Hangangjin Gil, a narrow alleyway behind Comme des Garçons Gil. The entry to Hangangjin Gil was where Takeout was located. Takeout was a successful art venue and a brand of its own. In their manifesto, Takeout claimed, “A new brand to sustain a cultural space without outside



support.” They chose not to follow the conventional path of public fund-­ dependent art practice, instead, they pursued financial self-sufficiency through runnig a ‘desert café’ at the venue. Takeout started out in the old city center of Seongbukdong in 2006. They moved to Itaewon in 2010, renting a renovated public bathhouse. According to chairperson C, they wanted to create a ‘cultural space for people to network’. The place was mainly for alternative or independent artists to work and hangout. It was an unqualified success and soon Takeout found themselves expanding their business venture. We first met C in 2014 before Takeout’s dispute with Psy broke out. At the time, she claimed that Takeout was a neighbourhood gallery and interested in the cultural resources of the local community. At the time, these statements felt at odds with Takeout’s actual position: they were already too big to be a neighbourhood gallery and did not appear to have any ties with the local community. However, C’s claim had a grain of truth. Among the people who frequented the venue were community-­ based small independents. They were Takeout’s allies in anti-gentrification struggle. These small actors settled down in Hangangjin in 2009. This was at a time when a steep rise in rents displaced small creative producers in multiple places across Seoul. Those people lost their workplaces and flocked to small backstreets in the area. After that emerged an art space, a theatre, art college studios, fashion designer work spaces, an art gallery, and an independent bookshop. In 2015, however, most of these spaces had disappeared and many new businesses started up, often not in the art sector. B, who ran a gallery café and an art collective, moved from Hongdae to Hangangjin Gil. He first came here by chance while feeling that commercialization was killing the diversity of Hongdae. He decided that it was the right place to pursue what he had been doing in Hongdae. B found it increasingly difficult to sell artworks to new visitors. In Itaewon, his new focus was on collaboration with local independent fashion designers. The place already had a vibrant fashion business, taking advantage of its close proximity to affluent Gangnam. B’s idea of the collaboration was concocted to ensure the financial self-reliance of his art-related project. In fact, his latest exhibition was titled ‘Independent Mind’ expressing his yearning for cultural as well as economic independence. I, a photographer and B’s collaborator for ‘Independent Mind’, asserted that the purpose of the exhibition was ‘to create a local community in which members communicate and show their spaces to each other’. The



problem was, however, that there were discrepancies of interest between successful and failing businesses, ones that want to expand and ones that want to keep it small. During a recent visit, we saw that art spaces were increasingly replaced by fashion stores, cafés and restaurants. This was confirmed by ‘I’, who suggested that fashion and food were part of the survival strategies for creative businesses in the area. An art gallery doubles as a fancy café; a live music venue as a pub or a bar. The emphasis on ‘amenities’ resulted from the realization that it was virtually impossible for art and culture to survive as a standalone creative industries, particularly when pursued by independents. Usadan Gil Usadan Gil is a narrow backstreet between Hannadong and Bogwangdong on the southern part of Itaewon. The area is home to the Muslim community in Seoul, centred on the Seoul Central Mosque established in 1976. Usadan Gil has long been a typical slum town, located on a steep hilltop. The Seoul Metropolitan Government’s redevelopment plan in the early 2000s, had a detrimental effect as it prevented residents from renovating their houses in the area. The result was increasing vacancies, which in turn attracted temporary uses. One group of people who relocated to these empty premises were creative independents. Their inflow started from the opening of café S in 2012. A design workshop W and community activist space N institute soon followed. Before 2012, Usadan Gil remained a place for ethnic minorities from South Asia and Middle East (Song 2007) on the one hand, and gender minorities such as transgender and sex workers on the other, who worked in nearby Itaewon. These population characteristics constructed Usadan Gil’s identity as a ‘community of strangers’ (Kim 2014). In this place of minorities, the young Koreans, who came late to the area, identified themselves as ‘generational minorities’. Self-deprecatingly called themselves as ‘surplus’, ‘losers’, or ‘ne’er-do-wells’. They rushed in to Usadan Gil like ‘refugees’ in the mid-2010s and transformed the local landscape. H1, for example, stressed his different view of what a job should be— free and voluntary rather than restricted to rules and routine. H2 identified herself as a ‘sustainable lounger’ who quit her job at a large company and settled in Usadan Gil for the pursuit of personal happiness. Some of these Korean latecomers organized a collective, Usadandan (Usadan



Clan). Usadandan started as a gathering of informal drinking buddies but soon grew into a neighbourhood meeting, and then grew even bigger to its current form. The collective became the focal point of the local community by holding regular community meeting, publishing a neighbourhood paper, and organizing an art market called Gyedanjang (stairway market) from 2013. The monthly market was particularly successful. Usadandan members showed a strong sense of community that contrasted with their highly individualized exterior. They appeared to take helping each other and sharing things with each other for granted. One member said that sometimes members even shared door lock PIN codes, and members rarely ventured outside the community. The latter implied that a certain level of self-sufficiency was at work. By building this tight-­ knit, village-like community, they were constructing a new lifestyle and experimenting with a new identity for the area. Ironically, this alternative identity has contributed to an intensifying gentrification. In 2015, J1 talked about the cycle of life according to the biennial ritual of renewing rental agreements. Some artists had to leave […] and only those with something to sell survived as rent went up 50 percent and deposits 30–60 percent in two years.

Gyedanjang discontinued in 2016 for fear of inadvertently accelerating gentrification. Those who remained had mixed feelings about the situation they were in. Some hoped that small businesses like theirs may still find a place amongst the large franchise shops on the street. Others had forebodings of the complete demolition and redevelopment of the area in the near future. Despite this uncertainty, most said they planned to stay in Usadan Gil for five more years. In 2019, after five years from the interview, we found some of them still living there, though many had left. Chased out by gentrification, these independents came to embody the transiency of the creative urban community, leading the life of nomads or ‘urban refugees’ (J2). Unlike Hangangjin Gil discussed above, here the lack of (or rather the refusal of) a business model has forced creatives out of a gentrified area (Fig.  7.2). As a result, the streets are always mixed and messy in this neighborhood.



Fig. 7.2  A day in the life at an alley of Itaewon in 2016. Photograph by Hyunjoon Shin

Conclusion Three years ago, we applied western-originated gentrification theory to Itaewon. We classified the cases of Comme des Garçons Gil and Gyeongridan Gil as super-gentrification, in that global corporations had joined forces with highly capitalized creative businesses to drive gentrification from above. On the other hand, Hangangjin Gil and Usadan Gil were seen as exemplary cases of sub-gentrification (Cummings 2015), denoting bottom up interventions by many small independent creative businesses. However, the diversity of class fractions, from super-creative core and creative professionals, to creative independents and creative underclass, rubbing together in the narrow confines of Itaewon, reaffirms the importance of understanding the specific historical-cultural trajectory of place. Itaewon’s creative landscape was shaped by the historical moment involving the relocation of a US army camp town and the pressing need for a new urban redevelopment vision in its absence. This attracted a range of diverse actors, from chaebol to micro independents, engaged in distinct experimental practices of creative urban renewal.



By the end of the 2010s, as we see in the case studies above, in the face of a hyper commercialization that took hold of area, the four original creative Gils were facing different forms of a creativity crisis. Despite efforts to maintain the presence of small independent creative businesses, such as in the area close to Itaewon subway station, through upgrading the historical-­cultural endowment of restaurants and clubs, Itaewon is looking increasingly commercialized and mainstream. It seems to me that there is limited space in the area for fringe creative activities. Unless creative entrepreneurs are capable of translating their creative practices into viable business models or are able to collaborate with global corporations, it will be increasingly impossible for them to maintain their presence in the area. This is the creative city as we know it now. Acknowledgment  This research has received partial support from National Research Foundation of Korea (Project ID: NRF-2018S1A6A3A01080743).

Notes 1. Seoul, the only designated special city in Korea, is a metropolitan city covering an area of 605.21 km2. The city is made up of 25 districts or gu. Districts of Seoul are often bigger than provincial cities in terms of size, function and finance. The Seoul Capital Area covers about 11,704 km2 and spans Seoul, nearby Incheon, and the province of Gyeonggido. It is one of the biggest megacities in the world, with a population of about 25 million. It goes without saying that it is the economic, political, cultural center of Korea. Seoul, let alone the Seoul Capital Area, has become too heterogeneous, uneven, rough, and multi-layered to be a ‘city as a place’, as is true of other megacities in Asia and beyond. 2. According to the data from Statistics Korea (, the number of holders of visa for teaching English (E-2) was 17,797 in 2014. However, there were quite a few of them teaching English without holding that particular visa such as a spouse of Korean citizen or overseas Korean. Therefore estimated figure was about 30,000 (Hankyung Daily, July 14, 2015). Korean immigration law stipulates only citizens of seven countries are eligible for E-2 visa, i.e. United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Republic of South Africa. People from other English-speaking countries such as Nigeria, India, the Philippines are ineligible for the visa. It partly explains the lack of visibility of non-white races in native English teachers’ gathering places like Itaewon and Hongdae.



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Whose Cultural Memory? Disruptive Tactics by the Creative Collectives in George Town, Malaysia Zaki Habibi

Entangled Practices of Heritage, Memory and Creativity in the City Having been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008, George Town—a city in Penang island, Malaysia—has transformed itself from a multicultural melting pot to a contemporary creative city within a rich postcolonial context. The initial transformation of George Town into a creative city could be understood within the framework of ‘creative city-­ making’ (Landry 2006; Landry 2008), an approach that considers not only the importance of the built environment developed through infrastructure-driven projects, but more importantly focuses on the balanced

Z. Habibi (*) Department of Communication and Media, Lund University, Lund, Sweden Department of Communications, Islamic University of Indonesia, Yogyakarta, Indonesia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 X. Gu et al. (eds.), Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia,




relationships among the many elements within the city. This chapter critically employs the framework of ‘mediated memories’ (van Dijck 2007) and ‘culture on display’ (Dicks 2003) to explore the different voices in this creative city. It also investigates the relation between cultural memories and identity struggles in the specific case of George Town, as exemplified by individuals within creative collectives of the city. George Town, started as a port and trading hub during the colonial Straits Settlement (Cheng et al. 2014), then as a manufacturing and resort tourism city in the 1970s (Goh 1998; Khoo 2012), to the more recent role as a cultural heritage and global tourism city (Goh 2012). The city embarked on a new model of urban revitalisation, employing a creative city approach. Yet, the policies and their practical implementation, as well as the responses from city dwellers, demonstrate different nuances from what happened in many other creative cities including the understanding of public participation in the urban planning processes. It would be misleading to simply compare what happens in George Town with creative city policies and practices that take place in major European or Northern American creative cities. Similar experiences from other cities in the Asian region, especially those with a postcolonial context, would perhaps provide a more directly relevant comparison (Kong and O’Connor 2009). George Town is well known as a heritage city. It was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site along with Melaka in 2008, based on ‘over 500 years of trading and cultural exchange between East and West in the Straits of Malacca’ (UNESCO 2008). The official nomination dossier for this heritage site was submitted by the government in 2005 (Cheng et  al. 2014), but the whole process actually took ten years (Khoo 2012). The heritage discourse in Penang was rooted in the 1980s, when a few social issues, including the maintenance of old shophouses, rent control policy and economic decline, became prominent problems faced by the city. Some social and cultural events, initiated mostly by civil society organisations, were held to openly discuss these issues, such as The Penang Story Conference in 2001 and 2002, organised by the Penang Heritage Trust, among others. The state established the State Heritage Committee, involving 16 NGOs and some professional agencies (Cheng et al. 2014) to incorporate heritage issues within public discourse and to prepare the submission dossier. After being officially listed by UNESCO in 2008, the state-led initiatives became more prominent. These included the commissioning of many public art projects from 2009, followed by the establishment of World



Heritage Incorporated as the key institutional agency in April 2010. The George Town Festival, an annual performance and contemporary arts festival held since 2010, is another state-backed cultural programme. These state-led initiatives were in line with other urban policies introduced after the city gained heritage status, such as a heritage tax for visiting tourists (Khoo et al. 2017). These kinds of state-led ‘creative’ initiatives were soon followed by other initiatives from commercial organisations, especially those involved in tourism and the service industries. These programmes articulated an idealised cultural memory of the city, in which the multiethnic character of the city is presented as harmonious across different historical periods. It was seen as the key mechanism through which the city authorities could manage complex creative policies and practices. As Erll and Rigney (2009, 1) point out, premised on the idea that memory can only become collective as part of a continuous process whereby memories are shared with the help of symbolic artefacts that mediate between individuals and, in the process, create communality across both space and time.

However, the sense of cultural history and identity has different meanings for different people and cultural groups. The state initiatives in George Town tend to display cultural memory in the form of city branding, economic advancement, and global tourism. ‘Marking George Town’, a state-commissioned public art project, is one example. This public art commission was established to foreground public cultural memories through placemaking practices empowering local participation. This adheres to Landry’s idea of approaching creative cities in a holistic way to be about ‘cultural aspiration, its networks, values and stories, also its sensual dimension’ (Pagh and Vesterdal 2008, 9). However, the first selected project for ‘Marking George Town’ was won by a Kuala Lumpur-based sculpture studio, Sculptureatwork, rather than local artists from Penang. The next commissioned project was the famous mural series in 2012 made by a Lithuanian-born visual artist, Ernest Zacharevic. Despite the artistic merits of all the artworks, these cultural programmes have neglected the local cultural identity and its practices. There is very limited participation by local talent with differing views about local memories, and a limited variety of forms of creative placemaking.



These state-led programmes, borrowing Bella Dicks’ (2003) notion, have become a project of cultural memory on display. As a result, the voice of individuals who live in the city especially those who work with creativity on a daily basis are excluded. As Dicks (2003, 68) argued, urban planning strategies and developments tend to focus on the creation of spectacular, design-led, retail and entertainment zones in the contemporary city, eventually resulting in ‘the spectacular, celebratory image on display in urban enclaves’ targeted more at tourists from afar, local weekenders and day trippers or other middle class urban populations. Such a strategy of culture on display reinforces existing social and cultural exclusions.

Everyday Creativity and Cultural Memory on Display Making sense of the past and present as a process of self-formation is a key element of memory’s role in our lives. José van Dijck (2007) suggests the concept of ‘mediated memories’, as both the act of memory and memory products. For her, there is no clear-cut separation between individual and collective cultural memory. The intersection of both, she argues, is ever presence in people’s everyday lives. Understanding individual cultural memory as an important site for academic scrutiny is important in countering the unique emphasis on collective cultural memory (van Dijck 2007, 25). This chapter investigates the individuals’ voice in George Town as a way of disrupting cultural memories mediated through, and in, everyday creativities. These voices can be read as an alternative narrative of identity formation, against the singular narrative projected by the state—a nationalist heritage imagination (Goh 2012). Cultural memory in this sense, then, becomes a site for the contestation of identities. This chapter is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in George Town in 2016 and 2017. The materials range from interview transcripts, field observation notes, and relevant mass media texts to provide a broader context. I also used a visual methodology with photographs shot in the immersive mode of a documentary. In this chapter, I focus on two key cultural events in the city—the 8th George Town Festival 2017 and the commemoration of Malaysian Independence Day in August 2017. Both of these events signify the top-down strategy by the government. They are also concerned with fixing the meaning of the cultural memories displayed



through creative practices. Informed by Michel de Certeau’s seminal work, mainly his ‘poetics of everyday life’ and ‘everyday tactics of dwelling in the city’ (de Certeau 1984; de Certeau et al. 1998), the analysis in this chapter explores the everyday experiences of individuals from four George Town creative collectives who reside and work in a compound of buildings called Hin Bus Depot during the two cultural events.

Voices from the Creative Collectives The old bus depot buildings have housed several creative collectives in George Town since 2014. The compound is owned privately by a family and one member of this family became a ‘Director’, for all creative collectives who reside there. Hin Bus Depot is located a half kilometre outside of the designated heritage buffer zone. Thus, different activities and physical alterations are possible. However, the owner maintains the physical look, including the old parts of the compound, without any major renovations. Before becoming a creative hub, it hosted a solo exhibition of Ernest Zacharevic, who now resides in Penang. This event attracted wider attention, especially from those who work in creative scene. After this event, the owner began to allow a few groups to use this space for their activities. This gradual increase in activities continues up to the present. Each creative collective runs their own activities, while regularly contributing to collaborative projects, as well as involving other creative collectives from their wider networks. The focus here will be on the experiences of individuals in four creative collectives (Fig. 8.1). They are (1) Pokothings,

Fig. 8.1  The building compound of Hin Bus Depot (inside yellow line) as seen in this aerial view during day and night, it is a home for several creative collectives in George Town since 2014



a wooden craft workshop, (2) Grafikdistrict Solutions, an open forum for young graphic designers and illustrators, (3) Weez Concept (KIWE), a handmade craft studio and accessories store, and (4) Hin Bus Depot’s pop-up independent market, art exhibitions and social gathering for creative collectives. These creatives’ reflections on their intervention in George Town’s creative city development are analysed at three analytical levels. They are disrupting memories, the politics of inclusion-exclusion and the formation of organic space. The practices of individuals in each creative collective can be understood as a way of negotiating their own cultural identity in the face of the state endorsed creative city narrative. Disrupting Memories Cultural memory can be understood in a dynamic way. It is not something fixed across time and space. It is, an ongoing process of remembrance and forgetting in which individuals and groups continue to reconfigure their relationship to the past and hence reposition themselves in relation to established and emergent memory sites. (Erll and Rigney 2009, 2)

However, as explained already, the way in which cultural memories are officially projected and materialised in George Town is far less dynamic (Fig. 8.2).

Fig. 8.2  Culture on display in the city: the state-commissioned public sign in Penang International Airport and the diorama in a private-owned museum



The official narrative, for instance, evokes, through urban signposting, the glorious colonial port city of Penang under the British Colonial Empire, while forgetting the problems of colonialism and its complex legacies in modern times. This approach neglects the complex and divergent realities of multi-ethnic society in Penang. It is very problematic, because as Kusno’s (2010, 12) argued postcolonial cities cannot be based on the presumed coherence of a collective memory, even though such an approach is desired. This kind of ‘official’ cultural memory has presented significant difficulties of introducing new ideas or different ways of doing things in the city. One member of a creative collective expressed his concern: People in George Town just go on with their life, day to day, they don’t change their routines. So, with what we’re doing, sometimes creative stuff or art stuff, people don’t have any time to be interested in creative stuff. […] I have a point to make here … this city has a problem with young people. This city population is very ageing, so new ideas are hard to come by. When young people, like us here in Hin Bus, set up something new, fresh, or young, I think we’re kind of disrupting something. Maybe positively, maybe negatively. (Alex, 30-year-old male wood-craft designer)

This wood-craft designer shows his frustration at trying to be accepted for his practices in his own city. When several new craftspeople try new techniques, or new approaches in product designs, they face difficulties in showing these to the wider public. There’s limited opportunities for them to explore different ways of making things. Despite this, many makers realise they have to expand their horizon by collaboratively working with other likeminded people. Alex also reflects on how difficult it is to make people appreciate different ways and styles of his creative works compared to traditional woodcraft works in George Town. The latter was made quickly in an industrial manner whereas his, are made slowly by hand. But he thinks that people should embrace the idea of handmade and have more of the attitude of ‘It’s okay to be slow.’ In George Town, and in the Malaysian context in general, the idea of growth and rapid progress as a sign of modernity is rarely contested (Goh 1998, 168–169). Thus, for those who work in a less market oriented industry like creative industries, it is not easy to articulate their needs and receive support from public funding.



After four, five years we’re running our handmade products in Penang, we feel that it’s very hard to survive. Unless you do it really like a part-timer, you know, ‘you take it or leave it lah’, like that. [Penangites in general] they do not really appreciate. Especially, the price goes first, you know. So, what we think is, if you want to really make it as a business, you need the other supports. This is the very important thing. (Wee, 44-year-old male handmade crafter and entrepreneur)

The creatives deal with this challenge by forming closely knitted communities. ‘You need others’ support’ is a common expression amongst creatives. Mutual support helps to sustain self-motivation, and offers disruption to the mainstream cultural memories in society. This fixed collective memory derives from the way the heritage status and the politics of remembrance are designed by the city officials in George Town. All these tend to be interpreted in a rather narrow sense. Liinamaa’s (2016) study on urban memory discourse in Toronto’s creative city projects shows similar tendencies (Liinamaa 2016, 661). The city government’s vision of cultural memory tends to romanitisize the traditional and historical memory of the city, yet ignoring contemporary cultural lives. As ‘memory is not only historical, psychological, social or political but also aesthetic and spatial’ (Liinamaa 2016, 657), the way some creative collectives aesthetically respond to their physical environment is worthy of our attention. The photograph shown above is taken in the back side of Hin Bus Depot compound where two creative collectives use this part of the old buildings as their office and workshop studio, namely LUMA and Grafikdistrict Solutions on the left and the right respectively. Having concerns about social inequality, racial prejudice, and cultural representations in their city, the creative collectives utilised various aesthetic and communal approaches. The limitation on altering old buildings in the city, due to strong heritage regulation, for example, elicited a response from some creative collectives. Murals, especially the non–statecommissioned type, are obvious disruptive tactics these creative collectives employ to show a kind of cultural dissent. Painting the wall in a more colourful theme, as seen in Fig. 8.3, is one way to articulate their feelings. While on other occasions, a few local street artists draw murals in hidden corners of the city (Fig. 8.5), critically responding to the abundance of the state- and private-commissioned street art primarily with the intention of attracting global tourists and financial investment (Fig. 8.4).



Fig. 8.3  The façade in the back side of Hin Bus Depot compound

Fig. 8.4  Tourism boost: the state-commissioned street arts projects and commercial initiatives by hotels and other service industries in George Town



Fig. 8.5  The creative collectives make their own murals in a few hidden corners of the city

The weekly pop-up market held every Sunday by Hin Bus Depot is also an example of a communal approach being used to address the lack of appreciation and accessible market for the local crafts and independent handmade scene. The informants talked about many different topics, subjects, or periods to be remembered in the city. All of them agreed that the collective remembrance projects in George Town ought to be more inclusive allowing reflections from different ethnic groups incorporating inter-­ ethnic and inter-generational considerations. The Politics of Inclusion–Exclusion Tensions between older and younger generations, racial prejudice, or different tastes are laid down as hidden aspects that the creative cities’ policy should reflect upon. Two informants from different collectives reflect on their experience of the local art scene:



There is a kind of tension between the old and young people among the art scene lah. The older artists they are, like, established and they are doing all this watercolour [painting]. And, now it’s contemporary art. They don’t mix, they don’t talk to each other very often. (Alex, 30-year-old male wood-­ craft designer)

And, George Town is somehow still very small and there are still a lot of conservative people here, both in lifestyles or politics, that cannot accept new ideas, new techniques, new ways. (Chun Woei, 43-year-old male animator and graphic designer)

The politics of inclusion-exclusion which occurred in George Town result from a selective remembering of traditional and well-known cultural practices whilst forgetting new and emergent ones: Even George Town Festival, they are looking for artists from outside, from KL [Kuala Lumpur] or overseas. Just a few artists from Penang are invited. […] For me it’s not a George Town Festival. […] I am not sure how they are planning it, I just can’t agree with George Town Festival inviting all outsiders, from out of this state and from overseas. (Kitosa, 43-year-old female handmade crafter and entrepreneur)

Media representation, especially local and national newspaper coverage of the 8th George Town Festival 2017, shared the same narrative with the idealised image promoted by state agencies (The Star 2017, 12; Yaacob 2017, 2). They presented an idealised view of a successful event in which the city plays a significant role in global cultural interactions. There was an idealisation of multicultural representation, in which this event was held to encompass and accommodate all ethnic cultural groups in the city. Most of the creative collectives’ members, who routinely deal with this issue through their creative practices, expressed concerns about the lack of engagement with local creative groups in this approach led by the government. In local newsletter, a one-panel cartoon (M.E. 2017, 2) represented a narrative engaging inclusively with global values for culture. The visual elements, such as portraiture of the characters (visitor/tourist, local guide/citizen, local performer), ethnic/traditional music instrument, wardrobe of the characters, facial expression and body gestures, re-enforce



the dialogue by suggesting a successful global event. This kind of representation, again, demonstrates the mainstream narrative in an outward-­ looking model of mobilising the creative capital of the city. I also noted that most of the main events in this festival consisted of performing arts by groups or artists coming from outside George Town and even outside Malaysia. Also, the main performances involved the contemporary art of dancing, theatre and music, attracting audiences who were mostly global tourists or visitors. Only a few traditional and contemporary local arts were performed and exhibited, and these were showcased at the fringes, not in the main festival programme. The creative collective members expressed their concerns, It raises a question mark. ‘You’re calling it George Town Festival, but you’re not promoting any arts and crafts from George Town’, you know. You just import all those from other countries. […] This is not only happened once. (Wee, 44-year-old male handmade crafter and entrepreneur)

There are strong concerns amongst these creative collective members about not being recognised by their own city and fellow city dwellers. As in any form of the politics of remembering, the forgetting part is always associated with power relations. In this particular situation, the lack of representation demonstrated a top down policy approach rather than a policy that’s grounded in local communities and local creative practices. Formation of Organic Space Indeed, the recent cultural policies have reformatted the city into an aspirational global creative city with an emphasis on cultural heritage and consumption. Resisting this top down policy, the creative collectives in Hin Bus Depot, have responded with a range of interventions through creative placemaking. These often happen in an organic way, through creating, working, managing, networking and building a sense of community. Being at Hin Bus Depot opens up a lot of opportunities for me personally. I met new people, I met new friends. Basically, the whole networking. (Hafiz, 26-year-old male graphic designer and event assistant)

The way the government and international agencies work in George Town, can be understood as an example of cultural consumption. As Dicks (2003, 7) argued, ‘cultural display is increasingly geared towards the



Fig. 8.6  Hin’s family: the place, the people and the activities inside

cultivation of the model consumer rather than the model citizen.’ The resistance to this model derives naturally from the cultural producers’ perspective on building a sense of community with strong incentives to produce and making culture. In Hin Bus Depot—the creatives call themselves ‘Hin’s family’ (Fig. 8.6). They influence the making of organic space by employing new ways of making and producing art works and practices that are non-proprietary, based on collaboration, embedded in everyday life, and open for social interactions with audiences in an organic way. Speaking about the way they organise their collective, one informant says: More open. No, there is no structure, there is no bosses, there is no who is the boss whatsoever. We call it like a round-table thing. (Chun Woei, 43-year-old male animator and graphic designer)

The essence of space itself, as Stasiewicz-Bienkowska (2014, 75) suggests, is perceived as untrodden and pathless; space is often associated with openness, mobility, freedom and venture, but it can also signify peril.



There are many challenges for sustaining such creative projects in the city. As Kusno (2010) observed, spatial struggles or the rights to the city is ultimately an exercise of power. One member reflected: Even though there are so many groups [in the compound], it’s a good mix. The whole Hin Bus, as a space, is a good collection of mixture of different people and activities that make it work. (Marie, 63-year-old female designer)

To be taken seriously through their creative intervention in the city, they have to be included or recognised by wider urban communities (such as the George Town Festival). This is challenging because of the top down nature of creative city policies, leaving little spaces for the creatives to express themselves in the city. But the creatives will persist. As one key person in the collective compellingly says: I think why we work and some don’t … this space happened because we have groups doing art together … it wasn’t a place-making advert, it wasn’t a space a developer looking for a group of people to activate the space. So, we have a real, genuine content. (Khing, 32-year-old female event manager)

Conclusion This chapter has presented a case study of community-run creative collectives in the Hin Bus Depot in George Town, Malaysia. Through the question of ‘whose cultural memory’, I show that local ways of life are important building blocks for thinking about the discourse of creative cities, particularly in Southeast Asia. The disruptive tactics employed by the local creative collectives challenge not only the globalizing creative cities discourse, as applied in different urban contexts around the world, but who should be defining the parameters of this borrowed policy narrative. The three analytical areas situated creatives’ creative intervention in a broader social and cultural framework. It allowed these to be viewed outside of the heritage framework. These articulations also challenge the way cultural memories are formed and institutionalised. By showing and investigating these voices from the edge of the society, this chapter reminds us, as Lee (2018, 3) suggested, that we should not only perceive ‘Asia as a place for empirical fieldwork’, but also its potential to be ‘a core site for the production of theoretical knowledge’.



Having discussed the empirical case here and analysed its correlation with the several specific concepts, ranging from mediated memories, culture on display, to alternative voice in creative city, it is my hope that this chapter could contribute to Lee’s sense of theoretical knowledge production. As Jim McGuigan (2009, 165) suggests in Cool Capitalism, many cities around the globe tend to follow the global ‘prescription for creative development’, and it is important to consider this particular case of George Town to enrich the variety of responses by city dwellers to the discursive bandwagon of global, creative city.

References Cheng, Edmund W., Anthony Ho Fai Li, and Shu-Yun Ma. 2014. Resistance, Engagement, and Heritage Conservation by Voluntary Sector: The Case of Penang in Malaysia. Modern Asian Studies 48 (3): 617–644. https://doi. org/10.1017/S0026749X1200087X. de Certeau, Michel. 1984. The Practice of Everyday Life. Trans. S.F.  Rendall. Berkeley: University of California Press. de Certeau, Michel, Luce Giard, and Pierre Mayol. 1998. The Practice of Everyday Life, Volume II: Living and Cooking. Trans. T.J.  Tomasik. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Dicks, Bella. 2003. Culture on Display: The Production of Contemporary Visitability. Berkshire, UK: Open University Press and McGraw-Hill Education. Erll, Astrid, and Ann Rigney, eds. 2009. Mediation, Remediation, and the Dynamics of Cultural Memory. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter. Goh, Beng-Lan. 1998. Modern Dreams: An Enquiry into Power, Cityscape Transformations and Cultural Difference in Contemporary Malaysia. In Southeast Asian Identities: Culture and the Politics of Representation in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, ed. Joel S.  Kahn, 168–202. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS). ———. 2012. Heritage as Knowledge: Time, Space, and Culture in Penang. In Catching the Wind: Penang in a Rising Asia, ed. Francis E. Hutchinson and Johan Saravanamuttu, 42–54. Singapore: ISEAS Publishing. Khoo, Salma N. 2012. George Town, Penang: Managing a Multicultural World Heritage Site. In Catching the Wind: Penang in a Rising Asia, ed. Francis E. Hutchinson and Johan Saravanamuttu, 20–41. Singapore: ISEAS Publishing. Khoo, Suet L., Nurwati Badarulzaman, Narimah Samat, and Sharifah R.S. Dawood. 2017. How Possible is a Creative City in Penang? An Analysis of Architects’ Perceptions about Creativity and Quality of Place. Creative Industries Journal 10 (1): 3–20.



Kong, Lily, and Justin O’Connor, eds. 2009. Creative Economies, Creative Cities: Asian-European Perspectives. London: Springer. Kusno, Abidin. 2010. The Appearance of Memory: Mnemonic Practices of Architecture and Urban Form in Indonesia. Durham and London: Duke University Press. Landry, Charles. 2006. The Art of City-Making. London and Sterling: Earthscan. ———. 2008. The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators. 2nd ed. London and Sterling: Earthscan. Lee, Hye-Kyung. 2018. Introduction: Understanding of the Cultural and Creative Industries in Asia. In Routledge Handbook of Cultural and Creative Industries in Asia, ed. Lorraine Lim and Hye-Kyung Lee, 1–10. London and New York: Routledge. Liinamaa, Saara. 2016. The House of the Unknown Artist and the Cosmopolitan Imagination of Urban Memory. European Journal of Cultural Studies 19 (6): 654–671. M.E. 2017. [Cartoon]. Buletin Mutiara, August 1–15, 2017, 2. McGuigan, Jim. 2009. Cool Capitalism. New York: Pluto Press. Pagh, Christian, and Ida Vesterdal. 2008. Planning the Unplannable: A Perspective on the Crucial Link Between Culture and City Making. In Changing Metropolis: Introducing Artistic and Cultural Actions in City Making, ed. Christian Pagh and Ida Vesterdal, 6–11. Copenhagen: VIA Design. Stasiewicz-Bienkowska, Agnieszka. 2014. Meaningful Connections: Digital Media, Social Networks and the Experience of Space and Place. In Digital Diversities: Social Media and Intercultural Experience, ed. Garry Robson and Malgorzata Zachara, 74–90. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. The Star. 2017. Festival to End with a Big Bang. August 25, 2017 (Star Metro North section), 12. UNESCO. 2008. Melaka and George Town, Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca. van Dijck, Jose. 2007. Mediated Memories in the Digital Age. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Yaacob, Zainulfaqar. 2017. Joe Sidek Harap GTF Jadi Kekuatan Malaysia ke Asia Tenggara [Joe Sidek Hopes George Town Festival Could Strengthen Malaysia’s Position in Southeast Asia]. Buletin Mutiara, August, 1–15, 28.


A Humble Creative City: Tainan City as a Case Study of Culture-led and Community-supported Transformation of a Historical City Jiun-Yi Wu

Introduction This chapter draws on a historical city, Tainan City, in the southwest of Taiwan as a case study. It demonstrates that traditional (as opposed to modern) amenities play a prominent role in attracting ‘creative class’ and have a critical impact on local creative industries. Local culture, including ways of life, traditional crafts, heritage cultural assets, is an irreplaceable element in the development of cultural and creative industries (CCIs), contributing to the formation and/or the transformation of a historical city into a ‘creative city’. This case study also reveals a critical role played by the local communities/residents in the formulation of creative atmosphere.

J.-Y. Wu (*) Department of Sociology, Centre for Culture and the Creative Industries, City, University of London, London, UK e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 X. Gu et al. (eds.), Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia,



J.-Y. WU

Cities are often deemed as key sites for CCIs (Scott 1999). It has been noted that large metropolitan cities are more likely to attract clusters of CCIs (Kong and O’Connor 2009). The concentration of CCIs, in most cases, has become a key indicator for the success of local economic development (O’Connor and Gu 2010). This includes the ability for cities to attract and sustain ‘footloose’ creative class (Florida 2012). It is believed that new and modern amenities are important infrastructures for cities aimed at attracting global capitals and their affiliated creative class. The notions of creative cities and creative class, originally developed within a Western context, have significant impacts on Taiwan’s local economic development policy. The economic potentials of CCIs have been valued as the most important growth factor for Taiwan’s economy by the central government. And ‘Creative Cities’ has become a hype in local policy making and has been valued as a panacea to tackle various urban problems. The popular approaches include building modern cultural amenities and repurposing abandoned spaces for cultural and creative uses. What’s interesting about the experience of Taiwanese cities is how tradition and historical contexts have been given the priority in the re-imagining of creative city. That is, how local characteristics have been represented as strategies of ‘re-territorialisation’ within the policy framework of creative cities, avoiding the tendency for ‘de-territorialisation’ caused by the globalisation of creative industries. A fine example of re-territorialisation is the capital city—Taipei, which has been regarded as the most successful creative city in Taiwan. Its urban regeneration initiatives, such as Urban Regeneration Station (URS)1 (Urban Regeneration Office, Taipei City Government 2011) has been considered as a unique Creative Cities’ approach, with a strong emphasis on local communities and their cultural norms. Taipei was also crowned as the World Design Capital in 2016. In Tainan City, the notions of CCIs and creative cities have also been applied to boost local economy, with an emphasis on revitalising redundant city spaces. However, comparing to other Taiwanese cities, Tainan’s creative cities development model is driven by local communities instead of by local or national governments. Based on interviews with creative practitioners, I argue that local culture and community engagement should be placed at the centre of creative cities development model for second tier cities like Tainan. Without investing heavily in modern cultural infrastructures, Tainan City focuses instead on the aesthetic meanings of



existing cultural infrastructures. It is also a community-centred approach that attracts extra-local creative class by a strong sense of ‘the local’.

A Peripheral Role for Culture? The notions of CCIs, creative cities and creative class have become a hype in Asia in the last decade or so, however, majority of the studies regarding these topics, even until recently, is still pretty much based on the Western experiences (He and Wang 2019). Thus, the distinct development of CCIs and creative cities in Asia requires further studies. In academia, there are growing calls for an awareness of distinct contextual situations (Pratt 2010) and a multi-scalar understanding (He and Wang 2019) of creative city making. This chapter aims to contribute to this emerging trend. With regard to a multi-scalar understanding, the focuses of CCIs and creative cities are primarily concerned with two dimensions—economy and urban planning. Douglass (2016) argues that creative community has been targeted as a cultural economy strategy to revitalise cities in Asia. And Kim (2017) indicates that the creative city policy has been applied as an urban planning policy in Asian countries with an aim to revitalise cities in order to accommodate creative industries. The understanding and application of the concepts of CCIs and creative cities has become a more entrepreneurial and instrumental approach (Hesmondhalgh and Pratt 2005). This chapter explores the alternative perspective with a focus on local culture and communities, not on economic or any other instrumental gains. Such approach can be traced in literature to creative cities or city development. Landry (2008), for example, argues that a creative city is one can be responsive to unexpected changes. Similar concept, like the notion of Slow City movement (Mayer and Knox 2006) places focus more on local factors than adhering to global standards. This chapter sits within this context and argues that such focus on local culture does not play a supporting or peripheral role in the processes of development of CCIs and creative cities. Instead, local culture and communities generate values that can be vital for a city to be flourishing with creativities. In terms of contextual differences, researchers have reminded us to be cautious when translating the notions or transplanting the so-called successful experiences or models of creative cities and CCIs from countries or


J.-Y. WU

cities with distinct contexts (Oakley 2009; Pratt 2010; Kong and O’Connor 2009). The issue is that the application may not be able to respond to different cultural contexts and values. By valuing local contexts, we may be able to prevent ‘Silicon Somewhere’ model (Landry 2008) and identify distinct characteristics for a city to be creative in its own manner. In short, local culture and communities play an intrinsic role (Pratt 2008a, b; Comunian 2011) in the development of CCIs and formation of creative cities. Referring to the reasons that creative talents tend to cluster in specific localities, mutual accessibilities of workers and resources are the advantages of clustering (Scott 1999). Creative talents may also seek for job opportunities leading to co-­ location in specific cities/regions (Florida 2012) Thus, economic consideration is deemed as a crucial factor in terms of clustering of creative practitioners. However, practitioners in CCIs are also motivated by social and cultural values (Goodwin 2019) and soft infrastructure (Luckman 2012; O’Connor and Gu 2014). Thus, network and atmosphere may also matter instead of being peripheral to economic factor in terms of implementing creative cities policies.

Locating Tainan City and the Case Study Tainan City is one of six municipalities of Taiwan, locating in the southwest (Fig. 9.1). It is the sixth largest city of Taiwan, (Tourism Bureau of Tainan City Government 2018), regarding its population,2 which is formed by 34 administrative districts. Historically, apart from indigenous people who have inhabited the island prior to the Han Chinese, Tainan is the first political and economic centre of Taiwan dating back to seventeenth century. Tainan remained as the cultural, economic and political centre of Taiwan until the Japanese ruled the island in late nineteenth century. Specifically, the West Central District of Tainan City, which is the area this case study examines, used to be the first area that was developed since the Dutch came and occupied parts of the area as a base for global trading in seventeenth century. Although Taipei City takes over the role as the political and economic capital of Taiwan, Tainan City is still widely considered as the cultural capital of Taiwan for its’ prolonged history and rich culture. Temples constitute a key component of Tainan’s culture. A temple is not merely a religious site, but it is also where civic life has been embedded. Masters, skills, techniques and ceremonies related to temples are



Fig. 9.1  A blueprint artwork on Hai’an Road3

precious cultural assets of Tainan. In modern times, Tainan City has become an important industrial hubs of home appliances and garments. Although these industries have declined, some factories and skilled workers remain. Both the temple culture and industrial resources become attractions to creatives, as well as vital resources for creative practices. ‘Old House, New Life’ (Chien and Wu 2017) movement is a determining factor that has critical impacts on CCIs development of Tainan, as well as attracting creative class outside of the city. It is an attempt initiated and implemented by a local private organization, Foundation of Historic City Conservation and Regeneration, in 2008. The idea is to revitalise old residential houses, which have been under used or abandoned. The movement has become a success as the repurposed private residential houses have been reused as studios, archives spaces, galleries, boutique shops,


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hotels, café or restaurants, while the local residents are still living in the area. The movement has been positioned as a renaissance of civil living sites and spaces (Chang 2014). It aims not only to preserve and refurbish under used or abandoned residential houses across the city, but also to reopen those houses to local communities and a wider public with new possibilities for the public to experience culture of the city and the atmosphere and texture of the spaces. The movement also becomes a key attraction for creatives to relocate in the city. When it comes to the development of Tainan as a creative city, the transformation of Hai’an Road cannot be ignored. The Hai’an Street Museum project is an example carried out by a local arts organisation and commissioned by Tainan City Government. This project aims to revitalise a part of the Hai’an Road which has been turned into a huge construction site since the local government planned to develop underground shopping streets. Hai’an Road is at the heart of the West Central District, a culturally and financially vibrant area of Tainan City with a mixture of residential and commercial buildings. The underground shopping project has been proved to be a disaster for local residents because of severe delay and corruption and the destruction of residential houses. Furthermore, the local resident lost confidence in government since the landscape of this part of city was destroyed and they were forced out. The turning point to transform this part of the city and heal the pain of the local residents is the engagement of arts and creativity. The area has been revitalised and regained its attention from the public when the crumbling old houses alongside Hai’an Road were turned into canvas (West Central District Office, Tainan City 2019) by a group of creative practitioners. In 2003, a series of art projects, funded by Tainan City Government and aiming to improve the image of this part of the city were funded (Figs. 9.1 and 9.2). The arts director of a local organisation, who was also the curator of the government commissioned project and a local resident, invited artists to make artworks with/on/in the crumbling buildings, spaces or walls in order to beautify the environment of the area. This project transformed this part of the city and turned this area into a must-­visit destination of Tainan City where studios, shops, galleries, hotels, B&B, café and restaurants clustered.



Fig. 9.2  Artworks alongside Hai’an Road

The Intrinsic Value of Local Culture Since cultural and creative practitioners tend to be rather incentivised by social and cultural values than economic consideration, preferences of specific culture of a locality may be a vital factor in terms of location for where they would live and work. Tainan as a historical city offers a unique cultural field and atmosphere, which can be an attraction for creatives. Interviewees have consistently voted ‘local culture’ and ‘local lifestyle’ as top priorities for them when re-locating to Tainan. Culture also provides a rich nutrition for creative practices which in return enables creative practices to be embedded in the locality. This chapter further argues that the embedded nature of cultural and creative practices is an aspect that responds to an emerging awareness of distinct contexts in the discussion of CCIs and creative cities. Designers I interviewed have all identified an important creative exchange between ‘local culture’ and their ‘design’.


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The imperative role of local culture, which this chapter draws on, can be represented in two main dimensions, namely cultural assets (material) and cultural atmosphere (non-material). Since Tainan City is the oldest city of Taiwan and used to be the cultural, political and economic centre of Taiwan, its material culture is rich and diverse. For example, the city houses many historical monuments and temples, as well as old residential properties and objects. Furthermore, as a historical city, the physical landscape of the city is also distinct from modern cities, such as roads of the city are much narrower while the city centre has various small alleys where local culture has been cultivated and nurtured for generations. Temples are irreplaceable parts of local civil life and culture of Tainan City. They are not only religious sites, but also represent a unique temple culture that has become an attraction for creatives outside of Tainan City. Temple culture of Tainan City depicts physical buildings of temples, crafts skills and techniques related to the construction of a temple, ceremonies, immigration history, myths and folk tales and so on. Particularly, temple crafts such as woodcarving and painting are often applied to creative practices. These cultural assets become a dataset of cultural and creative practices which can be appealing to creatives. A designer shared with us her experiences of collaborating with local craft master: I was delighted that I can be recognized by the master and he can trust me and share with me his sketches. Thus, I can apply them to my product designs. (Product designer 1)

The other prominent cultural asset of Tainan City is its winding alleys where grassroot civil culture has been nurtured. Such cultural asset and field have been secured by a developmental trajectory without becoming a hub for heavy industries and financial centre. Apart from that, the urban regeneration and gentrification remain relatively slow as a result of accommodating various historical monuments in the city. Thus, the alleys of the city can be maintained. In recent years, with an upsurge of cultural and environmental protection awareness, these precious and unique cultural assets and fields are further maintained by both residents and creatives. The winding alleys of Tainan create an interesting aspect when exploring the city. I recall my memory when I was conducting fieldwork for this case study. It was surprising to encounter a large-scale temple at the end of a tiny winding alley where one would not expect. The hidden cultural



gems in the alleys also incorporate old scenes or objects like window frame with traditional patterns and old residential properties, etc. Particularly in the West Central District where it is the first developed area of the city, alleys of this district are rich with historical texture and old objects. For creative practitioners, the aesthetics of the spatial built forms provide them with rich inspiration. The repurposing of private-owned old residential houses plays a key role in attracting creative practitioners to locate in Tainan City. Old residential properties not only provide spaces for cultural and creative practices, but such spaces, which retain a unique texture and atmosphere that only exist in used spaces, are attractive to creatives. ‘I appreciate the texture of being used and the texture of time’, said an Architect who took part in an interview of this case study. Particularly, since these spaces are residential houses, the spaces were originally designed and built with consideration of living needs instead of business purposes. Thus, such spaces reflect the embedded nature of creative practices, individual living style, and creative identities. Old houses got a unique texture which only exists after being used. It also reveals human personality not utility. (Product designer 2)

Moreover, the historical and cultural texture of the old residential houses create a unique atmosphere, making these spaces ideal for creative practices. The embedded nature of creative practices means that these spaces can be inspirational to creatives. Fashion designers interviewed in this research highlighted how they took design inspirations from being immersed in the atmosphere of their studios. Regarding the intangible cultural aspects of the city, a different local lifestyle and living philosophy, i.e. a slower paced lifestyle is another key factor that attracts creative practitioners. As a historical city, Tainan has remained unchanged in various dimensions. The physical landscape has not undergone dramatic changes, and the pace of life is slower than the capital city, Taipei. The mixture of these factors generates a distinct atmosphere that creative practitioners appreciate as it provides creative practitioners with more spaces and time to reflect on their practices and thus further connect their practice with their everyday life. The slow-paced lifestyle of Tainan also enables creative practitioners to further explore and observe the city. Creatives, as a result, can connect


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with the locality and embed their practices in the city. For example, an interviewee mentioned: The living pace is slow, which is ideal for deep thinking … You have to be physically in the environment and then you would be able to experience the spirit of it. Once you have a sense of it, this would be embedded into your design practice. (Product designer 2)

Local Communities and Residents Creativity is a co-creation of internal and external factors (Scott 2006). In this case study, we identify the important role local communities and residents play in supporting production of creative practices. Practitioners are experimenting and collaborating with the locals to create different possibilities for the city. An example is the Hai’an Street Museum project. A critical factor that makes this project successful is the connection between the artworks and the local context, and the engagement of local residents. The interviewee said: We told artists about the local context before we started making artworks … for example one of the artists brought her students with her to interview local people asking local peoples’ thoughts on Hai’an Road such as its’ history, presence and its future … We became closer to the local residents and this enhances our connection with the locality … each of the works got its contextual background and meaning. It was not just painting something on a wall. (Arts director)

The creative practitioners who participated in this project had to understand the local context before they commenced their creation. By so doing, the creativity can link with local contexts rather than simply cast practitioners’ personal ideas or creativity onto the places and the city. Such local understanding and context have been achieved by working with residents to know their stories and perspectives of the area. This chapter further emphasises the importance of mutual respect and appreciation in terms of the formation of a positive relationship between creatives and local communities and residents. For creative practitioners, showing respect and appreciation to local culture, history and communities is important. An interviewee described his attitude of situating in the city:



In order to immerse and integrate yourself to the locality, you should be kind when you move in, and then the locals would see your kindness and understand that you do influence the area (in a positive way). (Product designer 2)

The respect and appreciation can also be represented by creative practices where practitioners respect local history and culture and take them into consideration for the production of creative products or services. An interviewee recalled his design thinking of a reused building which used to be a department store when Taiwan was ruled by the Japanese: Like Lin department, I claimed that it should be a department store which it used to be. And I also suggested that the sale category for each floor should be the same as it was in the past, and even windows should be transparent like it used to be, not covered up like department stores we have nowadays. (Architect)

Referring to residents’ role in attracting creatives, respect and appreciation for creative practitioners and their practices can be seen from their participation and engagement with processes of creative works production (as discussed above), as well as their caring for the creatives. Particularly, the caring is extraordinarily important as creative practitioners working in CCIs, which is often regarded as volatile (McGuigan 2010), are facing employment insecurity (Goodwin 2019) and increasing precarious working conditions (Gill and Pratt 2008; Ocejo 2017; Avdikos and Iliopoulou 2019). This has been an important factor in sustaining creatives and their practices in the city.

Conclusion This chapter draws on a case study of Tainan City and highlights a cultural aspect of creative cities development rather than the economic or urban planning perspectives. The case study argues, apart from holding mega events, building cultural infrastructures or technology application, that locality plays a prominent role in the processes of transforming a historical city into one flourishing with creativity. Locality, in this case study, represents local cultural assets, cultural field and atmosphere, local communities/residents and lifestyle.


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Tainan City’s material cultural assets such as old residential houses, temples, historical alleys and old objects form a distinct cultural field. Along with local lifestyle, the cultural atmosphere of Tainan City becomes an attraction for creatives to live and work in the city. This chapter also argues that local contexts are pivotal. Distinct contextual situations have been receiving an increasing attention in debates and discussions on CCIs and creative cities. However, this is a difficult issue for most Asian cities that are copying a global creative cities development model based on understanding of the Western contexts. As I have argued, emulation or translation without considering distinct contexts is problematic. In this case study of Tainan City, I am providing evidences to what constitutes as the vital local cultural assets for a successful envisage of creative cities in Asia. This chapter also asserts the important role that local communities and residents play in attracting creatives. The case study demonstrates how a positive relationship can be established by mutual respect and appreciation between creatives and local residents. For creative practitioners, showing respects and appreciation to local history and culture is intrinsic. On the one hand, by so doing, creatives may be able to explore and understand more about the locality from the locals. On the other hand, this may enable creative practices to be further embedded. For local residents, the participation and engagement with the production of creative works is a supporting and welcoming gesture to creatives to live and work in the locality. The caring for the lives of creative practitioners also provides an evolutionary context for growth and development beyond economic means. Overall, this chapter argues for a rather bottom-up and embedded approach of understanding and/or cultivating creative cities instead of a top-down approach that focuses on holding mega events or building cultural infrastructure aiming to attract more visitors or investment. Moreover, I argue that the making and formation of a creative city can be and should be achieved by creative class and the local residents.

Notes 1. “URS is established to create a new urban forum and opportunities for public participation … The space can be used as workshops, a common place for neighborhood activities, a public space for social interaction, a venue for exhibitions, etc….” Available at



Content.aspx?n=44CAA2187123464E&s=A3D67422D686660E (Assessed: 16 August 2019). 2. Data origin: Dept. of Household Registration, Taiwan. Available at https:// (Assessed: 5 May 2019). 3. Data origin: OUSTUDIO’s blog. Available at http://oustudio.blogspot. com/2009/05/2004.html (Assessed: 22 April 2019).

References Avdikos, Vasilis, and Eirini Iliopoulou. 2019. Community-Led Coworking Spaces: From Co-location to Collaboration and Collectivization. In Creative Hubs in Question, ed. Rosalind Gill, Andy C.  Pratt, and Tarek E.  Virani, 111–129. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. Chang, Yu-Huang. 2014. Old House, New Life: History and Challenges of a Renaissance of Civil Spaces. Architectural Institute of Taiwan Magazine 37: 46–51. Chien, Hui-Chung, and Lien-Shang Wu. 2017. A Study on the Attractive Attributes Evaluation of ‘Old House, New Life’ for Old Five Channels Cultural Zone, Tainan: A Reconsideration. Journal of Tung Fang Design University 37: 1–15. Comunian, Roberta. 2011. Rethinking the Creative City: The Role of Complexity, Networks and Interactions in the Urban Creative Economy. Urban Studies 48 (6): 1157–1179. Douglass, Mike. 2016. Creative Communities and the Cultural Economy— Insadong, Chaebol Urbanism and the Local State in Seoul. Cities 56: 148–155. Florida, Richard. 2012. The Rise of the Creative Class-Revisited. New  York: Basic Books. Gill, Rosalind, and Andy Pratt. 2008. In the Social Factory?: Immaterial Labour, Precariousness and Cultural Work. Theory, Culture and Society 25 (7–8): 1–30. Goodwin, Kim. 2019. Developing Self-Efficacy and Career Optimism Through Participation in Communities of Practice Within Australian Creative Industries. Australian Journal of Career Development 28 (2): 122–131. He, Shenjing, and Jun Wang. 2019. State-led Creative/Cultural City Making and its Contestations in East Asia: A Multi-Scalar Analysis of the Entrepreneurial State and the Creative Class. Geoforum 106: 305–309. Hesmondhalgh, David, and Andy C. Pratt. 2005. Cultural Industries and Cultural Policy. International Journal of Cultural Policy 11 (1): 1–13. Kim, Changwook. 2017. Locating Creative City Policy in East Asia: Neoliberalism, Developmental State and Assemblage of East Asian Cities. International Journal of Cultural Policy 23 (3): 312–330. Kong, L., J. O’Connor, and ProQuest (Firm). 2009. Creative Economies, Creative Cities: Asian-European Perspectives. London; Dordecht: Springer.


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Landry, Charles. 2008. The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators. London: Comedia. Luckman, Susan. 2012. Locating Cultural Work: The Politics and Poetics of Rural, Regional and Remote Creativity. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Mayer, Heike, and Paul L. Knox. 2006. Slow Cities: Sustainable Places in a Fast World. Journal of Urban Affairs 28 (4): 321–334. McGuigan, Jim. 2010. Creative Labour, Cultural Work and Individualisation. International Journal of Cultural Policy 16 (3): 323–335. O’Connor, Justin, and Xin Gu. 2010. Developing a Creative Cluster in a Postindustrial City: CIDS and Manchester. The Information Society 26 (2): 124–136. ———. 2014. Creative Industry Clusters in Shanghai: A Success Story? International Journal of Cultural Policy 20 (1): 1–20. Oakley, Kate. 2009. Getting Out of Place: The Mobile Creative Class Takes on the Local. A UK Perspective on the Creative Class. In Creative Economies, Creative Cities, ed. Lily Kong and Justin O’Connor, 121–134. Dordrecht: Springer. Ocejo, Richard E. 2017. Masters of Craft: Old Jobs in the New Urban Economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Pratt, Andy C. 2008a. Creative Cities? Urban Design Journal 105. ———. 2008b. Creative Cities: The Cultural Industries and the Creative Class. Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography 90 (2): 107–117. ———. 2010. Creative Cities: Tensions Within and Between Social, Cultural and Economic Development. City, Culture and Society 1 (1): 13–20. Scott, Allen J. 1999. The Cultural Economy: Geography and the Creative Field. Media, Culture and Society 21 (6): 807–817. ———. 2006. Creative Cities: Conceptual Issues and Policy Questions. Journal of Urban Affairs 28 (1): 1–17. The West Central District office, Tainan City. 2019. The Five Harbours Cultural Park.{1FC9DAB8-924D4D17-8261-D084FC1457A2}. Tourism Bureau of Tainan City Government. 2018. Seeing Tainan. https://www. Urban Regeneration Office, Taipei City Government. 2011. Urban Regeneration Stations (URSs). AA2187123464E&s=A3D67422D686660E.


Creative Cities and Creative Industries


From Rubble to the Korean Wave Hub: The Making of the New Digital Media City in Seoul Jun-Min Song and Yu-Min Joo

Introduction In the early 2000s, Digital Media City (DMC) has gained much attention as the world’s first high-tech complex with ‘smart’ streets, layering urban fabrics with digital technologies. Built on an official waste disposal site of Seoul, the DMC had a vision to become a new pioneering urban center of innovative digital and media industries with state-of-the art information technology (IT) infrastructure. Despite its reputation as a high-tech digital space, it is now more well-known as the hub of the Korean Wave (also known as Hallyu), at least in South Korea (Korea hereafter). While the novel ideas then of providing wireless communication infrastructure

J.-M. Song (*) JACOPS Planning & Design, Seoul, South Korea e-mail: [email protected] Y.-M. Joo KDI School of Public Policy and Management, Seoul, South Korea e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 X. Gu et al. (eds.), Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia,




everywhere (including public spaces) and its key projects like the InfoBooths providing a real-time virtual guide have become either commonplace or technologically obsolete today, DMC’s focus on the media industries has led to solidifying its image as the center of popular Korean culture. Key media and entertainment (M&E) industries that are closely related to the Korean Wave are now concentrated in DMC.  It houses Korea’s representative public broadcasting companies (e.g., MBC, SBS, KBS), large conglomerate companies in entertainment, including film and animation (e.g., CJ E&M, Seoul Animation Centre), and the three major Korean newspaper companies (Cho-Joong-Dong). This chapter focuses on the development of DMC and its exemplification of how the Korean Wave—which began as an intangible cultural product—has been translated into tangible urban formation. The term Hallyu was coined by the Chinese media in the mid-1990s to describe the sudden popularity of Korean popular cultural products in China (Hogarth 2013), including Korean television dramas, Korean pop music, movies and their associated celebrities. More recently, food, fashion, and even the Korean style of cosmetic surgery have become part of Hallyu (Visser 2002) and influenced other parts of Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, Europe, and the US. As a result, the Korean Wave has had significant impact on the Korean economy through increased exports (not only in intangible cultural products such as Korean TV contents and pop music but also in tangible products of fashion, food, cosmetics, and cosmetic surgery) and tourism (Yu et al. 2005; Shin 2006; Kim 2006; Pang et al. 2007; KOFICE 2009). Despite the success in cultural exports, the Korean Wave phenomenon has been rarely studied through the lens of creative cities and urban development. One notable exception is Oh’s article (2014) on how the Korean Wave has been used by cities in neglected regions, hoping to attract tourism by opening themselves to the Korean drama production to leverage on its popularity. However, what remains unexplored is the role of Korean Wave in the urban development and policy domains of Seoul—the cultural, economic and political hub of Korea, and probably its biggest beneficiary. To fill this gap of knowledge, this chapter examines DMC’s utilisation of the Korean Wave as a foundation for promoting, financing and marketing a new type of cultural infrastructure in Seoul. This chapter aims to understand the top-down policy-mediation of the making of this ‘brand new’ creative cluster with visions from grassroots movement of



the Korean Wave. In doing so, it attempts to investigate how creativity can be translated into perimeters of ‘creative cities.’ Can DMC support creative urban environments for creative industries that have always been sustained in highly commercialised environment? What values and challenges will this attempt generate?

Creative Cities and Policies The creative cities rhetoric emerges out of specific post-industrial urban and political context in the developed West. Many post-industrial cities that can no longer rely on the Fordist manufacturing for growth and are in a need to embrace the new economy—where quality matters more than cost (Scott 2006)—readily welcome Florida’s creative class proposition (2002). Florida argues that young professionals engaged in creative, knowledge-­intensive, and innovative work are what cities need to move towards a more highvalue added economy. Instead of focusing on firms and how to attract them, the creative class theory shifted the focus to people (more precisely global talents). Therefore, the policy implication of the theory is that city governments should focus on providing an urban environment that attracts the creative class. Although Florida underscores diversity, openness, and tolerance as the key urban atmosphere required to attract the young, talented and skilled workers (Florida 2002), cities often look for more concrete strategies that involve physical interventions to highlight cultural and other high-quality urban amenities, which more often than not, has led to gentrified urban areas and exacerbated social inequalities (Peck 2005; Miles and Paddison 2005; Evans 2009; Scott 2006). In addition to the social problems raised, Scott (2006) argues that attracting creative class alone is not enough to sustain creativity in a city. Improving the local production system is also necessary to provide adequate employment opportunities to the creative class and maintain them in the city (Scott 2006). Cluster modelling is also one of the policy solutions in building such local production system that is embedded in the local context. However, it is difficult to achieve successful cluster development of creative industries with policy interventions. The creative cluster agendas often fail to consider how creative industries operate (Jayne 2005) and tend to rely primarily on physical developments, even leading to real estate speculations as seen in the case of China (Keane 2009). As Pratt (2008: 35) claims, ‘A creative city cannot be founded like a cathedral in the dessert: it needs to be linked to and be part of an existing cultural



environment.’ However, many cities striving to transform their economy via cluster policies tend to do just that in reality. Despite the difficulties and questionable results in achieving creative cluster via policy intervention, the creative city policy transfer has been ‘accelerated by the lack of alternative strategies and sustainable growth options in [the] post-industrial cities, [and] attracted by the celebrated exemplars and visions of a ‘digital city utopia’ (Evans 2009: 1032). Indeed, the concept of creative city has been a key export from the developed West to a number of post-industrialising cities in Asia like Singapore (Ho 2009), Shanghai (Zhong 2011), Hong Kong (Create Hong Kong 2013), Osaka (Sasaki 2010) and Seoul (Lee and Hwang 2012), to name a few. Some of the East Asian cities, which have had experiences of strong state-led industrialisation and urban development could face more difficulty in finding new approaches to becoming a creative city that would involve even further radical transformations in their policy. In fact, they tend to continue to rely on physical constructions and tourism promotion in their latest adoption of creative city policies (Lee and Hwang 2012; Perera and Tang 2013). DMC is a good example of this. It is a key investment from the Seoul Metropolitan Government focusing on physical infrastructure construction (Lee and Hwang 2012). Aside from the physical development however, DMC also carefully planned and designed its cluster policy to attract M&E companies with an eye to building a creative cluster in an underdeveloped landfill site that used to hold the city’s garbage up to 1993. Henceforth, it is necessary to discuss more on the creative clusters in the creative city discourse to set the stage for the case study.

Creative Clusters in the Creative City Discourse With the growing interest in the potential of creativity and cultural and creative industries (CCIs) for urban revitalisation (Montgomery 2008), cultural-creative cluster policy has gradually received attention in urban cultural policy, with an emphasis on community needs (Oldenburg 1989), the effect of social networks, tacit knowledge and trust relationships (see Fukuyama 1996; Landry 2000; Florida 2002). There has also been a shift in the key concepts revolving around creative city discourse since around the 1980s—from ‘culture’ to ‘creative’ and then to ‘innovation’ (where ‘smart’ has become a cognate of innovation, albeit being more hybrid in its usage). Even the concept that creativity implies has been changed and diversified. For example, although



Landry’s (2000) publication involved many cultural contexts, he brought the term ‘creative’ to the centre from arts- and culture-led urban regeneration and emphasised culture-centred creativity. Florida (2002) argues that bringing creativity closer to an economic agenda results in a mixed field of technological, organisational and economic benefit. Further, within the place-based development approach, the popularity of Porter’s idea of economic business cluster developments (see Porter 1998) brings the concept of the creative cluster to the industrial policy circle, involving a wider field of industries, such as science-and-technology-based sectors (Mommaas 2009). Hans Mommaas (2009) suggests a necessary differentiation in the concept of creative cluster. First, he asserts how ‘creative’ sets the creative cluster apart from other industrial or business clustering—it is an ‘artistic’ concept formed through the interrelation of culture and economy. Second, creative cluster indicates a broader concept of cultural creativity, which also engages with ‘applied’ or entrepreneurial fields such as ‘design, fashion, the media, leisure and entertainment, cultural tourism or mixtures between them’ (2009: 56). Third, it indicates technological, scientific or economic ideas of creativity. Each type contains unique conditions in terms of the functioning of clusters. Thus, how these particular types and industries might productively be connected to other technological and business clusters without losing their original qualities, needs to be considered. For these reasons, analysis of creative clusters must include not only economic and social contribution but also a consideration as to how such types of industries fit in with the wide-ranging cultural context of the city or region (Pratt 2008). DMC starts off from this wide-ranging cultural context of Korea, as it leverages on the rise of the Korean Wave at the time. In particular, the Korean Wave showcases how a commitment to economic development and to culture is not mutually exclusive (interview with Kim,1 2014). Rather than focusing on the generally sought-after arts and culture, DMC aggressively targets the ‘applied’ fields of M&E, keeping in mind the potential of the Korean Wave and hoping to create a successful business cluster. In this chapter, we illustrate how DMC’s ambitious goal of developing a creative cluster—an entire new city district on a highly underutilised land area of 570,000 square meters in Seoul—materialises under the government’s top-down development strategy.



Korean Wave at the Heart of DMC DMC was developed as part of the ‘Sangnam New Millennium City’, located in the Northwestern part of Seoul facing the Han River. Before the development of DMC, the area was an official waste disposal site (from 1978 to 1993) and was referred to as Nanjido (Nan for lily; Ji for mushroom; Do for island). Nanjido accumulated immense amounts of wastes amid Seoul’s rapid economic growth, creating two ‘mountains’ of garbage that were over 96 metres, accumulating 92 million square metres of waste (The Media Valley Corporation et  al. 2001). The Nanjido landfill was closed down in 1993, and its ‘stabilisation’ project began in 1996 when Korea won the bid to host the 2002 FIFA World Cup Games. The project sought to rebuild the landfill area as an environmentally friendly district (cf. SI, 2002), including Seoul World Cup Stadium and five World Cup Parks. In 1998, SMG announced the ‘New Seoul Town Development Plan’ for the area, along with its master plan, the ‘Sangnam New Millennium City’ that was finalised in 1999. The DMC project was an outcome of extensive cooperation between Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG), local organisations, planners and invited experts from abroad. The Seoul Institute and SMG created the DMC planning team, which worked with the advice received from international advisory group (including Dennis Frenchman and Bill Mitchell from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and corporate executives at global firms such as Accenture and Hillwood, Strategic Services to develop the Digital Media City Basic Plan (SI, 2002). Media Valley Corporation was contracted to provide advice on development strategies and detailed implementation, marketing and promotion strategies (The Media Valley Corporation et al. 2001), and a number of local private corporations were also engaged in the implementation process. DMC is the first and largest M&E cluster in Korea. As of April 2019, DMC has hosted 295 companies in M&E contents industries including broadcasting, newspaper, game, film,  and animation, 214 companies in the IT and software sectors, and 29 companies in the nanotechnology and biotechnology sectors. This produces a total of 39,710 creative workers2 in the DMC, cementing its place as the nation’s first creative cluster. DMC is a collective model of clustering that combines business and industrial development goals with cultural and creative objectives. DMC was largely made up of a technology- and industry-based environment



with a ‘pick and mix’ selection of CCIs. With the aim of making Seoul a global city, together with an attempt to create a distinctiveness derived from locality, the planners of DMC identified and targeted the Korean Wave and its related industries. This vision turns out to be accurate considering the ongoing upsurge of Korean Wave across the world in the M&E industry. In 2013, Korea’s CCIs was valued at USD 85.5 billion3 (CCTV SEARCH 2014), which was a huge jump from USD 328 million in 2001 (MCT 2002). DMC’s focus on M&E and its approach to nurture a soft infrastructure stems from a strong demand in the policy circles to make a new turn towards cultural policy in Korea, after decades of its focus on manufacturing-­ based heavy-chemical industrialisation. While culture had long been neglected in Seoul during its prioritisation of industrialisation, the importance of culture in post-industrial economy began to resurface in the late 1990s. For example, in 1999—when the DMC project was being envisioned—the national government had then just introduced the Culture Industry Promotion Law (which was amended in 2002), as part of the five-year plan for ‘The Development of the Cultural Content Industry’ (Hui 2007). The rise of IT and software at the time presented further possibilities in the form of an explicit policy aspiration to combine the capabilities of technology and culture (Kwon and Kim 2013). Terms like ‘Modulator of Value Creation’ and ‘Amplifier of Knowledge Industry’ were used in the marketing of DMC at the time (Kang 2010) to reflect the aspirations for the new economy. Readily seizing on the opportunity to see ‘culture’ as being commercially viable and a direct means to achieve new economic development, the DMC planning team and scholars convened to determine the kinds of creative cluster that would define DMC and would reflect the application of creative clusters policy from the West. Instead of developing cultural facilities (e.g., galleries, museums and concert halls) and designing them with contemporary and eye-catching architecture, the team—inspired by the Korean Wave—‘creatively’ pursued the digital and M&E industries that could be combined to create a culture-intensive, and an industry- and commerce-intensive creative cluster. DMC was thus planned to promote diverse cultural events including Korean-Wave-related festivals and TV shows, which would organically bring in tourists and fans that could boost commercial traffic (interview with Lee 2011). In addition to identifying M&E as the key industries, the Korean Wave provided another source of inspiration among the planning team members. During their discussions, they elaborated on how the Korean



Wave  could reflect the economic success of a cultural product when Western culture was adopted and reproduced with an Asian flavor and context. They believed that unlike traditional Korean culture, the popular Korean culture that has brought the Korean Wave was a modified and transformed version of the Western culture (e.g., music, drama, movies) to reflect the Korean culture and Asian values for the Korean (and later Asian and the global) market. It was a ‘localised’ recreation of the Western culture, and similarly, they envisioned the development of DMC as a recalibrated and modified development strategy that originated from the West—such as the cluster development and the promotion of CCIs—in the Korean context (interview with Kim 2014). Some of the examples displaying the ‘localisation’ of the cluster development concept are: the focus on the local M&E industries (related to the Korean Wave) for the creative cluster, leveraging on large local conglomerates in building the cluster, and its top-down approach to development. In short, the DMC project is a confluence of government aspiration, the rise of digital media as a global trend, and the conditions extrapolated from the emerging local creative industry and local contexts—all under the influence of or related to the Korean Wave (Fig. 10.1).

Fig. 10.1  DMC © Junmin Song, 2014



The Making of a Brand new Creative Cluster The top-down development approach to creative clusters has its benefits in developing a new creative cluster at a city-district scale on a previous garbage dumpsite. It allows DMC to progress and adhere to the master plan without much deviation, and thereby helping create a clear identity and successfully attracting CCIs and their workers to the cluster. All the strategies—especially those on attracting companies—are kept within the concept of DMC as an M&E and IT cluster. In its early stage of development, DMC first sought to relocate major domestic companies in the M&E and IT sectors as ‘magnet’ and ‘flagship’ companies, closely following its vision to become the hub of the Korean Wave and related cultural contents. These flagship companies were expected to enhance the image of DMC and help attract other large and small companies in the same industries (The Media Valley Corporation et al. 2001). Incentives—such as low land prices were offered to the core companies in the M&E and IT sectors (Byeon 2014), which included MBC Broadcasting Company, LG CNS, and CJ E&M among others. At the same time, planners have also foreseen that these anchor companies might just take advantage of the incentives offered and then pursue speculative real estate interests4 (interview with Byeon 2014). As such, they have set a minimum stay of ten years for these companies before they could sell the property and relocate elsewhere, so that DMC can have more stability (ibid). The forecast is that in ten years, DMC will be able to function as an endogenously sustainable cluster. After having successfully attracted a few flagship CCI companies, efforts to attract small, medium-sized companies and start-ups soon followed. For example, office spaces are provided in the form of a heavily subsidised rent for one or two years in DMC. They are selected through a competitive process using strict criteria based on their performance. Other supportive strategies to entice the companies include providing venture capital investments, various networking events, meeting venues, and open spaces to create occasions to cooperate with large enterprises and among themselves (interview with Park 2014). DMC planners also encourage spontaneous resident exchange as a significant part of the original plan to establish a creative milieu and not just an agglomeration of businesses (Flew 2010).



With these policy efforts, DMC has begun to show signs of creative cluster formation even with some limitations. The big ‘anchor’ companies help shape the image of DMC as the leading M&E hub in Korea, while small and medium M&E enterprises and start-ups in the cluster have started to develop and benefit from DMC’s social and institutional networks, valuing the interaction and exchange of ideas. One respondent from a start-up comments, It is good to network with people as a start-up because I can learn the know-­ how, discuss the law of policy and the latest technology trends, and secure diverse points of views as to whether there are missing parts in my work (interview with Song 2014).

However, the story may be different for large companies. A manager from CJ E&M explains that there is not enough time to do any activities or ‘experience’ the DMC district: As soon as I go to work in the morning, except for the times I have my lunch and breakfast, I am stuck in my office (interview with Ahn 2014).

These interviews are also supported by a study conducted by Choi (2013), which surveys the satisfaction of cluster networks in DMC. The study reveals that the satisfaction level of DMC start-ups is above average, while it is below average for large companies. Creative workers from both large and small companies express that there is no adequate tangible and intangible cultural environment in the DMC district. As the DMC planning and policy strategies are centred on attracting the right kinds of businesses, the effort to increase the cultural profile and to nurture the intricate dynamics of the cultural-creative field in DMC is less enthusiastic. One of the interviewees elaborates, There is no place for cultural life here in DMC. I think this place is for business rather than creation. I prefer to work where I can enjoy a high quality of high-end cultural life. It may be important to have things near my work place that I usually consume. In order to establish a man made cityscape, what can be more important than culture and cultural spaces? It is not about media-related facilities but culture. Media infrastructure is merely for professionals. However, good cultural facilities and creative environment will attract not only ordinary people but also people in media industries (interview with Ahn 2014).



In this sense, DMC as a planned district is designed primarily to serve the government’s goal for economic and urban development of Seoul. In building the creative cluster, the government and DMC planners have designed a business-focused district that puts the cultural dimension in the background. Framed around a strong cultural identity of the Korean Wave, DMC is often used as a shooting location for dramas and films, and a venue for festivals and events that invite Korean pop-stars and celebrities ( 2014; Song 2016). However, these cultural activities are meant to increase the visibility of DMC as the Korean Wave hub rather than to pursue and nurture intrinsic values of culture. Byeon Chang-heum, chief executive officer of Korea Land and Housing Corporation who was part of the planning team, further explains, The excessive commercialisation of ‘newly made’ culture cannot be culture; rather, it is a commodity. In the process of building new community, the non-commercialised cultural aspect is necessary and becomes a source of creativity. Both commercialised and non-commercialised culture need to be balanced (interview with Byeon 2014).

This balance is not yet achievable in reality based on the case of DMC. While the Korean Wave has significantly helped DMC grow in size, the perception of culture as an attractive economic growth commodity in the Korean Wave phenomenon could have diminished the promotion of non-commercialised art and culture. Considering that DMC is a creative cluster that aims to generate creative outcome, a stimulating and inspirational environment is necessary. In particular, when the targeted users are creative people, cultural resources become even more important. DMC needs to find ways to build its own unique qualities as the Korean Wave hub with a more balanced growth in commodified and non-­commercialised culture to sustain such creative cluster in the long-run. Lastly, gentrification can affect the cluster’s long-term sustainability. As the government builds world-class business facilities in DMC and attracts major M&E companies to the area, the real estate values increase rapidly. Both commercial and residential properties in the district have increased their rents significantly, and the turnover of retail shops and residents in the district is also too fast to form a strong social network with meaningful and trust-based interactions (SBS CNBC 2014).



Creativity needs to be understood as something that comes from the development and interactions of diverse lifestyle cultures with a preference for various kinds of environments to live and work (Kong and O’Connor 2010). For a fully working ‘creative’ cluster, the focus should not only be on the concentration of M&E industries. While they have benefited from government subsidies, the question is whether these industries will remain in the cluster if the rent subsidy were to stop. As DMC has managed to emerge as the Korean Wave hub over the past decade or so,5 the next stage of DMC development should be geared towards making it a place that can organically grow to nurture creativity and attract creative workers for its unique and culturally rich environment in order to become a truly ‘creative milieu’.

Conclusion DMC’s version of the creative cluster combines both culture-intensive and industry- and commerce-intensive creative industries. It employs the globally shared concepts of creative talent, CCIs, active networking and interactions to be found in the concept of cluster, and supportive elements of good city infrastructures (Florida 2002; Landry 2000). However, what particularly stood out in the case of DMC is its specific identification with the Korean Wave that has begun to develop a strong cultural identity in the global marketplace. Instead of the often emphasised development of cultural infrastructure and facilities in creative city policies, DMC focuses on building a cluster of digital and M&E industries. Such clear strategy has shaped DMC’s unique identity as a creative cluster of M&E and contents-­related industries and transformed a dumpsite into a well-functioning cluster. The vision of DMC, guided by the Korean Wave, has created its unique model of a brand new creative cluster that fits into both local and global economy, and has resulted in pushing DMC’s development away from its very early techno-utopia visions of a media cluster. The infrastructure-­ based strategy that aims to develop a mediated urban place with cutting-­ edge technology proves to be highly problematic. Information technology and its application in society has changed dramatically since the beginning of the twenty-first century, and many of the new and innovative technologies at the time DMC was being planned have become outdated by the



time DMC was completed. In today’s smart-phone age, the technologies that have been ‘innovatively’ embedded in the DMC district are neither practical nor feasible. Amidst the difficulties of achieving techno-vision, the strength of the ongoing phenomenon of the Korean Wave and its related industries has brought the much-needed strategic clarity to the DMC planners and the government. In short, DMC is developed with strong policy interventions from the government that is driven by an economic-centred approach in the creation of place and attitude towards culture. On the one hand, the Korean Wave has helped set a clear vision and strategies of targeting M&E industries, which have benefitted from its growth in the global market. On the other hand, DMC’s lopsided prioritisation of culture as a commodity has prevented DMC from becoming a ‘creative milieu’. There is a need to scrutinise the complexity of creativity and the creative cluster concept to achieve a sustainable urban place as a ‘creative milieu’, which combines the local, social and cultural ‘scene’ with ‘creative atmosphere’. The intrinsic value of arts and culture also needs to be prioritised and not be treated as another service industry. The unique case of DMC as a creative cluster development in Korea can open further debates in terms of understanding the complexity of ‘creativity’ in relation to urban development and planning policies that seek to create new major centres of economic competitiveness.

Notes 1. Kim Do-nyun is one of the principal designers of the DMC (notably, the designer of the now famous Digital Media Street) and a Professor at Sung Kyun Kwan University in Seoul. 2. Instead of ‘creative class’, this chapter prefers to use the term ‘creative worker’ to refer to all those who work in the CCIs. 3. Revenue came not only from the products, but also from related commodities such as fashion, food, cosmetics, cosmetic surgery and cultural tourism. 4. The large Korean conglomerates and ‘chaebols’ are heavily connected in property speculation in the nation’s real estate markets (Sohn 2008). They operate major construction firms and reap profits from the state-financed reformation of the built environment (see Pirie 2008). 5. The construction of DMC began in November 2006.



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Interviews Ahn, J. “DMC as a Creative Milieu”. Interview by Junmin Song. In person. Nonhyun-dong, Seoul, 05, 2014. Byeon, C. “What is the Creative City.” Interview by Junmin Song. In person. Neungdong-ro, Seoul, 04, 2014. Kim, D. “How to Plan DMC.” Interview by Junmin Song. In person. Suwon, Gyungi-do, 04, 2014. Lee, D. “Informal Interview during the Field Work Period.” Interview by Junmin Song. DMC, Seoul, 09, 2011. Park, S. “Management of DMC.” Interview by Junmin Song. In person. DMC, Seoul. 04, 2014. Song, J. “Creative Class in DMC.” Interview by Junmin Song. In person. Sungsu-­ dong, Seoul, 04, 2014.


The Role of an Urban Festival: Case Study of the Pingyao International Film Festival Jian Xiao and Lin Jin

Introduction In recent decades, urban festivals have shown remarkable growth and become an important way in creating a city’s unique identity (Robertson and Wardrop 2004; Del Barrio et al. 2012; Van Aalst and van Melik 2012) and in branding a city with cultural and economic privileges. As Hearn (2008) points out, branding links products and services ‘with resonant meanings through the use of narratives and images’ (2008: 195). More importantly, it can produce aestheticised modes of justification for public investment by embedding cultural meanings into consumption (Goldman and Papson 2006). To understand the role of a festival in city branding, it is important to understand how a festival generally functions in a society. One approach is

J. Xiao (*) School of Media and International Culture, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China L. Jin Nanchang University, Nanchang, China © The Author(s) 2020 X. Gu et al. (eds.), Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia,




to regard festivals as ‘a point of convergence’, as proposed by Gibson and Stewart (2009: 20). As a network node, festivals not only provide global cultural resources (Quinn 2005) but also connect social and business contacts and become part of an extensive relational links within the global creative economy (Cudny 2016). The significant role played by festivals in modern societies is well understood within China, where they are often supported by the government and integrated into its creative industries agenda—mainly for economic profits (Cheng 2018). The prosperity of festivals can mostly be seen in the top or second-tier cities in China (Reijnders and Xu 2018), but it has also expanded to fringe cities like the Dali film festival in Yunnan province, Shunde Music Festival in Guangdong province, and Wuzhen theater festival in Zhejiang province. These festivals have established global connections for the cities and enhanced their image. Compared with the flourishing creative industries in the first and second-tier cities in China, emerging urban festival practices and their role in changing the perception of small cities is hardly explored. As China’s film industry is regarded as one of the great successes of cultural policy based on the official report from State Office in 2010, this chapter presents a case study of the International Film Festival initiated by filmmaker Jia Zhangke1 in his birth province—the small city of Pingyao that is known for its cultural heritage and creativity—and sets out to understand the impact of the festival on the city. Taking the example of modern festivals in China, we argue that small cities form sites of particular conflicts and tension between the historical values of the film industry in the city and the contemporary festival that may produce divergence between the local art forms and the global film industry, and between the everyday living experience of local audiences and visitors from outside of Pingyao. We further argue that it is necessary to extend the current literature on festivals and city branding to small cities, which can potentially lead to the Chinese government reconsidering its approach to creative industries and creative cities that tends to focus on larger cities. In a wider sense, scholars have generated abundant discussion about creative industries, creative cities, and their development and relevant policies. For instance, it has been argued that creative industries policy should be regarded as a form of urban policy that follows the narrative of urban regeneration or ‘creative cities’ (O’Connor and Gu 2010). With respect to non-Anglo American contexts, O’Connor and Gu (2012) also point out that Chinese cultural policy prioritises the need to promote national values, although they have also been used for the marketisation of



depoliticised forms of popular culture. In contrast to the west where creative industries are usually seen as advanced replacements for old manufacturers in favour of service industries, the Chinese cultural and creative industries are more concerned with the value of culture albeit a controlled one (O’Connor and Gu 2012). Such thinking is critical of Keane’s (2009) view of the Chinese creative industry as contributing nothing to society except for justifying real estate values. It is thus interesting to further consider the position of creative industries in current government policy and its relation to the ‘creative city’ agenda in China. The data used in this chapter is derived from a bigger project that researches on the role of Chinese contemporary festivals in second-tier cities with a focus on the Pingyao Film Festival. The study utilises participant observation during the first year of the festival in 2017 and in-depth interviews with festival organisers, film critics, local residents and movie fans. The chapter is divided into three sections to explore the image-building process of the city. First, it discusses the city in general and the significant role of the festival palace (Dian Ying Gong).2 This is followed by an analysis of how various participants experience the festival. The final section discusses how the film festival enables the city to brand itself through new media technologies.

Entering the Palace The reciprocal interaction between social practice and space has often been discussed in the theorisation of space in social life (Agnew 1989; Gregoryd and Urry 1985; Harvey 1989; Hershkovitz 1993). In this regard, festivals can be distinctive, as they provide something outside of people’s normal everyday experiences in time and space (Cudny 2016). Wu and Dai (2018) adopt Foucault’s concept of heterotopia in understanding the spatial practices in urban festivals, pointing out that festivals can construct a temporary space for rebellious behaviours, a replacement for normality and an exclusive heterotopia. Similarly in this chapter, we argue that the spatial transformation led by the film festival divides Pingyao City into two parts: the normal everyday city with a reputation of being a historical site that attracts an abundance of tourists who may or may not have connections with film as an art form, and the festival palace that is transformed from a previous industrial area into a ‘heterotopia’ separate from the former through activities such as film screening, red carpet gala events and academic forums. The two areas



are different in terms of participants, building styles, and activities, but are also interconnected. Festive Ancient City In Stringer’s words, ‘What many festivals actually now market and project are not just “narrative images” but a city’s own “festival image”,’ (2001: 140). Nevertheless, the location of the festival with its selective history is crucial for building the festival image in order to establish cultural difference. This can be shown in the trend towards festivals named after the city where the festival is organised (De Valck 2017). In Pingyao City, a series of festivals takes place each year, including the prestigious Pingyao International Photography Festival,3 the newly established Pingyao Film Festival, and Pingyao Sculpture Festival. As a result of these events, Pingyao has constructed a festive image that in turn adds layers of contemporary cultural meaning to Pingyao’s narrative image, a historical and touristic place with a reputation for being a best preserved Ming- and Qing-period ancient town (Cheng 2018). Meanwhile, government support is a crucial element in preserving the ancient culture and developing these festivals. According to official documentation regarding cultural reform and development in Shanxi province (2017), establishing a mechanism for protecting cultural heritage and immaterial cultural heritage is not only encouraged, but organising international festivals is also emphasised to enhance the cultural connotations of Shanxi’s cities. As an ancient city, Pingyao has already had the advantage of branding itself as a cultural city. Shanxi province legalised the protection principles of Pingyao as an ancient city in 1998. The government aims to focus on increasing its local and global influence in terms of being a historical city and turning itself into a modern touristic city. The company of Pingyao Ancient City joint-stock Tourism was established in Pingyao. The chairman of the board is also the director of the Finance Bureau, while its general manager is also the deputy director of the Finance Bureau. The state owns majority of the company. It is therefore not surprising that the state has issued a loan of over 300 million Yuan from the China Development Bank for the protection and tourism development of Pingyao City. As Davis (2014) argues, small town festivals aim to create a local image to compensate for economic decline, as more consumers decide to shop in large centres. However, it is also possible that the government or other



institutions encouraging festivals in small towns may have to incorporate local history, culture or folklore, in order to generate sustainable cultural and economic growth (Gibson and Stewart 2009). This chapter shows that Pingyao government and institutions have not only supported the transformation of an abandoned old factory into a festival palace for the Pingyao Film Festival, but also encourage festivals to include traditional and local artistic forms from within the province. This case proves that the successful organisation of the film festival—through its ability to mobilise local and global cultural resources—contributes to the success of Pingyao in becoming a creative. However, there are also some conflicts in achieving this, which are discussed in the subsequent sections. The Festival Palace The main street of Pingyao’s old town is occupied by hotels, restaurants, or shops, often with typical touristic traditional style architecture. At the northwest corner of the old town, the festival palace (Dian Ying Gong) was transformed from a dilapidated 1950 government-run factory. The Palace is patterned after an ancient town design. The name and logo of ‘Pingyao Festival Palace’ appear prominently at the entrance. Existing as a hybrid space in culture and arts, and serving as a place for celebrating films, the palace consists of an open-air theater and five screening rooms, a forum space for organising academic discussions, an exhibition space for showcasing film posters, a press center for media professionals, a movie palace station for individual or collective hangouts, a bookstore, and a number of integrated spaces for catering and retail. Compared with other internationally reputable film festivals, Pingyao Film Festival focuses on non-western countries such as Eastern Europe, South America and Africa, whose films are rarely seen in China and generally marginalised in the global market. The Pingyao Film Festival is substantially supported by government-related institutions including the Jinzhong Municipal Committee, the Pingyao county committee and the local county government. To some extent, the reworking of the festival palace fits into the urban renewal strategy led by government cultural policy which, according to Li (2017), aims to increase economic growth and improve the image of urban areas. In general, decaying city centres are regarded as lacking cultural meaning and aesthetic value, and the relevant cultural policy purposely intends to re-create the place (Cheng 2018). For



places with an industrial architecture heritage, the re-creation of history and cultural heritage is intrinsic in regenerating the city and appealing for local residents. Furthermore, local residents may appropriate the space for their own use (Altay 2007). While a transformed art space (in the festival palace) contains a screening hall for audience-generated discussions during the event, the external space (outside of the festival palace) contains locally-run bars, shops, restaurants, and places for informal discussions and social activities amongst local communities. The concept of the festival palace was first introduced in China along with the film festival. It is noticeable that the festival brand plays a significant role in shaping the cultural experience of the city beyond the festival sites and participants. As Moor (2003) mentions in her study of the Irish music festival Witnness, the cross promotion amongst venues activates a whole network of places and people. Film festival promotion therefore has implications that go beyond the festival sites and the entire local area of amenity services and life experiences. In Skot-Hansen’s (2005) account, the concept of ‘creative clusters’ is adopted to describe a network of creative industries that include the whole creative ecology, challenging traditional boundaries between business, art and science, and between social, economic and cultural policy. In this case, Pingyao City has linked the film festival and the sculpture festival in one location. More importantly, these festivals have integrated ancient architectural features into contemporary cultural consumption sites in their engagement with a broad range of audience groups.

Experiencing the Festival Instead of taking an instrumental approach to developing festivals (Skot-­ Hansen 2005), Jensen (2003) proposes an expressive perspective—understanding arts as experience. Essentially, this approach highlights diversities in cultural tastes and preferences. In this sense, rather than regarding the arts as having the education value in public life, the expressive approach explores the meanings of art at the individual level. Therefore, art empowers our individual expression and becomes a vehicle to participate in public conversation. The Pingyao Film Festival provides this experience in exploring how organisers, local residents, film industry professionals, and fans are brought together.



The Local Impact The participation of local residents in the film festival is a success indicator (Quinn 2005). This is often linked to the ‘cinematic experience’ than the ‘spectacle’ of film festivals. The responses of residents to the question of festival attendance are linked to their own experience with Chinese films. De Valck (2017) stresses the dimensions of social experience in relation to the popularity of modern film festivals (2017: 196). In fact, attending festivals functions not only as a means of ‘bragging evidence of one’s cultural capital’ for the participants (Reijnders and Xu 2018: 86), but also as a means of social engagement (Stevens 2016). Pingyao Film Festival has created the occasion for people who are unable to experience film culture and engage with the cultural form as a group. As De Valck (2017) points out, a variety of rituals such as red-carpet premieres and awarding ceremonies take place in festivals, which contribute to demystifying the film industry and making it more accessible to non-professionals. Outsiders, mostly movie fans, perform the rituals of film fandom by spending a lot of money to attend red-carpet celebrations. Experts, fans and local residents are also clustered in film festivals. However, the engagement level from locals who are bemused by celebrities is the same as those who offer critiques or expert views. The latter group is often not interested in making connection with the locals. Some local residents are expressing their disconnection with the festival as an exclusive cultural space. As the owner of a record store says, I don’t know why this place has to pretend to be a cultural city. It’s simply a street of Kebabs or Changsha Stinky Tofu… small households are proud of themselves as fast-hand Douyin online red shop. They have no shame. Money has become their biggest advantage….

The role of being a shop owner during the Pingyao Film Festival is simply to earn money. This is disappointing for him because he seeks actively to build connections with the film festival beyond the economic benefits. This has been a largely missed opportunity for the local government and festival organisers who underestimate the level of cultural and social engagement that Pingyao’s local residents wish to have. The prioritisation of economic values of film festival has also limited its potential to reach its global audiences.



Visitor Experience in the Film Festival According to Bahto (2007), film festivals enable a more immersive viewing experience and combine four dimensions of the experience, namely, entertaining, educational, escapist, and aesthetic. With a tendency towards being institutionalised and commodified as a form of consumption, the film festival experience is changing, too. This is particularly problematic in big cities where the financial pressure of running the festival could be much higher than a small city like Pingyao. The festival in a small city provides the atmosphere and intimacy that is absent in festival in a big city like Beijing. The differences in the logics of time and space between the Beijing Film Festival and the Pingyao Film Festival are subtle. Festival goers prefer Pingyao because it is less busy and commercially-­ driven, and it retains the festival atmosphere. This experience is shaped by a particular understanding of spatial practice—the construction of the festival palace. Compared with the film festivals organised in top-tier cities such as Beijing and Shanghai with their indoor screening rooms widely scattered across the city, people enjoy greater devotion to the film festival in Pingyao whose facilities are centralised. Far away from big cities, the festival location can also construct an exclusive space for visitors escaping from their daily lives in other cities. According to Moor (2003), the spatial and experiential interventions need to be carefully planned to attract the ‘right consumers’ and get the ‘right experience’ for them. Thus, the idea of the festival palace has intervened in the original spatial concept of Pingyao as a city with ancient culture, and attracted those who are expecting to have the cinematic experience. As Lury (2004) defines these experiences in context, the brand is a multiply mediated set of referrals between products, in which one product refers to another—through a set of highly charged, intensive associations—across a discontinuous time and space (2004: 318).

Becoming Cosmopolitan For cities without many outstanding cultural activities, festivals can be a good means to mobilise and gather cultural resources, and attract audience attention, especially for small towns (Klaic et al. 2002). A comparable example to Pingyao is Tolmin in West Slovenia, which has various



international music festivals such as Jazz or Reggae. Consistent with Korzog’s (2011) discussion of festivals in this small town, Pingyao’s approach not only sets up its local agenda for collaboration but also connects the locality to the broader world. Pingyao Film Festival brings in large amounts of visitors from first-tier cities and enables the small city as a place of exchange, whereby it becomes a component of the global creative cities network. In this case, audience from top-tier cities attends the film festival, and international journalists cover the event because of the reputation of film director Jia Zhangke. The festival’s press consultant Richard shares, The journalists who have experienced Cannes and other film festivals know Jia Zhangke. We have 25 international journalists here—majority of whom are visiting China for the first time. They follow Jia Zhangke and Marco Muller.

This shows that a film festival can reflect the cultural capital of the organiser to a great extent (Moor 2003). In this case, filmmaker Jia Zhangke brings with him an international reputation. Foreign journalists regard the high cultural status of Jia Zhangke, which is channeled through the festival. In turn, by becoming part of the global film scene, Pingyao City can easily share the festival’s level of cultural capital in enhancing its own global cultural status. This increasing global orientation makes Pingyao Film Festival comparable with the Indonesian punk scene, which Martin-Iverson describes as ‘a form of cosmopolitanism urbanism’ (2014: 543). Specifically, the localism is not grounded on national identities or values but positions Pingyao Film Festival as part of the global film festival network. In Pingyao’s case, its cultural status has to be curated. Like Cannes, Pingyao Film Festival can be regarded as a boutique and arthouse film festival. Instead of becoming a crudely commercial marketplace for the film industry, the festival’s cultural status has been elevated to being associated with non-mainstream films and non-popular culture for a niche audience. This is reflected in the dissociation from government and bureaucracy to further nurture a sense of ‘independence’. It is interesting that small towns like Pingyao are able to achieve this goal more easily than top-tier cities. Without the bureaucratic rituals of welcoming the government officials, the festival can focus more on the rituals of artistic exchange, which



in turn elevates its internationally recognised cultural capital. This includes a careful balance of local and global cultural content. Although the festivals are marketed to global audiences, it can only be successful by demonstrating its respect and sensitivity to the local elements in a festival (Klaic et  al. 2002). Pingyao Film Festival has an area called ‘Pingyao corner’, where both local talents and local films are featured and films about Pingyao City are screened. According to Richard, We want the Pingyao experience to be more than just about the film festival itself. Many journalists also write about the lifestyle in Pingyao.

The small city lifestyle and its ancient culture have provided the seed for constructing a local identity that is vastly different from big cities—it is poetic and utopian. For foreigners, the Pingyao experience is connected to the past of China and represents its history. For participants who mostly travel from top-tier cities, Pingyao represents an authentic experience that is more connected to the old China. For Lury (2004), brand development appeals not only to external consumers but also to locals embodying the cultural identities that are supportive of the brand. In Pingyao’s case, the successful promotion of festivals, together with the promotion of local cultural resources, serves to construct the brand image of Pingyao City as a site for cultural heritage and innovative contemporary film culture.

Place Marketing through Film and New Media The narrative and values drawn from the city’s past is crucial in formulating a creative city strategy. Place marketing involves the construction of a meta-narrative and meta-image derived from the city’s past like the use of cultural meanings and images from the narrative and visual codes of mainstream culture, which is film in this case (Hearn 2008). Films embedded in sets of relations and local contexts of life are important tools for creating the stories of filmmakers, as well as stories of the community it speaks to or represents (Arvidson 2005; Holt 2002). As a consequence of this local embeddedness capacities, films and new technologies play a central mediatisation role in place marketing. In Pingyao’s case, relevant stories, events and photos are narrated in the official WeChat accounts of Pingyao ancient city tourism and Pingyao Film Festival, which disseminate information about the festival and its associated functions to the public. To some extent, these two accounts synthesise the narratives regarding several



significant aspects of the festival like the Pingyao festival palace, the engagement of local residents, the liaison with other small cities, and the global connections and influence of the festival. Originally a temporary space for the festival, the festival palace has successfully transformed into a cultural space for locals. With emphasis on community, identity and culture, the palace is not only a symbol but also a real cultural resource that is meaningful for local residents who can watch movies more often. This endeavour can expand the local film community beyond the film festival. For example, local folklore is increasingly featured in the marketing of film festivals. In this sense, a film festival becomes ‘both the object and the medium of brand activity’ for the city (Moor 2003: 42). This strategy is clearly working towards Pingyao’s advantage. The WeChat account publicises articles like the festival palace winning the Italian design architect award, or the city liaising with Wuzhen and becoming an ‘intelligent city’ due to its festival traditions. In these occasions, the cultural brand of Pingyao Film Festival has been made valuable ‘in relation to its flexibility, visibility, potential profitability, and ability to express and circulate resonant cultural meanings’ (Moor 2003: 208).

Conclusion: Image-Building Process A festival can play an essential role in the process of urban regeneration. Originally reliant on its sole image as an ancient city, Pingyao has now become a city with contemporary and creative, cultural images in both local and global dimensions. The film festival, together with other festivals, provides platforms not only for residents and fans from more developed cities in China to experience a distinctive cultural form but also for liaising with other similar cities locally and globally. As such, the construction of Pingyao’s creative city image has evolved from that of a small city that offers unique local lifestyles and serves as an escape from the big city life into a city with international status and as a node in the international film industry. More importantly, this process can be sustained easily through the nature of the film industry, its reliance on media formats, and its linkages to new media technologies, which have enabled the city to develop a holistic brand narrative with greater visibility, potential profitability and multiple meanings.



Notes 1. Jia Zhangke is a Chinese film director and screenwriter. He is generally regarded as a leading figure of the ‘Sixth Generation’ movement of Chinese cinema, who has won the Venice Film Festival’s top award Golden Lion for Still Life, and gained his international reputation. 2. A detailed introduction can be accessed here: index_en/gonglv.aspx?id=1 (accessed in April 25, 2019). 3. With the support of the Ministry of Culture, the State Council Information Office, the Shanxi Provincial Party Committee, and the Pingyao government, the Pingyao International Photography Festival was first established in Pingyao Ancient City in 2001, so that the unique style, simple folk customs and a variety of photographic activities can complement each other and create a local and global influence. It is a globally influential platform for photographers, industry promoters and academics.

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Interviews Lormand, Richard. Interview by author, Pingyao, 13 October 2017. Wu, Xiao Interview by author, Pingyao, 14 October 2017.


‘Behind the Scenes’ of Mumbai’s Bollywood Anubha Sarkar

Introduction Mumbai is oft quoted as the ‘City of Dreams’, the city where many people go to fulfil their aspirations. Mumbai is also a major port city and the capital of Maharashtra, India. The Globalisation and World Ranking Research Institute classifies Mumbai as an ‘Alpha City’, which means that it is a primary node of the global economic network. Mumbai is the only South Asian city in this list, making it perhaps the most ‘globalised’ city in South Asia. The city houses several corporate and bank headquarters, in addition to India’s two main stock exchanges (Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange). Importantly, Mumbai happens to be the home of Bollywood, which refers to India’s prolific and most popular film industry. In November 2019, Mumbai received the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s ‘Creative City’1 tag under the film category, on the occasion of World Cities Day.

A. Sarkar (*) School of Media, Film & Journalism, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 X. Gu et al. (eds.), Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia,




Bollywood is a portmanteau of ‘Bombay’ and ‘Hollywood’. It refers to India’s Hindi-language film industry that is based in Mumbai (formerly Bombay; thus, it was also known as Bombay cinema). Bollywood is a term that is derided and commended almost equally. It has a negative connotation of being a derivative, imitative and low-quality version of Hollywood. On the other hand, Bollywood is India’s major cultural industry and dominates the country’s media landscape. It comprises 52% of the domestic Box Office (BO) collection as of 20182, and puts Bollywood in a strategically important position. Hence, it is a common misconception that Bollywood refers to India’s film industry as a whole. However, India also has other film industries like the Tamil, Telugu and Bengali film industries (see Fig. 12.1). According to Statista, India has been leading the world’s

Fig. 12.1  Keelery, Published by Sandhya. “India - Box Office Contribution by Language 2019.” Statista, July 7, 2020. Share of regional box office contribution across India as of May 2018, by language Rights Holder Name: Statista Acknowledgement/Citation details: Published by Sanika Diwanji, Sep 23, 2019 Types of licensing: Creative Commons



Fig. 12.2  Watson, Amy. “Leading Film Markets Worldwide by Number of Films Produced 2018,” July 11, 2019. leading-film-markets-worldwide-by-number-of-films-produced/ Leading film markets worldwide from 2007-2018, by number of films produced Rights Holder Name: Statista Acknowledgement/Citation details: Published by Amy Watson, Jul 11, 2019 Types of licensing: Creative Commons

film production output with an average of 1500 films annually from 2007 to 2018 (see Fig. 12.2), making it one of the few non-Western countries to penetrate the mainstream global cinema market successfully. Despite Bollywood’s popularity and global foray since the 1940s, it was only in 1998 when the Indian government officially recognised and granted its film industry an ‘industry’ status. The industry is a commercial success and enjoys a significant amount of autonomy in its functions and operations not because of the government’s active policy support, but due to the lack of it. This chapter interrogates the extent (if any) of how the cultural and creative city policies have impacted the growth of Bollywood. It argues that given the historical struggle of Bollywood practitioners to gain cultural and commercial legitimacy, the industry has survived due to the government’s benign neglect of it. Any interference with this status quo will have an adverse impact on the very cultural and symbolic value of Bollywood.



The Bollywood Industry India’s film industry had been subject to momentous changes ever since media deregulation began in 1991, coinciding with the opening up of the Indian economy. Deregulation saw a shift from single-screen movie halls to multiplexes, and the number of film screens increased exponentially, boosting the number of films shown simultaneously. The industry was able to access the latest technologies from across the world and promoted the digitalisation of film content. The deregulated and privatised global broadcasting environment and the availability of digital television and online delivery systems ensured that Bollywood film content was available to new and varied international audiences. This also led to higher revenue and profitability for films, which encouraged more participation from big film corporations. Bollywood’s industry recognition in 1998 has allowed it to gain easy access to global distribution networks and the diasporic audience3. Nitin Govil (2016) writes, To count as an industry, the film trade would need to learn to count in a specific way. This rationalization of enumeration would enable Indian cinema to cross the threshold to become an industry (2016: 176).

Mehta (2005: 137) argues that by ‘designating film as an industry, and thereby bringing an “unorganized” and “informal” sector of the economy under its purview, the state was actively attempting to (re)inscribe its authority in the context of globalization’. In the case of Bollywood, the ‘industry’ status was achieved rather than presumed, processual rather than preordained (Govil 2016). This is to say that the ‘industry’ came after the film making, rather than before. Bollywood films had long been produced, despite it not being formally designated an ‘industry’. Perhaps it was all the better for that, as by no means all the elements of Bollywood’s mode of production could fit neatly into the commonly understood definition of an industry. The unique conditions of the city’s history and growth post-Independence endowed the film industry with its own unique DNA. Unlike the Hollywood model that anchors its entire filmmaking process on the narrative, the Bollywood style considers each Hindi film element an entity of its own. Hence, song and dance sequences and dialogues are separate productions that involve individual set of specialists. This



results from Indian cinema’s liberal borrowing from the country’s several folk dance and theatre traditions. According to Prasad (2000: 37), most assume that Hollywood style filmmaking was due to historical conditions extraneous to it, but what if certain production practices were adopted because they were the best for the particular style of filmmaking for the industry?

Prasad (2000) sheds light on Bollywood’s style of filmmaking by terming it as a ‘heterogenous mode of manufacture’, which can be understood as a highly fragmented and disorganised mode of production—a feature that persists today. This is akin to different parts being produced by specialists, and then assembled together to form one product. It is different from a centralised form of processing where every part feeds into a center. Furthermore, in contrast to the vertically integrated system in Hollywood, there exists in Bollywood a horizontal network of studios, producers and distributors. The producer is often the owner-manager of the production house (Lorenzen and Täube 2008). Shukla (2015) surmises in his thesis exploring creativity and social networks in Bollywood that the family-based production houses stick to the ‘masala’ format of films, constantly assembling and reassembling similar tropes due to the historical, cultural and social capital accumulated over the years. These production houses tend to be innovative in their production processes and technology because the infusion of professionalism and other innovations brought in by the international studios comes in handy. Professionalism here indicates the establishment of contracts and offers, which earlier used to be based simply on word of honour or trust (Lorenzen and Täube 2008). Even though the integration of production, distribution and exhibition amongst the domestic production houses and studios—consequent to the entry of international studios—cannot be ignored, these international studios failed due to their inability to understand the Indian film audience and film industry operations. Meanwhile, domestic production houses take advantage of a rich legacy of filmmaking passed down from generations, making them more successful. This points back to Prasad’s contention on Bollywood’s heterogenous mode of manufacture that enables the very form of Bollywood/Indian films (2000). The Hindi film industry’s structures of finance and distribution, sites of power, organization of labor, and overall work culture are quite distinct from Hollywood. It has been and continues to be an industry of freelancers who come together for a particular film project. (Ganti 2012: 20)



Thus, as opposed to the Hollywood style of filmmaking, owing to the specific scaffolding of a Bollywood film, the fragmented mode of production enables the very melodramatic form of the film. The industry’s attempts to gain both cultural and legal legitimacy, and its inherently disaggregated condition allow it to retain its commercial viability and stay independent of the government.

Bollywood: The Enfant Terrible Two decades on from 1998, India is now being increasingly seen as a global and economic power. Consequently, the Media and Entertainment (M&E) sector has been identified as one of the key sectors for the ‘Make in India’ initiative. This programme endeavours to create additional employment opportunities by enhancing India’s business environment and positioning India as a destination for manufacturing and services. The film industry’s inscription under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the exclusion of Bollywood from the Ministry of Culture are clear indicators of the Indian government’s perception of the film industry. That is, it is purely a sector that provides employment and contributes to the economy. The recent operationalisation of the Film Facilitation Office (FFO) under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in 2018 to promote India as a film destination and facilitate ‘cinema tourism’ further underscores the Indian government’s outlook (Fig. 12.3). Unlike other creative cities where creative spaces or clusters have become a prominent part of urban planning, Bollywood’s growth and popularity has no form of government support. Several film clusters around the world receive significant government subsidies and support for international film promotion. In Europe, film exports are supported by the EU, and in Asia, China is a prominent example of having quotas for foreign movies that can be released. The last film commission was established in 1969, whose recommendations were ignored. Enacted policies (if any) would often make it difficult for the film industry to thrive, such as the imposition of high entertainment tax. It was only in 2019 that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was reduced from 28% to 18% for movie tickets costing above 100 rupees. Moreover, the adoption of the term ‘M&E sector’ in 2014 is another indicator of how the Indian film and media industries are generally perceived. India’s usage of the taxonomy for the film industry is more similar to monitoring a services economy that focuses on output, export and sales.



Fig. 12.3  Sarkar, Anubha. “Bollywood’s Global Affair: The Cultural Industry and Soft Power.” Dissertation, 2020. Governance of film policy in India. Tables and division of ministries/organisations formulated based on my PhD research

The classification of Bollywood under the services sector also owes much to the industry’s location. As mentioned earlier, Mumbai houses several headquarters of important financial institutions in India. When India gained Independence in 1947, Mumbai emerged as a flourishing cultural centre because of the post-Independence financial spurt and the movement of migrants and talent to the film industry. Over the decades, the city has served as a supplier and market, catering to the specialised needs of both the commercial sector and the film industry. Ghadge explains, Several factors had a profound impact on Bombay/Mumbai’s post-colonial development—post-independence demographic change, deindustrialization and informalization, and a shift from manufacturing to finance and producer services—leading to increasing social and spatial polarization in the city. (2018: 67)

The reorganisation of Mumbai was supported by India’s adoption of economic liberalisation and deregulation policies in 1991. The 74th Amendment Act by the Indian government gave municipal corporations more autonomy to transform urban governance. The spatial reorganisation of manufacturing industries in Mumbai (Patel 2003: 11) resulted in an empty urban core that can accommodate the new economy for finance,



tourism, and retail and entertainment industries. The concentration of the cultural and creative sectors in and around this core is emblematic of a creative city (Bell and Jayne 2004; Pratt 2005). Thus, the private sector plays an increasingly important role in encouraging foreign investment despite the speculative rise in Mumbai’s real estate values (Nijman 2000). Banerjee-Guha (2002) further claims that the urban planning of Mumbai after 1991 was geared towards copying other global cities, often informally referred to as the ‘Shanghaization’ of Mumbai. A USD 6.5 billion plan to transform Mumbai was unveiled after the 2004 state elections. According to Ghadge (2013: iii), Mumbai’s desire to replicate the fast growth rate of Shanghai has resulted in an urban growth strategy produced and sustained by a constellation of actors operating at multiple scales involving the corporate sector, the national and subnational state, and the urban middle classes.

Moreover, this development model privileges the urban middle class and does not address the structural inequalities and poverty in the city (Ghadge 2013). It was also during this period when the film industry was granted its industry status. After which, several international film production and distribution companies that wanted a piece of the large, robust Indian film market made their entry.

Conclusion According to film director Onir4, There is no government that is a lover of art… it is always whatever suits them politically. I think the government only uses it when it has events and they want stars to come and dance for their political agenda, but they don’t care for cinema as a form of art, which I don’t think is their interest or priority. But right now, overall, there is no support as such…

Onir’s comments are scathing, but not entirely misplaced. In the Indian film industry’s more than a century of existence, only three film committees have been established, the suggestions of which have either been partially or never accepted. The first was the Indian Cinematograph Committee (ICC) in 1927, then the Patil Commission in 1953, and finally the Khosla Committee in 1969. There are some state level policy



measures, or even in sub-sectors such as television and print, but there has been no overarching policy. Based on the policy documents that I have reviewed and the interviews that I have conducted, there exists a very fragmented discourse and understanding of Bollywood on the government’s side of things. The government does not regard India’s film industry as an intrinsic part of the country’s arts and culture. Hence, it is excluded from India’s cultural policies. Consequently, any enacted policies do not address the concerns of the film industry because the stakeholders have not been consulted or involved. Hesmondhalgh and Pratt (2005: 6) opine that it is ‘more sensible to recognize that the main interest in such (cultural) industries is the symbolic, aesthetic, and for the want of a better term, artistic nature of their output because these outputs can potentially have such a strong influence on the way we understand society—including of course, cultural production itself.’ According to Pratt (2005), what is often missing in the discussion of cultural industries is their ‘depth’. The ensemble or motley group (Caves 2000) varies industry to industry. Pratt (2005) highlights the importance of the ‘cultural production chain’, ‘circuit’, or ‘web’ system of an industry. Ideally, policy formulation on cultural industries should stem from understanding how the circuits of production function. However, this is usually not evident in Indian cultural policies. For Bollywood, not only are the policies fragmented, they also emanate from the Indian government’s apathetic attitude and inability to understand its own film industry. This situation reflects India’s dominant post-colonial identity as a nation. Postcoloniality by default requires cultural policies to adhere to the discourse of a defined national identity. It is important to note that there has been a misappropriation of India’s history and a destruction of India’s artisan sector under colonial rule. In order for India to revamp its national identity, it was imperative to create an image of a superior ‘ancient and spiritual civilisation’ to carve an impression of a culture distinct from Western modernity. Thus, when India gained Independence in 1947 and the Planning Commission was set up in 1950, the role of culture was predominantly nationalistic in flavour and intrinsic to the concept of planned national development. In 1896, cinema arrived in India from Paris. It was considered a new practice and art form in relation to other art forms in India. Moreover, the initial screenings consisted of imported films from the US and Europe. Although India’s film industry and Bollywood are



distinct in their visual language and in the manner that they operate, they are often not accorded the same respect and support as traditional culture. This is also why the industry had to fend for itself and try to be commercially successful until it received its industry status in 1998. However, it is also this commercial underpinning that pushes the industry into the ambit of popular culture, and which further strengthens the rationale for the absence of active government support. Despite this, Bollywood has only grown stronger and is now a globally recognised film industry in the Global South. Given Bollywood’s commercial success and its fight for cultural legitimacy over the years, it is no longer in need of being circumscribed within the domain of cultural policy. Furthermore, it is evident that India has a strict division between high art and low art, public and private, artistic and commercial; and this will not change any time soon. Ironically, it is the ‘heterogeneous nature of production’ and the local anchorage of the industry that give it its competitive advantage and allow it to remain autonomous. When the Lumière brothers decided to screen their short films in Mumbai in 1896, it set the fortunes of Mumbai and Bollywood to be intertwined forever. The city and the industry have benefitted and suffered from the effects of globalisation and technological shifts, but their transformation is apparent even if the same struggles and conflicts persist. Accordingly, the binaries of economics vs. culture, public vs. private, rich vs. poor continue to reveal themselves.

Notes 1. 2. This figure also includes box-office collections of Hollywood films, but Bollywood still forms the bulk of this percentage. 3. According to the latest figures of The International Migrant Stock 2019, a dataset released by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), India is the leading country of origin, accounting for about 18 million persons living abroad. 4. Onir is a prominent Bollywood film director who has been a part of the industry for more than a decade. The interview was conducted in October 2018.



References Banerjee-Guha, Swapna. 2002. Shifting Cities: Urban Restructuring in Mumbai. Economic and Political Weekly 37 (2): 121–128. Bell, David, and Mark Jayne. 2004. Conceptualizing the City of Quarters. In City of Quarters: Urban Villages in the Contemporary City, ed. David Bell and Mark Jayne, 1–14. Aldershot: Ashgate. Caves, Richard E. 2000. Creative Industries: Contracts between Art and Commerce. Harvard University Press. Ganti, Tejaswini. 2012. Sentiments of Disdain and Practices of Distinction: Boundary-work, Subjectivity, and Value in the Hindi Film Industry. Anthropological Quarterly: 5–43. Ghadge, Ravi. 2013. Shanghaization of Mumbai: Visions, Displacements, Contestations. PhD diss., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. ———. 2018. Connections and Disconnections: The Making of Bombay/ Mumbai as India’s “Global City”. JGI 12 (1): 55–76. Govil, Nitin. 2016. Envisioning the Future: Financialization and the Indian Entertainment Industry Reports. South Asian Popular Culture 14 (3): 219–234. Hesmondhalgh, David, and Andy C. Pratt. 2005. Cultural Industries and Cultural Policy. International Journal of Cultural Policy 11 (1): 1–13. Lorenzen, Mark, and Florian Arun Täube. 2008. Breakout from Bollywood? The Roles of Social Networks and Regulation in the Evolution of Indian Film Industry. Journal of International Management 14 (3): 286–299. Mehta, Monika. 2005. Globalizing Bombay Cinema: Reproducing the Indian State and Family. Cultural Dynamics 17 (2): 135–154. Nijman, Jan. 2000. Mumbai’s Real Estate Market in 1990s: De-regulation, Global Money and Casino Capitalism. Economic and Political Weekly 35 (7): 575–582. Patel, Sujata. 2003. Bombay and Mumbai: Identities, Politics, and Populism. In Bombay and Mumbai: The City in Transition, ed. Sujata Patel and Jim Masselos, 3–30. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Prasad, M. 2000. Ideology of the Hindi Film: A Historical Construction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pratt, Andy C. 2005. Cultural Industries and Public Policy: An Oxymoron? International Journal of Cultural Policy 11 (1): 31–44. Shukla, Prashant Pushker. 2015. Impact of Success on Creativity and Resource Management: Three Essays on Bollywood. PhD thesis, Beedie School of Business Faculty: Segal Graduate School.


Cool Japan, Creative Industries, and Diversity Koichi Iwabuchi

Introduction The development of digital communication technologies and the intensification of transnational media culture flows have been marketising culture and highlighting the significance of media communication in national and global economies. The notions of ‘convergence culture’ and ‘creative industries’ have attracted wide policy attention (e.g., Hartley et al. 2012; Cunningham 2011). One important feature of the discussion on creative industries is the promotion of grassroots creativity and advancement of social inclusion and democratisation, which ‘suggests that everyone who wants a voice, has one; that all are free to add some sort of cultural contribution’ (Paschal 2017). The notion of creative industries contains the promising idea of ‘the democratizing potential of new media, and it is sufficiently idealistic to hope that the new media enterprises that attract their interest will achieve something more socially useful than commercial

K. Iwabuchi (*) School of Sociology, Kwansei Gakuin University, Nishinomiya, Japan e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 X. Gu et al. (eds.), Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia,




success’ (Turner 2012: 696). However, the policy-related discussion on creative industries has attracted as much criticism as acclamation due to the endorsement of a market-driven promotion of cultural production that engenders the economy’s takeover of cultural matters (O’Connor 2004; Hesmondhalgh 2013). Many studies show the worsening of labour conditions, especially for young workers in creative industries, which are eventually controlled by media conglomerates (Miller 2009; Ross 2003). The optimistic view that the search for creative talent enhances cultural diversity and lessens inequality in job markets (Florida 2002) does not hold up well, as the socio-cultural hierarchy is even strengthened by the rise of creative industries (Oakley 2006). The policy discussion on creative industries has been advancing in Asian countries, including China, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Republic of Korea (hereafter, Korea), and Japan. In Japan, the economic significance of promoting the international circulation of media culture has been increasingly taken seriously, although other related terms such as cultural diplomacy, soft power, and content industries have been more commonly used. However, Japan’s and other Asian countries’ policy discussion hardly shows serious engagement with the substantial development of the creativity of the media and cultural sectors and their democratising potential. I will first discuss how the post-war development of cultural policy in Japan has ramifications for the current policy discussion on ‘Cool Japan’, whose key concern is selling Japanese culture by using a national branding policy model that utilises the strength of national cultural creativity. The policy focuses on the international showcasing of content industries and thus is powerless to enhance creativity and improve poor labour conditions. I will then consider an internationally shared question of enhancing creativity by promoting cultural diversity and offer suggestions to redesign cultural policy to reconcile enhancing creativity and promoting diversity in Japan.

‘Cool Japan’ and Creative Industries In Japan, there is no single governmental institution that plans and implements a coherent cultural policy. Several terms such as ‘Cool Japan’, soft power, national branding, content industries, and creative industries have been used, and various ministries have been involved, such as the Agency for Culture; Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA); Ministry of Economy,



Trade and Industry (METI); Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications; and Cabinet Office. Whilst METI is mainly responsible for developing a creative industry policy, its involvement with cultural policy in post-war Japan is relatively recent and marginal. After the war, the negative evaluation of the state’s pre-war repression of media and culture prevented the government from developing substantial cultural policies. Cultural policy in post-war Japan has been limited to protecting and encouraging traditional culture by constructing infrastructure and an incentive evaluation system of artistic activities (mostly handled by the Agency for Culture), and refraining from being involved in cultural production. There has thus been no substantial policy to promote media cultural industries, but they rapidly developed after the 1960s due to their own innovation and support from the affluent domestic market. It is important to note that post-war cultural policy had a strong interest in introducing Japanese culture to the world. In the 1970s, the Fukuda doctrine systematically implemented cultural diplomacy and cultural exchange programmes by setting up the Japan Foundation, affiliated with MOFA, to soften mounting anti-Japanese sentiment in Southeast Asia. With policymakers’ increasing attention to the potential of media culture to enhance national interests, METI is increasingly taking the initiative in developing a creative industry policy. But the post-war features of a developing cultural policy have had an impact on the recent discussion on creative industries in Japan. Hartley et  al. (2012) point out that several Asian countries such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore have adopted a United Kingdom policy model for the creative industries to their local contexts; but the idea of the creative industries has not had a significant impact in Japan or in Korea and India. The authors explain why: [T]hese countries already have significant ‘soft power’, a term referring to potent media and communication sectors with evidence of export capabilities. In Japan, the term ‘gross national cool’ has captured attention while in nearby Korea the term ‘Korean Wave’ exemplifies regional soft power. (125)

This observation is suggestive of the above-mentioned features of Japan’s cultural policy. It might be true that Japan’s soft power—Japan’s media culture production capacity—has deterred the discussion of a creative industry policy, but this should be understood in relation to the



post-war absence of cultural policy in general. The reference to ‘soft power’ and ‘gross national cool’ also illustrates an enduring concern with promoting cultural diplomacy and raising Japan’s international standing. Whilst a concern with the economic benefit of exporting media culture is growing, the discussion of creative industries in Japan still tends to consider the need to enhance its national image in the world. It is Cool Japan that has become the catchphrase integrating both political and economic objectives of cultural policy and is used by the Cabinet Secretariat and the Agency for Culture, as well as by MOFA and METI.  The Cabinet Secretariat set up the Council for the Promotion of Cool Japan in 2013 and METI established the Cool Japan Promotion Office in June 2010, for the first time adopting the term ‘creative industries’ for English translation. The notion of ‘Cool Japan’ has attracted wide attention since the early twenty-first century, denoting the celebratory global spread of Japanese media culture. Although the spread of Japanese media culture into the US and Europe has been gradual since at least the 1980s, more recent Euro-­ American media coverage has given credence to the notion of a ‘Cool Japan’. Several commentators have attested to Japan’s growing cultural influence and some journalists even proclaimed the rise of Japan as an international cultural superpower, coining the term GNC (Gross National Cool) (McGray 2002). The rise of Japanese media culture in global markets has engendered a narcissistic discourse on the global spread of Japanese media and consumer culture in the 1990s (Iwabuchi 2002), but Japan’s embrace of Cool Japan is not just limited to nationalistic euphoria. It has been accompanied by active national policy discussion and implementation to further enhance Japan’s cultural standing in the world. A key term here is ‘soft power’. US political scientist Joseph Nye (1990) argues that ‘soft co-optic power’ is a significant factor in attaining global hegemony. The US’s use of media culture to advance public diplomacy is not new, but Nye considers it imperative that the US government develop a soft-power policy to make strategic use, in the post–cold war era, of a globally diffused media and consumer culture, of symbolic icons and positive images and values associated with the US. A decade later, the concept of soft power attracted renewed attention in the context of the Bush administration’s hard-line policies, especially after 9/11, and this time many countries other than the US adopted soft power as a cultural policy. The Japanese government also began publicly announcing its policy orientation towards enhancing soft power. MOFA used the term soft power to promote cultural diplomacy, especially under then Minister Taro Aso



(2005–2007). The significance of the use of media culture for cultural diplomacy was much stressed as a means to enhance Japan’s national brand amongst the international community. Soft power and a good national brand are assumed to be something that Japan has already cultivated and that it should demonstrate to the international arena.1 This has led to an opportunistic policy discussion of the expediency of media culture: all that is needed is the international circulation of already existing attractive culture to enhance Japan’s national brand.2 This posture seriously limited the policy discussion on creative industries. The discussion on promoting media culture also assumes that Japan’s main concern is how to promote an already existing attractive culture internationally. There is still no substantial policy discussion to promote cultural production. Inspired by the Korean Wave success, METI has become keener to generate a bigger boom by expanding Japanese content internationally, which should lead to more sales of already appealing consumer goods such as fashion, food, technologies, and crafts. METI’s key policy strategy focuses on supporting the international expansion of creative industries rather than planning a comprehensive cultural policy to develop the media culture industry in Japan. The goal is to make best use of appealing media culture and then export it to enhance the national brand. The key strategy is creating platforms, distribution networks, and exhibitions that promote Japanese content overseas, thus driving more tourists to Japan. The Council for the Promotion of Cool Japan, set up in 2013 with a minister in charge, takes a similar direction. It was announced that JPY 50 billion would be included in the 2013 national budget, mainly to set up infrastructure to advertise the charm of Japanese culture worldwide, not just media but also food, fashion, traditional crafts, and ways of life. Japan’s vision diverges from both the profit-driven US model and the public-minded European model. As Uricchio (2004: 83) points out, as the US model ‘lacks all but the vestiges of culture as a common good, there has been no serious governmental attempt to stimulate a public culture’, which is at least part of cultural policy discussion in Europe and Australia. The Japanese case appears to be more along the lines of the highly market-oriented US model. METI now uses the notion of ‘creative industries’ as ‘content business/industries’, which include film, animation, comics, TV, music, and games. The term ‘content’ suggests not much concern with the ‘cultural’—symbolic and aesthetic—quality of



media culture, which echoes Garnham’s (2005) point that the idea of creative industries is an extension of the information technology (IT) industry discourse. Content is considered a commodity and the concern is to develop international distribution channels, including digital platforms generated by advanced IT, to circulate content. In Japan’s case however, the measures taken for this purpose are rather unsatisfactory, as they do not include market deregulation and intellectual property re-regulation (Garnham 2005), and no serious attempt has been made to develop international distribution channels, which are controlled by US-centred global conglomerates. The impetus to maximise profit is hampered by the aspiration to enhance the national image by using existing media culture. Yet, this cultural concern is different from the European model, which considers culture as a common good and aims to stimulate a particular national vision of culture (Garnham 2005). The Japanese national vision is not related to the public good at all, but is merely the nationalistic desire to improve Japan’s international brand. Overdetermined by the post-war (un)development of cultural policy, Japan’s content/creative industry policy is lackadaisical: neither fully committed to developing content industries nor to fostering public goods, and neither paying attention to nurturing creators nor potentially democratising society by using digital media. Japan’s case is a national branding model whose key aim is to opportunistically utilise the established appeal of national media culture to promote a good image internationally. The policy is not concerned with how promoting content industries would benefit creators and help new kinds of cultural creativity flourish. Rather, the main concern is to sell ‘the Japan brand’. Japanese content industries are sceptical of the state’s ability to promote the export of media cultural products, partly because the Japanese media industries developed due to the creators’ and corporations’ great efforts alone, without government support, in the post-war era. For example, foreign TV programme imports have not been regulated (as is also the case in Hong Kong), but the domestic TV market became nearly self-­ sufficient by the early 1970s. Media cultural industries in Japan are proud of their achievements, are cynical about the state’s capacity to understand media culture production, and even have some antipathy towards being incorporated into the Cool Japan strategy. They are also sceptical of how the Cool Japan fund is used. Most imperative for the industries is the improvement of the domestic production environment to foster the creative competence needed to win against international rivals, through state



subsidy of the training of creators, improvement of notoriously bad labour conditions and clarification of copyright matters. But these issues are not yet seriously considered in the Cool Japan policy discussion, whilst policymakers shower with praise the creativity of Japanese animation and games, which they believe significantly elevate Japan’s brand. The Cool Japan fund has been used to promote the export of already popular cultural products. The failure of the Cool Japan policy to push other cultural exports and the ineffective investment of the Cool Japan fund became publicly evident in 2018 (e.g., Nikkei Shinbun [2018]. It was reported that ‘the programme has invested JPY 52.9 billion ($481.24 million) in public and private funds into 25 projects, but it operates at a loss of JPY 4.4 billion ($40.02 million)’.3

Creative Industries and Cultural Diversity Another crucial issue in enhancing creativity is related to promoting cultural diversity. Creative industries should not discriminate against people and should offer more access to the production and consumption of culture to socio-culturally marginalised people than do other sectors. This ideal is questioned because it emphasizes talent and excellence, which eventually leads to the reproduction of social exclusion based on the existing social and cultural hierarchy within the nation (Hesmondhalgh 2013). For example, the UK’s Creative Industries Federation 2015 report on ‘Creative Diversity: The state of diversity in the UK’s creative industries, and what we can do about it’4 identifies diversity and inclusivity as drivers of creative growth, but creative industries have been and still are mainly composed of white, university-educated males in London. Promoting diversity has become more urgent, as we have witnessed growing business concerns with promoting diversity in workplaces to enhance creativity in order to survive international competition. Although the relevant data is not available, it is reasonable to say that promoting diversity has not been much considered in Japan’s policy discussion on creative industries. Japan still claims to be racially and culturally homogenous and is reluctant to take in immigrants. I have argued elsewhere that there is a huge discrepancy between the rapid development of the Cool Japan policy and the strong unwillingness to accept migrants and foster cultural diversity within Japan (Iwabuchi 2015). The Cool Japan initiatives even suppress existing cultural diversity: nation branding essentialises the nation in market terms and disengages with cultural diversity.



Cool Japan’s pursuit of narrow national interests propagates the idea that the nation functions as a unit of cultural diversity in the world but does not seriously engage with socio-cultural democratisation of the kind that does justice to hitherto marginalised voices and differences in society (Iwabuchi 2015). It has been much pointed out that Japan has been open to indigenising cultural influences from other parts of the world (especially the US) whilst being closed to ethno-racial diversity (Iwabuchi 1998). If tolerance of symbolic cultural diversity has been the strength of Japanese content industries, whether and how tolerance of ethno-cultural diversity can be enhanced in order for them to become more creative and win against global rivals is a significant issue that we need to carefully examine. Recently, businesses have become interested in promoting diversity in workplaces in Japan, following the global trend. Demand is growing for a globally competitive labour force equipped with linguistic and intercultural capabilities. Such an interest is initially corporate-driven, and the main objective is enhancing national economic interests by globalising higher education, which has ramifications for creative industries. METI proposed easing the granting of long-stay visas to overseas creators as part of Cool Japan, and one key member of the Cool Japan strategy committee also argued that ‘one of our most important recommendations is promoting immigration of creative industry professionals. This is the perfect time to open Japan up to the world with a focus on two keywords—culture and creativity’ (Umezawa 2015). This discussion aligns itself with the global tendency to reformulate immigration policy to accept talented and skilled workers useful to the national economy. Accordingly, the Japanese government promotes the skilled-migrant policy by granting them permanent residency status much more easily and quickly. However, it needs to be noted that the policy seeks diverse talents from outside and tends not to do so from the existing ethno-racial diversity within the nation. In a global creative city with high-tech infrastructure, it is suggested that talented, creative people gather and work together irrespective of socio-­cultural background—class, ethnicity/race, and gender/sexuality—thereby constructing a social environment more tolerant of cultural diversity (Florida 2002). This ideal has not been realised as the prevailing ethnic, racial, gender, and sexual hierarchy dominates creative labour. Thus, the abovementioned British discussion shows that enhancing creativity by promoting diversity must take existing culturally diverse groups and their inclusion and contribution more seriously. In Japan, existing ethnically diverse groups and their cultural contribution should be publicly acknowledged.



As the Japanese census shows, the composition of the nation as ‘Japanese’ and ‘foreigners’ only without indicating ethnic background and ethnic diversity is ignored or even suppressed. It should also be recognised that the nation’s creativity cannot be detached from and can only be enhanced by fostering cultural diversity in the workforce and in society as a whole. This point is related to the idea that creative industries can advance socio-cultural democratisation: ‘Everyone who wants a voice, has one; that all are free to add some sort of cultural contribution’ (Paschal 2017). I suggest that the scope of ‘creative industries’ be reconceived by including public and semi-public sectors and organisations. All organisations, groups, and social actors such as governmental organisations, public institutions, public service organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), non-profit organizations (NPOs), and citizens’ groups that strive to promote expression and activities that foster cultural diversity and advance multicultural co-living should be recognised as key players in the creative industries, and a cultural policy that supports them needs to be developed. Projects include artistic practices, museum exhibitions, independent creators’ audio-visual expressions, ethnic and migrant media, and citizen’s media—all of which should be facilitated by transnational collaboration. Whilst discussion on creative industries tends to focus on supporting domestic industries against international rivals, promoting grassroots creativity to enhance diversity can be transnationally shared. For instance, projects that involve cross-border collaboration like the Trans-East-Asia Multiculturalism (TEAM) concern themselves with transAsia human mobility and multicultural diversity in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. TEAM’s key objective is to facilitate dialogue amongst social actors such as local communities, NGOs, NPOs, civic organisations, and migrant subjects who strive to advance multicultural inclusion. TEAM promotes cultural and artistic expressions of migrants’ stories to embrace and empower migrants and foster cultural diversity. The project engages with artists, museums, NGO, NPOs, people of migrant backgrounds, educators, researchers, and policymakers. To encourage social actors to learn from and collaborate with each other, EthniCities: Embracing Cultural Diversity in East Asia has been organised annually starting with (Taipei in 2016, Seoul in 2017, and Tokyo in 2018.5 The event includes filmmakers, singers, and performers with diverse migrant backgrounds, as well as NGOs and NPOs that support their activities and organise film festivals. Many participants were excited to hear about similar and different experiences in



other East Asian societies, which gave them a fresh perspective on their own multicultural activities. Some participants have forged new partnerships and cross-border projects, and researchers learn how they can help facilitate dialogue across borders. Migrant Diplomacy: Australia–Japan Exchange to Promote Cultural Diversity through Museum Practices, promotes exchange and dialogue between the Immigration Museum in Melbourne and related museums, artists, and organisations in Japan.6 As migration and cultural diversity have been attracting the attention of museums and artists in Japan due to the increasing number of migrants, this project embraces their presence and experience and fosters diversity in both countries. Since 2016, the project has organised exchanges and built collaborative relations among the Immigration Museum in Melbourne, the Immigration Museum in Tokyo (a pilot project whose establishment was inspired by the former), and the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. Another interactive workshop organised in April 2019 to embrace diversity through cultural and artistic expressions, together with institutions that promote multicultural inclusion in Hamamatsu (Hamamatsu International Cultural Exchange) and Nagoya (Nagoya International Centre), which are major multicultural cities in Japan. Such endeavours are significant as they link the current dominant diversity paradigm to democratic contention by tackling social inequality and inclusion beyond the business-driven conceptions of diversity and creativity (Faist 2009). The two projects are not directly related to the conventional practice of creative industries, and they might not increase economic profits in the short term. However, encouraging grassroots promotion of diversity and cultural and artistic expressions will significantly increase the possibility that creative industries will democratise society by amplifying grassroots creativity and diversity. Projects that foster grassroots cultural expressions and artistic activities merit policy support.

Conclusion Turner (2012: 112–113) argues that ‘the cultural policy studies agenda was largely in accord with the core activity of Cultural Studies …in that it had its eyes firmly fixed on the public good—this, understood as distinct from the political objectives of governments or the commercial objectives of the cultural industries’. The attention to the public good is reminiscent of Raymond Williams’ (1984) distinction between cultural policy proper and cultural policy as display. Cultural policy proper is concerned with



social democratisation as support for art, and media regulation designed to counter the kind of penetrating market forces that tend to marginalise unprofitable cultural forms and the expressions of various people. Cultural policy as display is ‘the public pomp of a particular social order’ (Williams 1984: 3). This form of cultural policy is typically put on display by a given national event and ceremony to achieve ‘national aggrandisement’. Cultural policy as display also takes the form of the ‘economic reductionism of culture’, which promotes business opportunities and economic growth. A growing interest in national branding through Cool Japan shows how the two forms of cultural policy as display have been expediently integrated for the sake of the national interest, which does not correspond to and even suppresses public interest, as it disregards crucial questions of who benefits from and what the democratising potential of promoting media culture is for. Critical examination of market performance and its impact on labour conditions and copyright issues is imperative. No less challenging is how we can associate fostering cultural diversity with discussing creative industries. This is not just relevant to the creative industries but to society as a whole. In the age of digital media communications, all consumers/citizens are active creators, and the citizens’ mundane participation in cultural production is important for the pursuit of democratisation. To advance this vital objective, a well-designed training and education programme should be developed to cultivate critical and reformist insights into the existing power relations over the issue of social inclusion and cultural diversity. Judging from the current policy discussion of Cool Japan, however, there is no sign that promoting creative industries is accompanied by recognising and dealing with ethno-racial differences. While the Tokyo Olympics 2020 has been postponed due to COVID-19, the time is ripe to put its slogan ‘Unity in Diversity’ into action. If it expands and redesigns a creative industry policy by taking the promotion of diversity seriously and including social actors and organisations that creatively aspire to enhance diversity, Japan can proudly offer the world a new democratising model of the creative industries. Acknowledgements:  An earlier version of this chapter has been published as “Cool Japan, Creative Industries and Diversity”, ERIA (Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia) Discussion Paper Series, No. 287.



Notes 1. Referring to the 2006 BBC survey of national images, Aso boasted that Japan was amongst the most favourably perceived nations and proposed to further promote the national brand by exporting more media culture (especially manga and anime, as far as he was concerned). However, he did not mention the fact that survey respondents in China and Korea had negative responses to images of Japan. 2. The Japanese version of soft-power discourse diverges from Nye’s in the use of media culture in international image politics. For Nye, media culture is just one of three possible resources in enhancing a nation’s soft power, the other two being respectful foreign policy and attractive democratic values established in the relevant society (2004). He warns against conflating the international appeal of media culture with soft power, stressing that soft power will not be enhanced if the other two resources are not properly developed. However, this conflation is a prevalent operational principle of cultural policy discussions in Japan. 3. 4. files/2017-06/30183-CIF%20Access%20&%20Diversity%20Booklet_A4_ Web%20(1)(1).pdf. 5. With support from the Toyota Foundation Research Grant Program; Kajima Foundation International Academic Exchange Aid; and Monash Asia Institute, Monash University. 6. Supported by the Australia–Japan Foundation Grant 2016–2017 and 2017–2018, and Monash Asia Institute, Monash University.

References Cunningham, Stuart. 2011. “Creative industries, its critics, and some answers”. Ekonomiaz 78 (3): 47–60. Faist, Thomas. 2009. Diversity: A New Mode of Incorporation? Ethnic and Racial Studies 32 (1): 171–190. Florida, Richard. 2002. The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life. New York: Basic Books. Garnham, Nicholas. 2005. From Cultural to Creative Industries: An Analysis of the Implications of the ‘Creative Industries’ Approach to Arts and Media Policy Making in the United Kingdom. International Journal of Cultural Policy 11 (1): 15–29. Hartley, John, et al. 2012. Key Concepts in Creative Industries. London: Sage. Hesmondhalgh, David. 2013. The Cultural Industries. 3rd ed. London: Sage.



Iwabuchi, Koichi. 1998. Pure Impurity: Japan’s Genius for Hybridism. Communal/ Plural: Journal of Transnational and Cross-cultural Studies 6 (1): 71–86. ———. 2002. Recentering Globalisation: Popular Culture and Japanese Transnationalism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. ———. 2015. Resilient Borders and Cultural Diversity: Internationalism, Brand Nationalism and Multiculturalism in Japan. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. McGray, Douglas. 2002. Japan’s Gross National Cool. Foreign Policy, May– June, 44–54. Miller, Toby. 2009. Can Natural Luddites Make Things Explode or Travel Faster? The New Humanities, Cultural Policy Studies, and Creative Industries. In Media Industries: History, Theory, and Method, ed. Jennifer Holt and Alisa Perren, 184–198. Malden, MA: Wiley/Blackwell. Nikkei, Shinbun. 2018. Restructuring of Cool Japan Policy Imperative. 3 March 2018. Nye, Joseph. 1990. Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power. New York: Basic Books. ———. 2004. Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics. New  York: Public Affairs. O’Connor, Justin. 2004. ‘A Special Kind of City Knowledge’: Innovative Clusters, Tacit Knowledge and the ‘Creative City’. Media International Australia 112: 131–149. Oakley, Kate. 2006. Include Us Out—Economic Development and Social Policy in the Creative Industries. Cultural Trends 15 (4): 255–273. Paschal, Jaylin. 2017. Creative Liberation: Democracy, Now?: On the ‘Democratisation’ of Culture. blog/2017/10/2/democracy-now-on-the-democratisation-of-culture. Ross, Andrew. 2003. No Collar: The Humane Workplace and its Hidden Costs. New York: Basic Books. Turner, Graeme. 2012. Surrendering the Space: Convergence Culture, Cultural Studies and the Curriculum. Cultural Studies 25 (4–5): 685–699. Umezawa, Tak. 2015. Diversity is the Key to Innovating Japanese Culture. 8 April 2015. Uricchio, William. 2004. Beyond the Great Divide: Collaborative Networks and the Challenge to Dominant Conceptions of Creative Industries. International Journal of Cultural Studies 7 (1): 79–90. Williams, Raymond. 1984. State Culture and Beyond. In Culture and the State, ed. Lisa Apignanesi, 3–5. London: Institute of Contemporary Arts.


Governing Creative Cities


Creative Seoul: A Lesson for Asian Creative Cities Kim-Marie Spence

Introduction The creative city discourse is a popular interpretation of the creative industries policy narrative, as evidenced by the bounty of creative city programs. In this chapter, I explore the emergence of an Asian creative city paradigm through a case study of Seoul (Kim 2017; Lee 2015; Lee and Hwang 2012). Firstly, I argue that creative city variants represent policy adaptations to the local and international political economy, particularly those that are ‘second mover’ cities (Pratt 2008). According to the Globalisation and World Cities Research Network (GAWC), five of the eight cities included in the Alpha category were Asian in 2018. An Asian creative city variant has emerged distinguished by public investment and contrasts with the neoliberal, market-reliant approach common in the ‘West’ (Kim 2017; Garnham 2005). Secondly, Seoul’s municipal initiatives seek to be drivers of local creative industries. Thirdly, this creative city movement is largely aspirational, and is embedded in national imaginaries of being ‘world class’

K.-M. Spence (*) Southampton Solent University, Southampton, UK e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 X. Gu et al. (eds.), Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia,




(De Beukelaer and Spence 2019; Pratt 2010). Seoul’s approach therefore exhibits strong correlation with the classic creative city paradigm as advanced by Landry and Bianchini (1995) with its focus on innovation and problem-solving (here the problem of economic development) rather than on arts and culture per se. As a result, the wellbeing of Seoulites are often secondary considerations. The creative city policy discourse has been accepted by policymakers worldwide (Flew and Cunningham 2010; Kong et  al. 2006). However, the definition of creative city and its implementation remains unclear to many. Smith and Warfield (2008) identify two types of creative city approaches—culture-centric and econo-centric. The econocentric model is arguably aligned to Landry and Bianchini’s (1995) creative city paradigm, where ‘creative’ means innovation and refers to being able to synthesize, to connect, to gauge impacts across different spheres of life, to see holistically, to understand how material changes affect our perceptions, to grasp the subtle ecologies of our systems of life and how to make them sustainable. (1995: 18)

Pratt (2011) also delineated  a four-pronged creative city taxonomy, demonstrating overlaps between culture-centric and econo-centric definitions. He highlighted four approaches based on built cultural infrastructure; economic development and place marketing; social inclusion and an industrial approach focusing on the cultural and creative industries themselves (Pratt 2011). Likewise, O’Connor and Shaw (2014) identified an alternative taxonomy with five approaches, adding a global city approach based on media and advanced technology, demonstrating an awareness of the centrality of cities and urbanity within the global cultural and creative economy. The internationalization of the creative city discourse involves an layered  intersection of econo-historical developments and of temporality. Kong et al. (2006) note the ‘uneven geography’ of work within creative economy literature despite the rise of the Asian creative economy. She identified similarity in approach among the ‘Asian Tigers’—South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan—with distinctive national articulations. The ‘Asian tigers’ were named for their aggressive economic growth beginning in the 1960s. It is unsurprising that the Tigers’ approaches to the creative city exhibit a development orientation with foci on economic development, place competition and technology. Moreover many of the Tigers were dealing with the downturn in manufacturing economy, and the development of new national identities.



This study of Seoul highlights two interlinked but distinct concepts— economic development and global aspiration. The global cultural economy demonstrates ‘western bias’ in its organization around cities such as New York and London (Scott 2004). Paradoxically New York and London are not members of a creative city network. The Asian cities’ embrace of the concept of creative city is aspirational and a ‘badge of honor’. De Beukelaer and Spence  (2018), in a taxonomy of cultural economy approaches, identify five cultural economy (policy) perspectives—agnostic, celebratory, aspirational, refusenik and reflexive. The aspirational approach is most common among cities, regions, and countries that buy into the idea of the cultural economy as a driver of their local economy… [and] as a branding exercise—where the mere claim to be a ‘creative’ region or ‘cultural’ capital may bring tourism, investment, and growth. (2018: 11)

In Seoul’s creative city approach, one discerns this layering of international and local concerns regarding economic development and international reputation. Despite Seoul’s or rather South Korea’s status as a developed economy, its aspiration to ‘catch up’ with the developed West remains. This Seoul creative city study is grounded in fieldwork for a  doctoral  research project on cultural industries and policy started in 2016 (Spence 2019). The study question focused on the impact of public policy support on/within prominent non-Western cultural industries including K-pop. This case study involved primary research in 2016 and 2017 including thirty interviews with government officials at the national and municipal level and with journalists, academics, fans and managers connected to the K-pop industry. K-pop is somewhat defined by the distinctive generation of online content by its fans (Jin and Yoon 2016). Reference is therefore made to the work of K-pop bloggers, alongside newspaper and magazine reports.

Developmental State Governance As the center of the Korean Wave (also known as Hallyu), Seoul is well placed for the study of the political, social and cultural history of Korean cultural content inclusive of K-pop, films and game. K-pop emerged from a Korean political moment where democracy, a relaxation of societal control and media liberalization converged under civilian  presidents Kim



Dae-­Jung and Kim Young-Sam (Shin and Lee 2017; Lie 2014). Even the location of the K-pop industry within Seoul’s newest and most luxurious neighborhood, Gangnam, indicates K-pop’s novelty within Korean musical history (Lie 2014). Seoul’s creative city approach is contingent on both  the developmental  state governance model  and temporality. South Korea’s (hereafter Korea) rapid development in the post-World War II period is largely attributed to government coordination with the private sector. The chaebols— the large interconnected groups of companies dominated by one family, such as Hyundai and Samsung—were created with government support and are central to the Korean economy (Kwon and Kim 2014). In this model, the government assumed a leading role in economic development and state investment (Kim 2017). Government partnership with the business sector remains a key characteristic of Korean governance, as per former president Park Geun-hye’s1 recent scandal. Given the top-down nature of the developmental state model, creative city policies emanate from intersecting national and municipal priorities. Analysis of Seoul’s creative city initiatives is therefore incomplete without attention to national policies, particularly with the creative industries policy division of labor between production and marketing-centric focus at the national level; and consumption and tourism at the local level. Western municipal governance often operates with a degree of independence necessary to support a Cities of Culture approach (Comunian 2011) or the subnational cultural funding characteristic of the US (Hillman-Chartrand and McCaughey 1989). The Seoul Mayoralty is often an ‘extended apprenticeship’ for national office, with over a third of mayors moving onto national office (Spence 2019). This assures a substantial level of alignment between national and local policy. The creative city initiatives under Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon (2006–2011) aligned with the ‘Global Korea’ policies of President Lee Myung-bak (2008–2013), himself a former Seoul Mayor, ‘whose primary objective was to achieve advanced nation status in foreign affairs’ (John 2015: 39). Historical Context Econo-historical context is important in understanding the primacy of development in Korean governance discourse. As a Tiger, Korea’s developmental status is recent. The 1997 Asian Financial Crisis (AFC) represented a critical juncture for the Korean private sector and policymakers strengthening their support of cultural industries. The AFC revealed that dependence on the chaebols, as the crux of Korea’s economic strategy, had



not insulated Korea, resulting in an IMF agreement (Kang 2015; Hong 2014).  This episode intensified the ‘export imperative’ of the South Korean government resulting in support for economic diversification. As Lie observed, The quasi-monopolistic dominance of chaebol…ended in 1998. Thus, a new space for competition opened up in the South Korean popular-music industry. (2014: 118)

One could argue that K-pop agencies/entertainment companies represent a new group of chaebols, in terms of government support (Spence 2019). It was clearly creative industries’ economic value that was attractive, not its cultural or social benefits. The Korean government had realized the economic worth of the cultural industries prior to the AFC. In 1993, the South Korean government, under President Kim Young-sam, recognized the value of film and other cultural industries via the movie Jurassic Park. This movie grossed over USD 1 million in revenues, almost double the export value of, and equivalent to 1.5 million Hyundai cars. This episode is referred to as the Jurassic Park Syndrome (Kang 2004). One result was the establishment of the Culture Industry Division within the Culture Ministry in 1994, with one-­ percent of the Korean GDP allotted to subsidize the cultural industries and establish agencies to promote the cultural industries (Kwon and Kim 2014; Kang 2004). The Jurassic Park Syndrome also aligned with President Kim Young-Sam’s globalization (segyehwa) policy. Post-Jurassic Park reforms included allowing chaebols’ entry to the creative industries (previously highly government regulated); the implementation of tax incentives and the passing of the 1999 Framework Act on the Promotion of the Cultural Industries (hereafter the Cultural Industries Act) (Kang 2015; Hong 2014). Unlike other Tigers, there is no reference in these Korean policy documents to Western  creative industries literature  such as that by Landry et cetera (Kong at al. 2006). Korea charted its own path in creative industries discourse. The 1999 Cultural Industries Act defined cultural industries as those, engaged in the planning, development, manufacturing, production, distribution, consumption, etc. of cultural products and services related thereto…movies or video materials, music or games,….publishing, printing or periodicals;…broadcast pictures; cultural properties; cartoons, characters, animation…. (South Korean Cultural Industry Policy Department 2002: 1)



This extensive definition of cultural industries involving technology and other industries is very different to creative industries policy in the West (e.g. DCMS 1998). While Garnham (2005) described the term ‘creative industries’ as introducing ICT industries by subterfuge into UK policy, in Korea, it was deliberate and part of a development strategy. The rise of K-pop was in part a result of a well-developed technological and ICT infrastructure to support the online activities of its fandom (Jin and Yoon 2016). President Kim Dae Jung, who declared himself the ‘President of Culture’, noted that the Government’s first priority support list are information and communications, industrial design, tourism and other culture industries. We will have to bet our survival and prosperity on these industries in the coming century. (Government of the Republic of Korea 1999: 326)

Strong public investment defines the national creative economy policy approach to the Korean Wave, in contrast with a more market-reliant neoliberal approach common in the West (Spence 2019; Kim 2017). This is true also of the global circulation of Korean cultural goods. The Korean government supported the making inroads into global cultural industries through, for example, the provision of completion guarantees in the 1999 Cultural Industries Act; and cultural funds for marketing and overseas performances and sponsorship of initiatives such as KCON.2 In fact, one of the first known K-pop concerts outside of Asia was funded by the Korean government through its Paris embassy and managed by SM Entertainment (Lee 2015). After the popularity of Korean artist Psy’s 2012 song, Gangnam Style, efforts to support the Korean Wave increased. In 1994 the Cultural Industries Division had a budget of KRW 5.4 billion and it has increased to 249 billion in 2012 (Kwon and Kim 2014). The Culture Ministry’s budget was increased by 9.4% in 2020 from last year, with KRW 32.3 billion allotted to support expansion of the cultural industries into overseas markets (Yonhap News Agency 2019).

Seoul and the Korean Wave It is not exaggerating to say that the Korean Wave is a Seoul-centric phenomenon. The first stage of the Korean Wave, Hallyu 1.0, began with K-drama (Korean TV drama), beginning with MBC’s 1997 What is Love All About and KBS’ 2003 Winter Sonata. Both  MBC and KBS are



Seoul-­based public broadcasters. K-dramas were so popular in Asia that 40 percent of the Japanese population watched Winter Sonata in 2005 (quoted in Kim 2007: 126). Hallyu 2.0 is defined by K-pop, and the entertainment companies that produce it, which again are Seoul-based. Seoul remained to be the center of the K-pop industry since 2017. Korea Inc.: Tourism K-pop is valued for its economic multiplier effect. KOFICE, the Korea Foundation for International Cultural Exchange, estimated that while Hallyu created USD 9.48 billion in exports in 2018 and K-pop accounted for 4.8% of that. Hallyu accounted for an additional USD 5 billion of exports in consumer products including cosmetics and tourism (KOFICE 2019). This model has been dubbed as Korea Inc. Tourism is an important branch of Korea Inc and part of Seoul’s creative city approach. The number of visitors to Korea has more than quadrupled since the start of the Korean Wave in 1998 (Bae et  al. 2017). Additionally, there is a positive correlation between increased Korean cultural export and tourist arrivals from China, Japan, the USA and Hong Kong (Bae et al. 2017; Kim 2007; Lee 2015). Consequently, the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) utilizes K-pop artists as brand ambassadors. Likewise, at the city/municipal level, tourism is a significant K-pop economic pillar within the creative city strategy. While national policy has mainly focused on the production and export of cultural products; at the city level, the focus has been on cultural consumption and tourism. Like the KTO, the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) has utilized K-pop groups as ambassadors. Girls Generation were the ambassadors for 2007 SMG and for the Gangnam District Office in 2012 (Kim 2018). World-­ famous K-pop group BTS are currently Seoul’s tourism ambassadors. Seoul’s creative city approach is a hybrid,  focusing on cultural infrastructure, but based on pop culture rather than the marquis cultural institutions (Plaza 2010). It is a cultural consumption, rather than a cultural production model.  The Gangnam government developed a teddy bearlike mascot, the Gangnamdol, and placed life-size commemorative  versions for top K-pop groups along K-Star Road (see Fig.  14.1). K-Star Road is the roadway between the Apgujeong Rodeo station and the Cheongdam intersection in Gangnam. It is essentially a K-pop Walk of Fame intended for picture taking and to mark Gangnam as K-pop’s home. There is/was also the K-Wave Experience Zone in the Gangnam Tourist



Fig. 14.1  VIXX Gangnamdol, K-Star Road, 2016

Information Centre featuring K-pop memorabilia, costumes and tours. Additionally,  there are two Gangnam Style-specific monuments, one at Gangnam station and another at COEX Mall. All four initiatives are tourism-centric and reflect a rush in 2012 to capitalize on the iconic song Gangnam Style. However, these initatives do not seek to support the wider music, cultural or creative economy, with its focus on attracting cultural tourism. The Gangnamdol initiative reflects Seoul’s creative city approach and its focus on touristic consumption. A tourist promotion office was established with the stated aim of doubling the number of tourists rather than supporting the K-pop or music industry (Interview with Gangnam Tourist Office Staff 2016; Park 2014; Fackler 2012) While Gangnam is home to most of the big K-pop entertainment agencies, Hongdae, in northwest Seoul, is home to the creative music scene.



Fig. 14.2  2012 Gangnam Style Monument, Gangnam Station 2016

These cultural monuments without much connection to the local music scene do little to boost Korean cultural identity. The first monument, a cut-out near Gangnam Station, was described in The New York Times as ‘puny and tasteless’ (Fackler 2012) (Fig. 14.2). Psy was not contracted to promote that statue (Fackler 2012). The other Gangnam Style monument at COEX Mall is similarly ill-conceived. The Gangnam local government established a statue of hands—to symbolize the hand position of the popular Gangnam Style dance in 2017. The statue is ‘gold’ and plays Gangnam Style when someone stands underneath. It cost approximately KRW 400 million (USD 357,000) and caused much local anxiety. According to Psy himself, I understand that everyone was so hyped and excited after the song went viral…I really appreciate the fact that they used tax money to create this, but I really think it’s just too much. (KpopJoA 2017)

Both statutes are also far away from Cheongdam, the locus of K-pop companies in Gangnam. Similar complaints have been raised regarding costs in building K-Star Road (Chang 2017; Interview with YG Employee 2016). These initiatives also betray a lack of local consultation. For example, there were questions regarding the choice of the artists honored on



Fig. 14.3  Old JYP Building, Cheongdam. Taken from the Dunkin Donuts. 2016

K-Star Road (Chang 2017). There were also questions regarding its efficacy. While the Dunking Donuts outlet across from JYP, one of the ‘Big Three’ K-pop companies, had attracted many international and local fans, K-Zone and K-Star Road remained empty (Fig. 14.3). The K-Zone received an average of 25 visitors of its K-Wave Experience Zone (Interview with Gangnam Tourist Office Staff 2016; Park 2014). It is therefore not surprising that the K-Wave Experience Zone and Gangdamdol Haus  were temporarily closed (Park 2014). They were generic tourist attractions, rather than ones tailored to a K-pop fandom characterized by fan sociality, collaboration facilitated by a social mediascape that defines K-pop fandom (Jin and Yoon 2016). Recently, the Zone has started hosted fan meets.  In comparison, attractions developed by local companies, such as SM Entertainment’s SM Town including hologram concerts, photo booths, fan events (etc.) in the COEX Mall and various entertainment companies’ headquarters are often listed as must-see attractions on K-pop blogs. The municipal focus of the Seoulite creative city variant revolves around touristic consumption. There is a differentiation of objectives between national and urban cultural policy with 81% of all cultural funding in Seoul being public (BOP Consulting 2017). National policy focuses on production and overseas marketing, while local policy focuses on consumption.



This division of labor is not intrinsic to South Korea. A hybrid version exists in Shanghai where one sees evidence of both production and consumption policies at both levels (Gu 2014; O’Connor and Gu 2012). However, the economic and reputational context here is important. In Korea, cultural tourism is an important part of Korea Inc. In China, the policy context is one of promoting a change in international reputation via production from ‘Made in China to Created in China’ and facilitated by a large domestic market (Keane 2006). Aspirational Seoul The national foci of the Seoulite creative city paradigm is economic and aspirational.  Jojin John (2015) argues that ‘the historical experience of Korea as a hujinguk (backward country) underlies the emphasis accorded to the goal of becoming seonjinguk (advanced nation) and a key site of Korean national identity construction’ (2015: 38). Creative city status has become part of the urban and even national development, with inter-city competition a defining characteristic (O’Connor and Shaw 2014; Comunian 2011; Pratt 2011; Florida 2002). South Korean bureaucrats speak of Seoul joining a list of ‘world class’ cities (Cho 2010). This aspiration is enmeshed within the ex-centric experience. Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon (2006–2011) pioneered Seoulite creative city initiatives, in coordination with the ‘Global Korea’ policies of President Lee Myung-bak (2008–2013). It was in this environment of international ambition that the Design Olympiads were inculcated. Seoul’s 2007 and 2008 Design Olympiads were urban expressions of ‘Global Korea’. In 2010 Seoul’s then-Chief Design Officer identified ‘design as a shortcut to become a global city’ (Kwon 2009). The SMG also utilizes a technology and design-centric creative industries definition, inclusive of ‘tourism; design and fashion; digital content; conventions; research and development in information technology, nanotechnology and biotechnology; and financial and business services’ (Lee and Hwang 2012: 2824). There were consultations with other cities, with Mayor Oh and his SMG team conducting international study visits (Lee and Hwang 2012). Seoul’s international status rose with the construction of Dongdaemun Design Plaza,3 and was named the World Design Capital in 2010 by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design. Moreover, the 2010 Seoul Design Fair received so much international media coverage that some thought ‘Seoul’s status as a “hot” city on a level



equal to—or exceeding—Tokyo’ (Lee 2015: 11), emphasizing the inter-­ city competition. Design Olympiads were one element of Mayor Oh’s Culturenomics strategy, which emphasizes transformation from ‘a hardware-­type city created on the foundation of rapid economic development to a software-type city where culture and design take center stage’ (Yang 2016). The SMG’s conception of the creative city as a global economic and branding concern is aligned with the creative city as per Landry and Bianchini (1995). They identified the creative city as one with the innovative resources to solve its problems, noting that ‘future competition between nations, cities and enterprises looks set to be based less on natural resources, location or past reputation and more on the ability to develop attractive images and symbols and project these effectively’ (Landry and Bianchini 1995: 12). The idea of place competition is intimately embedded in this paradigm. Likewise, in 2010, Seoul was named the ninth most competitive city world according to the Global Cities Index,4 with Mayor Oh publicly aspiring to be fifth (Kwon 2009). As with K-pop-centric municipal initiatives, the Design Capital initiatives involved little consultation with the relevant creative community. Lee’s (2015) study of these design initiatives highlighted the lack of consultation, comprehension and benefit to Seoul’s citizenry. Seoul’s design community disagreed with the SMG’s plans calling them ‘grandiose’. Indeed, one of the legacies of Mayor Oh’s time in office was the debt incurred (Lee and Hwang 2012). Design professionals also took a dim view of the Olympiad, according to the Seoul Development Institute, with design students organizing anti-Olympiad campaigns (Lee 2015). However, international adulation trumped community concerns leading to more Olympiads (Cho 2010). Despite the top-down nature of  the developmental state, public  consultation is valued in Korea, with the blacklisting of artists contributing to President Park Geun-Hye’s downfall (Kim 2018). The question is whether development state model and its inherent top-­ down orientation, combined with aspiration, can result in a citizen-friendly model. In Shanghai, Gu (2014) highlighted tensions in the citizen-­ mediated cluster of Tianzifang between officials, citizens and newer business interests (Gu 2014). Driven by the aspiration of becoming UNESCO’s City of Design, Seoul strives to accomplish international recognition whilst ignoring the needs of local creative community. This has resulted in issues of gentrification and other real estate centric effects in other creative



cities (O’Connor and Gu 2012; Zukin 1987). Pratt (2011) and O’Connor and Shaw (2014) noted social inclusion and social regeneration as alternative organising principles for creative city paradigms. These elements are largely absent from the Seoulite creative city, with tensions evident with civil society even in well-received development projects such as Cheonggyecheon (Cho 2010).

Conclusion: Seoul—A Successful Creative City? This chapter focuses on creative city paradigm of twenty-first century Seoul and its role as an examplar of the emerging consensus around an Asian creative city paradigm and discourse characterized by a focus on export, economic development and branding. Seoul is representative of this consensus, with its national export imperative approach and municipal  global city aspirations.  This study also demonstrates the hegemonic power of a narrative  grounded in  largely western creative cities and the transmutation within local contexts, reaffirming the importance of  ex-­ centric research. In summary, there are three key points from the Seoul study. Firstly, creative cities policy is clearly dominated by the neo-liberal development mindset. The drive to be economically secure, technologically advanced and globally influential is the drive of the ‘second mover’ (Pratt 2010; Scott 2004). The focus on creative industries (versus cultural industries) is part of a wider economic and reputational developmental effort. Secondly, national and local governance are interlinked to support coordinated implementation of creative city policies within a developmental state. The policies of Mayor Oh Se-Hoon align well with President Lee Myung-bak’s ‘Global Korea’ policy. They also diverge according to different policy objectives. National policy focused on increased exports, whilst at the municipal level, the focus was on the promotion of Korean Wave tourism and Seoul’s global status. The Seoul case is therefore enmeshed within wider global cultural economy networks. With the growth in creative city networks and schemes in Asia, there is much to be learned from their non-Western  experience  in the development of creative city paradigms. The explicit recognition of the aspirational in the creative city policy field is a critical step in addressing Western hegemony within the field. The inclusion of the aspirational aspect forces developing creative cities to buy into the Western policy discourses despite very different social, political and cultural contexts. In this sense, Seoul’s focus on an extensive creative economy and the creation of a new



twentieth/twenty-­ first century city aligns with Smith and Warfield’s (2008) econo-centric creative city. Seoul’s combination of economic strength, design innovation and international acclaim could claim to represent a distinctive Asian creative city approach. Despite the economic and reputational benefits to be derived from the Seoulite creative city model, this case study highlights the lack of citizen and creative community participation, highlighting a need for a holistic urban development aligned more with human development.

Notes 1. President Park Geun-hye was impeached on charges of corruption due to the steering of funds from various business interests by her advisor to her (the advisor’s) foundations. 2. KCON is a Hallyu/Korean Wave-centric convention that began in 2012 in California. As its website ( notes “KCON USA is the original convention dedicated to bring “All Things Hallyu” to the American fan base” and showcases the music, dramas, food, beauty products of Korea. It has since expanded beyond the US to Japan, the UAE (Abu Dhabi), Australia, and Mexico. KCON is spearheaded by CJ E&M but has been consistently supported by the government through KOCCA, KOTRA, Ministry of SMEs & Startups, and CCEI (Center for Creative Economy & Innovation). BTS performed their first show in the USA at KCON in 2014. 3. Dongdaemun Design Plaza an iconic landmark designed by Zaha Hadid whose construction began in 2009 under Mayor Oh Se-hoon. It is one of the main reasons for Seoul’s design as World Design Capital in 2010. 4. 2010.pdf/1880d48e-4ac2-7b30-b24e-a0ac47382307?t=1500555506672.

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Re-imaging the Guangdong-Hong Kong-­ Macao Greater Bay Area as a Cluster of Creative Cities Desmond Cheuk Kuen Hui, Charmaine Cheung Man Hui, Patrick Kin Wai Mok, Jason Ka Hei Wong, and Ruijie Du

Introduction The alliance of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao as a region for strategic policy and development has a long history—first articulated as the Pearl River Delta (PRD), it went through various transformations, responding to changes in the overall context of Mainland China, and different social, political and economic needs of the times (Bie et al. 2015). The region’s most recent formulation as the Greater Bay Area (GBA) by Xi Jinping in 2015 could be seen as reiteration of a long standing concept of regional development. However, to elevate such a policy concept to the national level is unprecedented and it is therefore worth carefully examining this new iteration for its overall national and international

D. C. K. Hui (*) • C. C. M. Hui • P. K. W. Mok • J. K. H. Wong • R. Du The Hang Seng University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 X. Gu et al. (eds.), Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia,




strategic significance. The push by China on the GBA coincides with other global development agendas and initiatives, most notably the concepts of creative cities and clustering, which also had long histories before taking their current form. The modern idea of cities’ growth in the form of networks and clustering can be traced back to the evolutionary concept of the Megalopolis coined by Patrick Geddes (1915), designating the growth of great urban conglomerations, and later developed by Spengler (1918), Mumford (1938) and Gottmann (1961). Central to the idea of the great metropoles is the combination of culture, creativity, and economic competitiveness, which ultimately led to various national and international initiatives—from the Australian Creative Nation and the UK’s Creative Industries to OECD’s Competitive Cities and UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. The purpose of this paper is to analyse and examine the problems and difficulties embedded in the GBR concept with the application of a creative cities policy tool, namely the evaluation of the strength of cultural and creative industries in the region and what lessons we may learn in order to enhance their growth as contributions to the competitiveness and creativity of the region.

The Concepts of Creative City and Cluster We propose to analyze the rationale of GBA in two dimensions: culture and economy. Under the discourse on culture, creative cities are the driver of cultural renaissance and artistic/cultural creativity, demonstrating the heritage, tradition and cultural achievement of a place in order to attract visitors and/or to serve the purpose of economic development or urban regeneration. The European Capital of Culture programme, launched in 1985, offers an example showing how cities can be re-engineered and repackaged to promote the good cause of culture and economy (European Union 2019). By gaining the prestigious title, the successful applicant cities could then organize a series of cultural programmes and events to promote the city’s brand at both local and international scales. Examples include Hong Kong government’s brand of ‘Creative Capital in Asia’ (HKSAR 2007; Karvelyte 2018), the Singaporean government policy for promoting the ‘Renaissance City’ (Kong 2012), the ‘Branded Cities’ in George Town and Melaka in Malaysia based on the active promotion of cultural heritage sites (Lai and Ooi 2015). These all underpin a similar rationale to frame the functional use of culture in the urban context,



revealing how creativity, culture and heritage values are objectified and mediated towards the goal of economic development in the context of city marketing at both regional and global scales. Another dimension of the creative-city rationale focuses on the economic engine of cities. Grounded on the theory of agglomeration economics, cities are seen as catchment areas for economic actors and dynamic forces, where the actors’ intensive interactions and the relative concentration of firms, industries and economic activities play a clustering effect favourable to economic growth (Sassen 1991). The clustering effect of a city promotes outstanding economic performances and outcomes for the city, yielding a higher chance of generating diversity, creativity and innovation than other economic entities organized in a more dispersed mode. In agglomeration economics, the clustering effect is a result of the scale of economy, competitive forces and network effects that promote the economic development of a place (Sassen 2000; Karlsson 2008). This general thesis of agglomeration economics applied to the analysis of the industrial sector is well supported by a rich pool of research findings. For example, the agglomeration models has been applied in explaining the variety of industrial districts in Italy (Paniccia 2002). The examination of the different aspects and dynamics of the clustering phenomenon on a wide range of economic sectors and industries from tourism, health, financial services, information and communication technologies (ICT), biotechnology, audiovisual, film and media to culture in both the European and American contexts has been instructive (van den Berg et  al. 2017; Cooke and Lazzeretti 2008, Cooke and Schwartz 2007). Yet the challenge we explore in what follows is how city/regional governments translate these understandings into policy. Given the variations of local contexts, what cultural, economic and political parameters would operate for, or against, the policy aspirations of the creative city. In this regard, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area offers an interesting and important case study. Policy and Concept of the Greater Bay Area The signing of the ‘Framework Agreement on Deepening Guangdong-­ Hong Kong-Macao Cooperation in the Development of the Greater Bay Area’ on 1 July 2018 in Hong Kong formalised the plan for the Greater Bay’s development. The GBA plan aims to build a world-class city cluster, seeking developmental cooperation and integration across the



Guangdong-Hong Kong and Macao region. The GBA comprises the two special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macao, and the nine municipalities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing in Guangdong Province. The development of the GBA concept, which could be seen as an upgrade from the Outline of the Plan for the Reform and Development of the Pearl River Delta (PRD) announced in 2008, actually stemmed from a much longer history of economic and cultural exchange. While some critics suggested that the GBA concept is somewhat similar to the PRD plan, with the Outline Development Plan published by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, the GBA plan was elevated to a national strategy (Lo 2019). It shows the national government’s determination to foster innovation. The increased trade tension between the U.S. and the PRC, most notable in the ZTE and Huawei ban, has prompted President Xi Jinping to urge China to pursue self-reliance in technology and innovation, saying, ‘we [should] hold innovative development tightly in our own hands.’ (Lo 2018) The appropriation of the Bay Area concept emulates other global case studies situated in New York, Tokyo and San Francisco, and demonstrates what Graeme Evans called ‘policy transfer and emulation’ (2009: 1003). Policy transfer or policy emulation can be dangerous with ‘the use of secondary ‘evidence and rationales…imported as proxy for endogenous knowledge and resource.’ (Ibid) A comparison of different Bay economies done by the One Country Two Systems Research Institute shows that the GBA is 1.5 times larger than Tokyo Bay Area (Fang 2018). Its population is 8.7 times more than the San Francisco Bay Area yet GDP per capita is only one-fifth its volume. It goes without saying that GBA is very different from those it seeks to emulate. Differences Across the Greater Bay Area The inclusion of the two Special Administrative Regions (SARs) in the GBA also sets it apart from other bay areas. The ‘One Country, Two systems’ was recognized as a ‘composite advantage’ in which Hong Kong could benefit from larger markets and land resources in the Guangdong area, while the Mainland could benefit from the sophisticated financial and legal systems and high-skill talents in Hong Kong. Economic integration and cooperation has its roots in the 1980s when many Hong Kong manufacturing industries relocated to the PRD.  Industries in Hong Kong



benefitted from low labour costs in the PRD and successfully transformed Hong Kong into a service economy (Feng 2014, Tao and Wong 2002). Hong Kong once served as a springboard for enterprises in the Mainland to access international markets, and in particular to help mainland companies to access capital from global financial markets (Sassen 2006, Chiu and Lok 2009). Hong Kong was also a symbol of openness and internationalization. Qianhai Free Trade area in Shekou aspires to be the ‘second central,’ (Fang 2018) and other places in Qianhai are named as ‘Mong Kok,’ ‘Tsim Sha Tsui,’ and ‘Causeway Bay’ to make it sound like Hong Kong (Chi 2018). Despite this, there are challenges presented by the ‘One Country, Two Systems’. The complexity of scaffolding platforms above and across different administrative zones should not be underestimated. Some critics jokingly commented: ‘one bay area, two systems, three independent tariff zones, four core cities,’ alluding to the PRC’s propaganda slogans (Li and Wang 2018). The construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge went through budget overruns and construction delays. People raised safety concerns over the drifting of the massive concrete blocks beneath the water, to which one senior official from the Mainland Chinese Authority responded, ‘we have our ways to do it, and you [Hong Kong] may have your ways to do it’ (Sum 2018). The opaque manner of handling mega public projects worried the Hong Kong population, especially in terms of future liability and maintenance (Zhao 2018). After the completion of the bridge, major logistics firms refrained from using it because the rules of the different customs authorities were still unclear (Ma 2019). The technical details on how to resolve the administrative differences will take time to sort out. There is also a sense of mistrust from Hong Kong towards the Mainland. The co-location arrangements of the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link had sparked heated debates. Although the bill was finally passed in the Legislative council, it had faced much opposition. The pro-democracy parties perceived it as unconstitutional and a violation of the autonomy of Hong Kong (Chung et al. 2018). At the time of writing, Hong Kong was experiencing waves of anti-government protests questioning the legal system in Mainland China. The common sight of protestors desecrating the national flag reflected their frustrations and fears regarding the communist regime in Mainland China (Sum 2018).



The integration of Hong Kong into the GBA would inevitably touch upon sensitive issues over the legal and administrative autonomy of HK.  Back in 2010 when the Qianhai plan was announced, people suspected the plan was to make Hong Kong replaceable and to weaken HK’s competitive advantages (HKEJ 2010). Grace Leung, for example, interpreted the GBA plan as an attempt to narrow down the differences between Hong Kong and PRD cities, a form of ‘coercive isomorphism’ (Leung 2019: 184–186). By isomorphism, Leung cited Hawley, defining it as ‘a constraining process that forces one unit in a population to resemble other units that face the same set of environmental conditions’ (Leung 2019: 185). The isomorphism in the GBA seems to adhere to both rules of ‘competition’ and ‘institution’ (DiMaggio and Powell 1991: 66). Under the competition model, organisations will adopt efficient structures and practices from ‘relatively better-shaped rivals;’ under the institutional model, social pressures, ‘mimetic’ and ‘normative,’ coming from regulatory powers, shape institutional responses through coercion (Leung 2019: 185). GBA as a Local Experiment of the Belt and Road Initiative The GBA development as a national policy can be seen as a by-product of the much grander vision of Xi Jinping for China’s role in global development ‘the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)’, first announced during his official visit to Indonesia and Kazakhstan in 2013. The BRI is China’s global development strategy involving infrastructural development and investment in participating countries to enhance regional connectivity for mutual benefit and growth. The GBA was specifically mentioned in the 6th Section of the Action Plan describing how China would pursue the opening up of its many regions to advance the BRI, where Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan are listed with all coastal regions as ‘boasting a high level of openness, robust economic strength and a strong catalytic role.’1 The object of inclusion is to ‘motivate these areas to carry out deeper reform, create new systems and mechanisms for the open economy, step up scientific and technological innovation, develop new advantages for participating in, and leading, international cooperation and competition, and become the pacesetter and main force in the BRI.’ It is very clear from this articulation that the GBA carries with it the mission of creativity and innovation, not only with science and technology, but also with systems and mechanisms arising from the demands of



the creation of a new and open economy. As the integration and collaboration of China with its international partners would face many unknown challenges, the GBA would be an ideal pilot for all these new experiments.

The GBA Outstanding CCI Awards Divergence of the Hong Kong and Mainland CCI Development Owing to the fact that Hong Kong and the rest of the GBA cities are located in separate administrative regions, the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI) demonstrate significantly different patterns of development. The primary difference between the two regions lies in the driving forces that determine the direction and growth of these industries. This divergence has led not only to difficulties in the evaluation of CCI across cities in the GBA. Up until 2019, there were no standards for the recognition of the contribution of CCI to the GBA’s economy. It led to the establishment of the ‘Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Outstanding Cultural and Creative Industries Awards’ (henceforth Awards) by The Hang Seng University of Hong Kong as an effort to construct a fair framework for a comprehensive evaluation and commendation. The starting point of the Awards is to recognize the vital importance of CCI in Chinese national policy. In 2017, the Chinese Ministry of Culture released the ‘13.5 Period Cultural and Industry Development Plan’ stating2, To develop the cultural industries is to satisfy the diverse spiritual needs of the general public, which will serve as an important means to enhance the quality of life and happiness of society. Therefore, cultural industry is the primary medium to transform the prestige of Chinese culture, realize China’s dream, deepen the core values of Socialism and, none the less, empower the country’s soft power.

The Plan stipulated that CCI in China will be transformed to the same level as the other economic pillars in China, namely the agricultural, industrial, financial and servicing sectors. This strategic vision, echoed another policy from the State Council—‘Mass Entrepreneurship and Innovation’, which is sometimes shortened into ‘Double Innovation’. It calls for local government to improve the social context around four different elements



essential to creating an ideal soil for nurturing start-ups and creativity. They are improvement to fair competition in the market; deepening reforms in the business registration system; strengthening protection on intellectual property; and creating a comprehensive mechanism for talent cultivation and upward mobility.3 However, this skeleton Plan only provides a general framework and it is down to provincial or even municipal governments to interpret the plan. Within a year after the release of the Plan, the relevant local bodies in the GBA drafted their cultural policies accordingly. As an illustration, Guangdong Province Cultural Sector 13.5 Development Scheme listed the core aims and reform projects to be conducted in the coming five years. The Zhongshan Municipal Government then published the Zhongshan Municipal Cultural Sector and Industry 13.5 Development Scheme, further detailing local projects and the allocation of resources, comprising the expansion of cultural infrastructure, digital platforms, traditional arts centers and large-scale cultural festivals and events. These policy efforts stressed the changing goals for policies from ‘organizing culture (banwenhua) to a managing culture (guanwenhua) mindset, so as to empower governmental guidance, incubation and supervision, which will result in a more efficient growth of these industries.’4 It is therefore very clear that China’s CCI have grown within this state-­ guided environment. Hong Kong’s government, on the contrary, abided strongly by the principles of ‘Positive Non-Interventionism’ and ‘Big Market, Small Government’ when dealing with the CCIs. Although the Hong Kong government did acknowledge the significant presence of CCI, it has yet to set any overall agenda for their direction of growth. The only action that the government formulated for the CCIs is the regular publication of an annual statistical report. The Census and Statistics Department (2019) categorized CCI in Hong Kong into eleven distinct groups and the Department offered insight into the employment, traded goods and service of each groups in the report. This is not to say that the government did not develop any policies for CCIs. There are government bodies providing assistance, usually in financial forms, to specific CCI groups. For example, CreateHK, a dedicated agency under the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, was set up in 2009 to provide public funds that individuals, organizations and private corporates may apply to finance their business. CreateSmart Initiatives, the Film Development Fund Scheme and the First Feature Film Initiative are some of the schemes funded via CreateHK. However, many of the funded projects have limited



scope due to resource constraints, and only serve very specific target groups. Hence, the CCI in Hong Kong are largely market-led, influenced by business opportunities, changes in social taste and global trends. There is a great discrepancy between the traits of CCI in Hong Kong and those in the rest of the GBA cities. The Hong Kong CCI are not products of state ideology and policy. Despite this, there is increasing collaboration in cultural production and consumption, with or without government intervention. And both Hong Kong and mainland China stand to gain from the trend of integration. Formulating an Integrated Platform for Fair Evaluation Given the contradictory nature of CCI in the GBA, it was clear that the establishment of the Awards would meet a two-fold-challenge. First, Hong Kong and China have different categorization systems for CCI. In Hong Kong, CCI are arranged into eleven domains, meanwhile in the latest categorization of 2018, mainland China CCIs are arranged into nine domains, each with dozens of sub-domains. Therefore, not only does mainland China arrange the categories differently, it consists of sectors that are not identified as CCI in Hong Kong, such as the eighth domain, ‘Cultural Equipment Production,’—which covers equipment for printing, television broadcasting, film-making, performing arts and music instruments. These activities are only labeled as general industrial manufacturing within Hong Kong. Consequently, the CCI in both administrative regions are not directly comparable. The second challenge derives from the fact that Hong Kong CCIs commonly have a strong leading association in each sector, conducting research and organizing awards specific to each Industry. In mainland China, on the contrary, the role of industry associations within cities is relatively weak. Provincial or municipal governments would take the lead in organizing charts of ‘Top 100 CCI companies in X city’ or ‘20 Best CCI companies in Y province.’ However, the selection process and judging criteria of such charts were mostly rather opaque, effectively minimizing their representativeness. Even with the aid of the charts, there remains a real lack of survey and other data on individual companies’ performance. The Hang Seng University research team devised a two-phase shortlisting methodology based on the records (2016–18) of CCI companies winning similar competitions and awards of national, provincial, municipal or sectoral importance, as well as all GBA CCI companies listed in the stock



market. After reviewing a total of 543 companies, 140 candidates were selected for Phase 2 of the competition, which was conducted through a grading process by a panel of five expert scholars from Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Macao and Hong Kong. The judgement criteria was based on six considerations: . Content, Product, Business Model & Technological Innovation 1 2. Market Influence & Exemplary Performance 3. International Competitiveness 4. Historical and Cultural Qualities 5. Economic Performance 6. Charity and Social Impact All GBA CCI companies were categorized according to the Mainland system of classification of cultural industries, with the addition of the 8th category ‘Commendations’ open to nomination by the judging panel for outstanding companies considered to be worthy of the award yet who had fallen through the selection process and criteria (Table 15.1). A total of twenty winners were selected and the Awards ceremony was successfully held in Hong Kong on 6 September 2019.

Table 15.1  The Eight Award categories for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area outstanding cultural and creative industries awards Group


Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Group 5 Group 6 Group 7 Group 8

News / Internet Information Service Content Innovation & Production Creative Design Service Cultural Dissemination Channel Cultural Entertainment Service Cultural Production Assistance & Agency Service Cultural Equipment Production Commendations Total

Candidates 13 55 34 6 9 15 8 – 140

Awardees 1a 6 4 1 1 2 1 4 20

a Originally two winners were allocated by proportion to Group 1 but one winner withdrew, leaving the group with just one winner



Creativity in the GBA Cities: Similarity or Difference? Competition and Risk Hedging The development of the PRD region has placed its cities on a much more level playing field. Hong Kong’s economic importance to China’s economy is diminishing, with its contribution to China’s GDP falling from a peak of 27 per cent in 1993 to less than 3 per cent in 2017 (HKEJ 2017). Though not without its critics, the integration of Hong Kong into the GBA was presented as a benevolent gesture aimed at saving Hong Kong from its various development bottlenecks (Fang 2018; Leung 2019). As presented by Joe Fang, Hong Kong faces various critical challenges including land shortage, unmet household demands, distorted job markets, political tensions, discontent amongst the youth, and so on. The GBA presents an opportunity for Hong Kong to resolve these problems (Fang 2018). This can be achieved by placing Hong Kong in the competitive environment of GBA.  The new plan announced by Beijing on 18 August 2019, launching wide-ranging reforms for Shenzhen, can be seen as attempting to hedge the developmental risks of Hong Kong. The plan allows more flexibility in terms of currency conversion, political participation, changes in laws and regulations, and so on, aiming to make Shenzhen a model city by 2025. An associate professor of law at Beihang University in Beijing was reported as saying, In the future, the reform and opening up of the Greater Bay Area will focus on the mainland instead of Hong Kong…the traditional advantages of Hong Kong are fading and it is getting more difficult for central government’s policies to be implemented there. (Ma, Wong and Xie 2019)

Shenzhen’s development, however rapid, did not come overnight. With its GDP accounting for 22.3 per cent of the region’s total, Shenzhen surpassed Hong Kong in its economic contribution to the GBA by 2018 (Gaffney 2019). Shenzhen is currently the base of the nation’s leading technology firms including Huawei, Tencent, ZTE, Foxconn, DJI and another three million businesses, with a 4% of the city’s GDP amounting to $14.9 billion in investment in tech research and development, a figure matched by South Korea and Israel (Xin Hua Net 2019). According to



JLL’s recent study on ‘Mapping Innovation Geographies,’ Shenzhen was ranked 14 while Hong Kong was completely off the chart (JLL 2020). It is believed that by grouping them, more opportunities for creativity and innovation may be generated as the solution to Hong Kong’s development problems. Opportunities for Innovation and Creativity Enabled by Huge Consumption Market The result is astounding from our research. Early movers to the GBA reported that Mainland China’s huge market offered them different development opportunities. The founder and chief brand officer of EJJ Jewelry, Elaine Shiu, a tech-savvy brand that adopts 3D printing in jewelry design, suggested that the Hong Kong market is conservative and skeptical towards technology whilst consumers in the GBA embrace technology and innovative design (Kaiyi 2019). Perhaps the sizeable market in Mainland China allows the coexistence of a good variety of products. Similar views were also expressed by Rocco Yim, who commented that the market in Mainland China more readily accepts multiple architectural styles, and therefore, architectural style is more diversified in the GBA than in Hong Kong (Keung 2019). In addition to the difference in consumption cultures, sheer market size is also important for the development of innovative products and services. A start-up company in Hong Kong, developing robotic arms for Glaucoma diagnostics, moved to the GBA for the bigger available sample size in order to speed up the research process. The large sample size helped the company to significantly shorten the time taken on research and expeditiously launched the product (HKET 2019). Foster Yim, a Barrister-in-­ Law, also an advocate of legaltech, lamented that Hong Kong is lagging behind in adopting legal technologies. Whilst Hong Kong is still struggling with the notarisation of internet-based evidence, there is already an online court in Mainland China which has livestreamed 2.4 million trials since 2016 (Thomson and Liu 2019). According to Thomson Reuters, the number of patents related to legaltech has risen more than fourfold from 202 in 2013 to 933 in 2018. More than 51 per cent of the patents were filed in China, only 23 per cent in the U.S. and 11 per cent in South Korea (Thomson and Liu 2019).



Conclusion The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area was proposed at a critical juncture, when China wished to strive for innovation and self-­ reliance in the global competition for talent and capital. It was a concept complementary to that of the Belt and Road Initiative, aiming at an even greater conglomeration of cities and countries across continents. As a pilot test for integration and collaboration at a regional level, the GBA concept exposes the various problems and challenges facing the differences of systems and practices even across territories with the same Chinese sovereignty. However, the case of cultural and creative industries proves that these difficulties and challenges are not unmanageable—the GBA Outstanding CCIs Awards proved to be a promising lead towards a regional collaborative approach in policy transfer, overcoming contradictions inherent in regional policies and the ‘One Country Two Systems’ ideology. The Awards demonstrate that a common framework of assessment and evaluation highlights the differences, as well as similarities, for the achievements of the awardee companies which will gain further momentum when they expand beyond the GBA to the Belt and Road context, thus contributing to China’s aspiration to build its dream of a common humanity across the globe.

Notes 1. Full text: Action plan on the Belt and Road Initiative, Accessed January 23, 2020. 2. Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China. The 13th Five-year plan for the Development of Cultural Industries, 2017, 3. State Council’s views on the policy measures for vigorously promoting widespread entrepreneurship and innovation, 16th June, 2015,; State Council’s guiding opinions on accelerating the construction of widespread entrepreneurship and innovation support platform, 26 September 2015,



4. Zhongshan People’s Government. The 13th Five-year plan for the Development of Cultural Industries in Zhongshan, 2017, http://

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Creative City Policy in Second-Tier Cities: The case of Chiang Mai, Thailand Phitchakan Chuangchai

Introduction Chiang Mai, a city in the northern part of Thailand, has been a popular destination among tourists for the last few decades. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (2019) promotes Chiang Mai as ‘one of the few places in Thailand where it is possible to experience both historical and modern Thai culture coexisting side by side: the city features centuries-old pagodas and temples next to modern convenience stores and boutique hotels’. This publicity piece sets the scene for Chiang Mai as a city of traditional and modern culture. As a second-tier city, Chiang Mai experiences rapid urban growth in more recent years. The Creative City discourse has become a popular concept across the globe after some European cities have gained a significant de-­ industrialisation (Bianchini and Parkinson 1994; Landry and Bianchini 1995). Charles Landry and Franco Bianchini propose the idea of the Creative City in their DEMOS publication in 1995 by offering the

P. Chuangchai (*) College of Innovation, Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand © The Author(s) 2020 X. Gu et al. (eds.), Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia,




solution of using culture and creativity to solve the urban problem of post-­ industrial cities. Since the launch of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in 2004, the Creative City concept has become a policy trend that many cities adopted and has quickly spread beyond the confines of Europe and America to the Global South, including cities in Thailand. In the urban context of Thailand, the discourse has changed from focusing on urban problems to economic development of cities. This overly economic-centred approach has attracted significant criticisms. Many scholars begin to articulate how such economic centric creative cities policy could result in further inequality in cities (Mould 2015; Peck 2005; Pratt 2009, 2011). Even for cities trying to incorporate non-­ economic agendas in its development, the notion of creative cities tends to write off any social concerns within local cultural policy (Mould 2015; O’Connor and Andrejevic 2017; Vickery 2011). The ‘Bilbao effect’ in West Bromwich in the UK (Wainwright 2013) and Avilés in Spain (Moore 2017; Tremlett 2011) are inspirational examples for other cities. These quick-fix attempts are often made at the expense of evidence-based, long-term planning and do not sufficiently build on local distinctiveness and resources, and tend to be unsustainable (United Nations Environment Programme 2015). Some label Creative City policy as ‘fast policy’ (Peck 2005), the ‘Xerox’ approach (Pratt 2009), or ‘cookie-­ cutter’ models of policy making (Oakley 2004). It is said to meet the demands of the global market for rapid economic growth. However, when it is applied outside of the developed Western contexts, the Creative City policy is no longer a provocation for developing an urban imaginary capable of realising the cities’ potential but for places to catch up with the West, often with unsatisfactory results. As Kong and O’Connor (2009) argue, its implementation outside of European and North American context is a bit ambiguous and lost in translation. Cities are complex entities, and they are different in numerous ways from geography to population, culture and values. The Creative City approach is typically welcomed without thorough consideration of the city’s assets and differences. Copying examples from the West like Glasgow and Bilbao means that Southeast Asian cities expose themselves to unknown long-term impacts of neoliberalisation affecting the existing cultural fabric and social values of one’s local creative economy. As a second-tier city, Chiang Mai is prone to neoliberal ideology when following Western creative cities trajectories. Economic prosperity is often



framed as ‘good’ for all without forces in place to balance the negative impact of economic development. This is because Chiang Mai’s governance model is not similar to that of Western democratic countries. State provision of cultural infrastructures is still the norm and local cultural industries are not fully formed for free market competition. Bearing these pre-conditions in mind, this chapter explores the extent of how Chiang Mai’s Creative City discourse—framed by market competition, individualism and profit making—has led to a precarious future for many small and medium enterprises in the local creative industries. This chapter is based on in-depth interviews with key stakeholders and key agencies involved in policy implementation at the local and national levels. It discusses the types of resources that have been mobilised towards the formulation of a creative city policy through Chiang Mai’s historical background. This is followed by an analysis of the governance issue on how policymakers communicate the policy agenda and how they engage with community in the making of the creative city. Finally, this chapter identifies key challenges for the governance of the Chiang Mai creative city to be more inclusive and sustainable.

The Development of Chiang Mai as a Creative City Chiang Mai is considered Thailand’s capital in the north because it is the centre of transport, trade and tourism. It is about 696 kilometres (432.5 miles) from Bangkok and covers an area of approximately 20,107 square kilometres (8,000 square miles), which makes Chiang Mai the second largest province in Thailand. Chiang Mai is populated by 1,763,742 people (as of 2018: Official statistics registration systems 2019). Much like other provinces in Thailand, Chiang Mai’s leading economies include agriculture, tourism, and trading (Bank of Thailand 2017). As a secondtier city, Chiang Mai has undergone rapid development in the last decade. Many factors are at work in developing the creative industries and dealing with the creative atmosphere of the city. The starting point for Chiang Mai’s creative city re-imagining was a meeting between the government, the business sector and universities on the lack of job opportunity in the city. Universities in Chiang Mai produce a large number of graduate students, but the unemployment rate is high



amongst them (Creative Chiang Mai 2017). Chiang Mai established Creative Chiang Mai in 2010, a Creative City policy that aims to create more jobs and opportunities for university graduates and for them to stay in the city. Chiang Mai Creative City Development Committee was formed to ‘generate economic development and diversification, attract new investment, and create new jobs and opportunities’ by promoting creativity and innovation in Chiang Mai (Creative Chiang Mai 2017). Creative Chiang Mai takes a broad definition of ‘creativity’ from international organisations like UNCTAD and defines the use of creativity in the broadest term possible—scientifically, technically, culturally, artistically, and economically (ibid). They look at creativity and innovation in the economy as a whole, and innovation is viewed as a significant driving force of the creative economy (Creative Chiang Mai 2017). The agency focuses on digital content IT, software, and functional design industries (ibid). Chiang Mai University Science and Technology Park (CMU STeP) worked as the secretariat of Creative Chiang Mai (ibid). Focusing on the design industry, Creative Chiang Mai applied for the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in the ‘design’ category in order to open the new market for the city since Chiang Mai already has a strong craft industry market (Venzky-Stalling 2017). Projects run by Creative Chiang Mai such as Chiang Mai Design Awards (CDA), TEDxChiangMai, and handmadeChiangMai are supported by partners like the British Council and the US Consulate General. In 2012, the annual Chiang Mai Design Awards was launched, and the awarding ceremony has become a part of the annual Chiang Mai Design Week, led by Thailand Creative and Design Centre, Chiang Mai. Despite the publicity and investment, Chiang Mai is unable to develop its design industry fully and was unsuccessful in its application to UNESCO Creative Cities Network under the design category. Chiang Mai Provincial Administrative Organisation has taken on the challenge again in 2014 and appointed Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Fine Arts to lead the project since it specialises in arts and crafts. The team goes by the name ‘Chiang Mai City of Crafts and Folk Art’ and emphasises activities that connect locals to the traditional crafts and folk art of the city such as ‘Crafts with Hearts … for Young Gen’ and ‘Chiang Mai Lisu Twine Knotting.’ These are mostly hands-on activities that encourage individuals to interact with local culture. In 2017, Chiang Mai has finally become a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in the ‘crafts and folk art’ category (Chiang Mai City of Crafts and Folk Art 2019).



Chiang Mai has hosted Thailand Creative and Design Centre (TCDC) since 2013 after TCDC Bangkok opened in 2005. TCDC Chiang Mai is under the Office of Knowledge Management and Development (OKMD), which is a part of the Office of the Prime Minister and whose budget comes from the Bureau of Budget. TCDC Chiang Mai, therefore, aligns more with national than local policies when it comes to creative industries development. It is observed that TCDC Chiang Mai’s programs and activities do not have any connection to the local (Buakeow 2017). This has been a challenge for TCDC that it strives to overturn by building more connection with the local design communities. Chiang Mai also has many universities that teach design, which has attracted TCDC to locate here in the first place. However, TCDC has discovered that the design of local craft industry is highly shaped by foreign tastes (Buakeow 2017). The orders are mostly from outside of Chiang Mai. Moreover, universities produce small group of design students (30–40 per year), leaving a big gap of design talents. Moreover, design in Chiang Mai is more influenced by traditional arts than by contemporary design trends. Therefore, it is hard for TCDC Chiang Mai to implement design thinking in the formation of a local craft industry (Buakeow 2017). Chiang Mai’s traditional wood-based crafts face fierce competition from the craft industry in other cities in Southeast Asia like Cebu in the Philippines (ibid). TCDC Chiang Mai’s primary mission has become increasingly linked to the transformation of the local design industry in meeting modern standards and creating more jobs for local young designers. In Chiang Mai, the adoption of the Creative City discourse is coordinated at different levels of governance. In Thailand’s 12th National Economic and Social Development Plan (2018–2021), the national government aims to develop the northern region as a creative economy hub by having Chiang Mai as the centre of trading, services, health service, education, and digital economy (Office of National Economic and Social Development Council 2018). At the city level, the Chiang Mai Provincial Administrative Organisation aims to develop Chiang Mai as a ‘City of Life and Prosperity’ by working on two projects regarding the creative city development: Chiang Mai City of Crafts and Folk Art (started in 2014) and the preparation for the UNESCO World Heritage Site application (started in 2016).



These efforts do not purport a national strategy that is translatable at local levels. Since there are many creative city bodies, many projects from these actors have similar goals and have yielded an overlapping agenda. For example, handmade-Chiangmai is a website that provides information on selected traditional and contemporary products on the craft industry in Chiang Mai (handmade-Chiangmai 2017). It is a project of Creative Chiang Mai and the Northern Handicrafts Manufacturers and Exporters Association (NOHMEX), whose works overlap with Chiang Mai City of Crafts and Folk Art. These two projects have similar objectives, and they tend to not collaborate with each other for fear of losing public funding. This has led to waste of resources and public funding (Boonyasurat 2017; Buakeow 2017; Venzky-Stalling 2017). Moreover, these government funded initiatives are exclusive for their members with limited scope for public participation.

Governance and Participation The urban realities of the creative city making in Chiang Mai demonstrate that its citizens do not understand Creative City policy imposed by local and national governments because of their disconnection with global context from which the creative narrative emerges. There is lack of participation from its citizens and the various groups of actors that can lead to problems of marginalisation and unsustainable development of the city. This study argues that the Creative City discourse in Chiang Mai is more reliant on market mechanism because of the lack of local politics as a response to global cultural policy. The neoliberal governance is a complex issue and its ideology can be influenced by different political and social contexts (Bevir 2007). It has varying impact on public sector reforms (ibid). The introduction of creative city policy in Chiang Mai tends to break down existing social fabrics of the city by making it more dependent on external markets and by prioritising individualism, utilitarianism and profit rationalism—all of which are alien to Thai culture. Through a borrowed concept of ‘creative cities’, neoliberalism normalises free market competition that has been curtailed by strong social bonds in Thailand’s cultural sector. Neoliberal governance takes different forms in the development of creative cities. Costa et al. (2007, 2008) suggest three axes of creative city



governance model: (1) national versus local/regional, (2) policy intervention versus the influence of non-policies, and (3) public versus non-public projects. Most European practices seem to be at a regional/local governance level. These countries do not have an integrated national strategy for the sector but national strategies for a specific subsector can be found quite often. As the policy trend travels to East Asia, countries like Singapore, Malaysia and China begin to invest heavily in the creative industries at the national level (Lee and Lim 2014). In Chiang Mai’s case, there are diverse governance level in relation to creative city policymaking: TCDC is from the national level, Chiang Mai City of Crafts and Folk Art is from the regional/local governance level, and Creative Chiang Mai is a local non-profit organisation. Costa et al. (2008) argue that in terms of the creative city policies, the regional/local level of governance seems to be the most effective, as it touches on some dimensions that are not covered by national models of governance. TCDC Chiang Mai proves this theory for its lack of attention towards local issues. The director of TCDC Chiang Mai recognises the alienation of the programme in relation to Chiang Mai. For example, TCDC Chiang Mai’s projects and services like the TCDC Resource Centre (offering creative and design resource) and Material ConneXion® Chiang Mai (showcasing materials from world-class designers) do not fit with Chiang Mai’s identity and creative industries built around the arts and crafts. The local governance exemplified by Chiang Mai City of Crafts and Folk Art and Creative Chiang Mai are more likely to support local initiatives such as ‘handmade-Chiangmai’ (an online platform connecting craft communities in Chiang Mai) and ‘Crafts for life’ exhibition and workshop. Another characteristic of the creative city governance model from Costa et al.’s analysis is policy intervention versus non-policies—a combination of public policy and community initiatives (2008). There is a lack of community initiatives in the imagining of Chiang Mai creative city. All three creative city bodies influence the making of Chiang Mai as a creative city through their projects and creative activities from top down. Moreover, Costa et  al. (2008: 409) point out the creative city governance model between the public versus non-public projects: Besides these governance models are mainly based on public projects, there are governance strategies that are the outcome of non-public will (even if



they are in part publicly funded). Such projects are mainly the product of non-profit organisations such as associations, foundations or agencies funded with public and/or private money.

From Costa et al.’s observation, there are two main dimensions to the way the cities work: (a) the promotion of a specific creative activity/sub-­ sector, and (b) the promotion of a geographic area (region, city, quarter, district, borough, and so on) in its diversity of creative activities. This creative city governance model explains the form of the three actors in Chiang Mai—Creative Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai City of Crafts and Folk Art, and TCDC Chiang Mai—in the specific geographic area (Chiang Mai) and specific creative industries (design and craft) that they are promoting. Drawing from this analysis, it can be seen that the differences of Chiang Mai from western post-industrial cities in terms of society, culture, governance, etc. show that Chiang Mai’s development as a creative city has been done solely by each associated policy body. It can also be argued that there is little to no participation between these groups of actors even if they are working towards the same goal of developing the city. Lack of Participation Participation is an essential element of a democratic society, which ensures that citizens are given freedom to make choices about their lives and develop their potential as human beings. By encouraging a democratic society, it assures the opposition to the work of neoliberalism, as today’s neoliberalism, grounded in the desire to afford individuals more freedom for their market-based initiatives, privileges those who have the economic, social, and political power to make the market work for them. Gone is any political momentum toward a more equal democracy. (Wells et al. 2002)

In Chiang Mai’s case, instead of connecting groups of people, the discourse has further divided them by favouring those who have all the privileges and financial capital and are likely to be able to influence the market. This is evident in flagship projects like the annual Chiang Mai Design Week, which is a week-long festival that aims to share and exchange knowledge between local and international designers and creators. However, the reality is that it is still dominated by international creators and local creators who are mostly well-established artists.



The Creative City discourse stresses the importance of participation in the process of creative city making. In 1996, Landry et al. discuss the benefits of participatory arts programmes that will involve citizens. They argue that participation offer a route to personal development which suits how people learn about communication, personal effectiveness and self-reliance, and have shown their attraction for those who have found conventional education opportunities inappropriate. As a result, participation can improve and widen life choices and give confidence to individuals, who often become key agents in restoring vitality and confidence within local communities. This process has produced a wide range of positive impacts (Landry et al. 1996: 31).

Participation enhances social cohesion, improves the local image, reduces offending behaviour, develops self-confidence, promotes interest in the local environment, builds private and public sector partnerships, explores identities, enhances organisational capacity, supports independence, and explores visions of the future (Landry et  al. 1996: 31–33). Moreover, in Landry’s seminal work The Creative City, he argues that the city’s most critical resource is its people, and emphasises participation of citizens in the creative city making. He states, Human cleverness, desires, motivations, imagination and creativity are replacing location, natural resources and market access as urban resources. The creativity of those who live in and run cities will determine future success (Landry 2000: 51).

Based on the field interviews, participation in Chiang Mai exists among certain key individuals and certain organisations like Creative Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai City of Crafts and Folk Art, and TCDC Chiang Mai. In Chiang Mai’s urban scene, these three leading organisations make up the Creative City project and have their own goals to achieve. In this sense, people’s participation only happens at the level of each creative city body and not among these groups. The question remains as to how limited participation is and how exclusive and specific it is to particular interest groups. The pieces of evidence have shown that the Chiang Mai creative city governance model makes participation limited to stakeholders only. Hence, this can lead to further problems of marginalisation and unsustainable development.



Marginalisation and Unsustainable Development In Chiang Mai, the implementation of the Creative City policy is both top-down and bottom-up. Projects from the Creative Chiang Mai are implemented bottom-up, while those from the Chiang Mai City of Crafts and Folk Art and TCDC Chiang Mai are approached top-down. The decisionmakers for the creative city policies from the Chiang Mai City of Crafts and Folk Art and the TCDC Chiang Mai are those in power in the central and local governments. For Creative Chiang Mai, there is a committee of 50 individuals comprising business people, scholars, and government officers. The group’s composition already shows the wealth and power that they hold. In this case, the bottom-up approach does not always mean that there is participation by the locals, but that people implementing the policy have a high-­ranking social status. Therefore, this study argues that the Creative City discourse in Chiang Mai creates cultural elites that reproduce a social hierarchy. People who are involved in the making of Chiang Mai as a creative city hold power and gain even more power from the process. Without a balance from local and central governments, the city has become a place for certain groups of people who ‘belong’. These people are then placed on the top tier of the social ladder. Even when local artists are involved in projects, they will not really belong to this reproduced social class or so-­called ‘creative class’ due to power gained from the social and financial capital of those members of Creative Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai City of Crafts and Folk Art, and TCDC Chiang Mai. This can ultimately lead to the problem of marginalisation. Moreover, for cultural production, there could be a marginalisation of industries as the Creative City discourse limits the field of creativity to small niche areas of specialisation and not broad-based industrial development, where (a) creativity can impact all areas of a city’s industry, (b) creative labour can serve as training for transferable skills and employment prospects, and (c) where labour is interconnected with training and educational institutions. In Chiang Mai, the promoted niche industries are the craft and the design industry. These industries offer projects that help develop participants. However, there are limited resources available for them to develop their full potential as championed in the Creative City discourse. These people end up just supplying the need of capitalism both in the position of labours and creative entrepreneurs. As a consequence, despite the development of craft and design industry, the creative city making in Chiang Mai does not bring sustainable



development to the city, as the focus on design industry discourages the use of local industrial infrastructure. The example of the annual Chiang Mai Design Awards shows that the focus is on contemporary design on broad categories of architecture and interior design, product design, new media design, corporate identity and branding design, packaging design, retail design and product display, and public space design (Creative Chiang Mai 2017). In order to ensure sustainable development, the craft industry as a local creative industry of Chiang Mai should be the central focus of the creative industries development to help sustain the occupations of the locals by bringing new ideas and opportunities to the community. The Creative City policymaking is also mostly top-down with a limitation of citizen participation. Regarding the creative city governance model, all three organisations are under the non-policies intervention (Costa et al. 2007, 2008). Most of the time, the approaches they use to achieve their goals are regulatory, protectionist and lobbyist (ibid). These approaches work but they risk destroying the traditional governance model that has been established for a democratic society with the maximum involvement of citizens. The problems of the discouragement of using local craft industry, limitation of citizen participation, and marginalisation prevent Chiang Mai’s sustainable development.

Conclusion Chiang Mai’s governance of the creative city is trapped by the neoliberal market ideology. The ‘fast policy’ trend of the Creative City has not given policymakers enough time to digest what the Creative City approach is really meant apart from its promised economic benefits. The limitation of such creative city policy is more pronounced in second-tier cities like Chiang Mai, where the need to compete with other cities is steep. Money and numbers have become a measurement of culture when its primary function is to market the city to attract new investments and business opportunities. This chapter, therefore, argues that the governance model of the creative city making in Chiang Mai has limited people’s participation in the city, where they should participate both physically and politically. The creative city governance model also reveals that the discourse has limited the participation of people and between the groups of actors. The impact of the lack of participation in the creative city making in Chiang Mai can lead to the problems of marginalisation and unsustainable development.



The Chiang Mai case presents one of the outcomes of the adoption and implementation of the Creative City approach in second-tier cities. It identifies the risks for creative city policy to standardise the needs and trajectories in developing cultural and creative industries for Chiang Mai. The view that successful creative cities can lead to a competition among global cities can potentially disadvantage second-tier cities in expressing their unique cultural identities unless they can prove their economic viability.

Interviews Boonyasurat, W. Interview by author. Tape recording. Chiang Mai, August 17, 2017. Buakeow, I. Interview by author. Tape recording. Chiang Mai, August 18, 2017. Venzky-Stalling, M.  Interview by author. Tape recording. Chiang Mai, August 16, 2017.

References Bank of Thailand. 2017. Economic and Monetary Report of the Northern Region. NREconReport_DocLib/Report_July_2017.pdf. Bevir, M. 2007. Governance. In Encyclopedia of Governance. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications Inc. Bianchini, Franco, and Michael Parkinson. 1994. Cultural Policy and Urban Regeneration. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Chiang Mai City of Crafts and Folk Art. 2019. Chiang Mai City of Crafts and Folk Art. Costa, Pedro, et al. 2007. A Discussion on the Governance of ‘Creative Cities’: Some Insights for Policy Action. Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift—Norwegian Journal of Geography 61 (3): 122–132. ———. 2008. On ‘Creative Cities’ Governance Models: A Comparative Approach. The Service Industries Journal 28 (3): 393–413. Creative Chiang Mai. 2017. About Creative Chiang Mai. Handmade-Chiangmai. 2017. About Handmade-Chiangmai. Kong, Lily, and Justin O’Connor, eds. 2009. Creative Economy, Creative Cities: Asian-European Perspectives. Berlin: Springer Netherlands. Landry, Charles. 2000. The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators. London: Earthscan. Landry, Charles, and Franco Bianchini. 1995. The Creative City. London: DEMOS.



Landry, Charles, et  al. 1996. The Art of Regeneration: Urban Renewal through Cultural Activity. Glos: Comedia. Lee, Hye-Kyung, and Lorraine Lim. 2014. Cultural Policies in East Asia. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. Moore, Rowan. 2017. The Bilbao Effect: How Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Started a Global Craze. The Guardian, October 1. https://www.theguardian. com/artanddesign/2017/oct/01/bilbao-effect-frank-gehr yguggenheim-global-craze. Mould, Oli. 2015. Urban Subversion and the Creative City. London: Routledge. O’Connor, Justin, and Mark Andrejevic. 2017. Creative Cities and Smart Cities are Nothing but a Corporate Taming of Creativity. City Metric, October 3. h t t p s : / / w w w. c i t y m e t r i c . c o m / b u s i n e s s / c r e a t i v e - c i t i e s and-smart-cities-are-nothing-corporate-taming-creativity-3105. Oakley, Kate. 2004. Not So Cool Britannia: The Role of the Creative Industries in Economic Development. International Journal of Cultural Studies 7 (1): 67–77. Office of National Economic and Social Development Council. 2018. The 12th National Economic and Social Development Plan. ewt_dl_link.php?nid=6422. Official Statistics Registration Systems. 2019. Official Statistics Registration Systems. Peck, Jamie. 2005. Struggling with the Creative Class. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 29 (4): 740–770. Pratt, Andy. 2009. Urban Regeneration: From the Arts “Feel Good” Factor to the Cultural Economy: A Case Study of Hoxton, London. Urban Studies 46 (5/6): 1041–1061. ———. 2011. The Cultural Contradictions of the Creative City. City, Culture and Society 2 (3): 123–130. Tourism Authority of Thailand. 2019. About Chiang Mai. Tremlett, Giles. 2011. Spain’s €44m Niemeyer Centre is Shut in Galleries Glut. The Guardian, 4 October. oct/03/spain-niemeyer-centre-closes. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). 2015. Sustainable Consumption and Production: A Handbook for Policymakers. United Nations Environment Programme. documents/1951Sustainable%20Consumption.pdf. Vickery, Jonathan. 2011. Beyond the Creative City—Cultural Policy in an Age of Scarcity. MADE. BeyondtheCreativeCity.pdf.



Wainwright, Olly. 2013. The Public: An Inevitable End for the Misguided Arts Centre. The Guardian, 15 August. Wells, Amy Stuart, Julie Slayton, and Janelle Scott. 2002. Defining Democracy in the Neoliberal Age: Charter School Reform and Educational Consumption. American Educational Research Journal 39 (2): 337–361.


City of Music: Post-Conflict Branding of Ambon City Nyak Ina Raseuki, Zeffry Alkatiri, and  Sonya Indriati Sondakh

Finding Peace through Music in Post-Conflict Ambon Ambon City1 is the capital of the Maluku Province in eastern Indonesia. The city is known for its music and stunning coastal view. After years of destructive ethnic and religious conflicts, many Ambon residents—who are generally known for their musical prowess—created special songs to remember the fateful day on 19 January 1999 when Muslims and Christians attacked and killed one another.2 The trauma they had suffered from the conflict has encouraged them to accept differences that they will

N. I. Raseuki • S. I. Sondakh (*) Graduate School of Urban Arts and Cultural Industry, Jakarta Institute of the Arts, Jakarta, Indonesia e-mail: [email protected]; [email protected] Z. Alkatiri Department of History, Faculty of Humanities, University of Indonesia, Depok, Indonesia © The Author(s) 2020 X. Gu et al. (eds.), Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia,




encounter in a multicultural city. The government and the people of Ambon eventually learn to heal from the traumatic conflict. In order to change this bitter condition and the negative image attached to their city, they have taken the initiative to transform it into a city of music by believing that music is part of their identity, and discovering and sharing this shared identity. In 2011, the Governor and the Mayor of Ambon expressed their strong intention to turn Ambon into a city of music. UNESCO and the Ambon Creative Economy Agency3 have shown their full support. Then on 29 October 2016 at Lapangan Merdeka, they declared Ambon as the City of Music. At Ambon Bay, the large sign ‘AMBON CITY OF MUSIC’ has been installed along the coast. This branding welcomes every visitor and sends the message that music is an integral part of the townsolk’s life in Ambon and Mollucas islands (Alkatiri 2019: 78). Ambon City of Music has embarked on turning this city into a peaceful tourism city with music as the star. After all the sufferings caused by the seven-year conflict, Ambon City is keen on putting this dark history behind it and moving forward. This chapter examines how the local and central government and the interested parties have embodied the concept of creative cities to resolve ethnic and religious conflicts in Ambon, and change people’s perceptions of the city post-conflict. What are the constraints they are dealing with, and is it realistic for the creative cities agenda to impact the city in noneconomic ways, as claimed by Landry and Biachini (1998)? The discussion on the issues concerning the City of Music brand is about the embodiment of the identity politics that the city government has been trying to achieve. Identity politics is a mechanism that keeps revolving in every ethnic group, with latent existence that can emerge anytime as political and cultural power. Empirically, the identity politics is a social construction culturally rooted in the local community (Buchari 2014; Afif 2015).

Creative Industries, Creative City of Music One of the creative agenda is the initiative of City of Music, offering new forms of the modern symbols in the metropolis. On Creative Cities, Landry and Biachini (1998) suggest that it is necessary to change the old ways of thinking to new mindsets and additional methods for coping with change. To turn the post-conflict Ambon into a City of Music, both the government and the people should have different ways of thinking and



methods. The central and local government have implemented a number of initiatives that support the making of the City of Music. Basically, creative economy is an economic activity based on the development of creative ideas that is significantly supported by the use of information technology and digitalisation featuring efficiency, effectivity and optimalization of the production process and market. One of the important requirements in developing a creative city/regency is the involvement of all the stakeholders of the quadruple helix based on synergy and collaboration (Tayyiba et al. 2017: xvii). When we compare Manchester and Shanghai (O’Connor and Gu 2010, 2014) to Ambon, the two cities are quite different in terms of its social, cultural, political aspects, and its economic growth. The main issue here is that Ambon’s creative cities approach has started not as an economic development policy but as a social policy in an attempt to solve many inherited social problems post-conflict. Therefore, Ambon City should be approached in a different way, and this chapter uncovers Ambon City in the creative industries map. City branding is not a new device in creative city development. It has been implemented in many cities across the globe and aims to improve the competitiveness of a city globally. Having a brand for a city is very important because it provides the image, reputation and the competitiveness in fighting over the economic resources at local, regional, national and global levels (Steger 2009: vii–ix). Promotional strategies are being employed to sell the tourism destinations based on the city’s local cultural identity or character by creating a slogan with a strong recall (Yananda and Salamah 2014: V, 1) and emphasis on local authenticity (Zukin 2009; Wu 2017). Local identity will certainly become a unique selling point of a region with the provision of good management. In Ambon’s case, the branding they choose is ‘city of music’. The official website indicates that out of 376,152 people living in Ambon, there are 534 musicians, 780 choirs, 94 studios, and 177 musical groups. The Ambonese have always been excellent singers and musical instrument players. Their musical prowess is the essence of the Indonesian musical scene and demonstrates that the city’s identity is music. The concept of creative cities promoted by the UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network (UCCN) also aims to create peer learning networks amongst cities in both developed and developing countries. There are many cities of music under the auspices of UNESCO: Adelaide, Auckland, Bogota, Bologna, Chennai, Daegu, Glasgow, Hamamatsu, Hannover,



Kansas City, Kinshasha, Seville, and many more. Ambon City has been working hard for many years to qualify as a UNESCO City of Music. The Ambon Music Office (AMO) has been established as a representative office under the Ambon local government and Creative Economy Agency (BEKRAF), which implements the activities relating to the requirements of Ambon’s membership to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Ambon City: A Genuine Musical Atmosphere History shows that Ambonese have a special talent in singing even before the colonials set foot on their island (Kartomi 1994; Tamaela 2015). In the past, the Ambonese conveyed messages or gave advice through singing, which is similar to reading poetry and reciting pantoum. They call this kind of singing as ‘kapata’, which is usually accompanied by musical instruments such as tifa (single-headed drum), bamboo flute, and toto buang (a set of gong chimes). The arrival of colonisers has allowed the Ambonese to get to know European modern musical instruments such as violin, accordion, flute and clarinet way before other ethnic groups in the Indonesian archipelago. Male musicians usually play these instruments to accompany dances like Waltz, Polka and Katreji during Christmas, New Year, birthday celebration of the king/queen. The Katreji dance is an acculturation of European cultures (Portuguese and Dutch), which is being performed to welcome visitors. The Ambonese have also learned to sing religious songs because of the presence of Catholic and Protestant missionaries. There is also a monthly musical performance at the area of Gong Perdamaian Dunia (World Peace Gong). Many stages with musical instruments are set up on several roads for anyone to participate. Indeed, singing and playing musical instruments are deeply rooted in the Ambonese culture—both as a way to earn a living and as a form of leisure and being in style.

From Ambon Manise to City of Music Before the seven-year conflict (1999–2006), Ambon City was widely known with its branding Ambon Manise, which literally means sweet Ambon. A number of songs expressing the natural beauty of Ambon City always use this phrase but there is no accurate account about the historical origins of this branding.4 During the lengthy ethnic and religious conflict, Ambon City suffered environmental, economic and humanitarian



degradation. After the conflict, Ambon has renamed itself as Ambon Manise. Big letters have been installed in the middle of the Lapangan Merdeka in the city centre, imitating the initiative of big cities around the world. The local government and the groups of activists and music practitioners have later agreed to rebrand Ambon as the City of Music as a way of combating riots. Eventually, Ambon’s membership to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network has helped the city in building a competitive city brand.

Ambon: UNESCO City of Music The aspiration to become UNESCO City of Music involves intergovernmental collaboration between local, regional and central government, which can be very challenging for policy implementation. One of the parties involved is Indonesiana Platform and represents the central government. It is a platform initiated by the Directorate General of Culture of the Ministry of Culture and Education of the Republic of Indonesia to support sustainable, networked, and developed governance in arts and culture. One of the platform’s supported cultural events is Amboina International Bamboo Music Festival 2018. Indonesiana Platform curator Nyak Ina Raseuki explains that this project is based on the spirit of mutual cooperation (locally known as the concept of gotong royong), which is the basic principle for Indonesians to work together by engaging all parties who are concerned and have interest in advancing culture. In 2018, Indonesiana Platform focused on the consolidation of cultural events management standards by supporting existing and new festivals relevant to the potential and cultural character of each province across Indonesia. Overall, this platform works on (1) knowledge management; (2) curatorial production; (3) publication and public relation, and cooperation and assistance (, accessed on 10 September 2019). Moreover, on 7–9 March 2018, the Indonesia Music Conference was organised to bring together policymakers and stakeholders in Ambon City, and resulted in having a 12-point agreement for the city. Approximately a month later, the conference proceedings were submitted to Indonesian President Joko Widodo and the Chairman of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Indonesia. One of the phenomena in Indonesia’s reform era is the aspiration to revitalise the local wisdom of the Indonesian people, specifically in interpreting the Regional Autonomy Law No. 9/2015.5 This law is believed to



give them the opportunities in accommodating and actualizing their local wisdom. Indonesians also use this law as one of their sources in creating a new vision that is more aligned with the local aspirations, one of which is the setting up of the City of Music branding for Ambon City. Developing a city brand means identifying the city’s unique potential and having a strong and well-defined identity, strong association, and positive attributes. For Ambon city, it is the long tradition of Ambonese music and the musical talent of the Ambonese. It is also highly important to maintain the involvement of various parties in the program sustainably. However, Ambon City has yet to attain the uniqueness and positive attributes to attract tourists and hold music events of international standard. The music festival that Ambon has organised is only instrumental to meet the UNESCO requirements. It is still trying to find its genuine format because the festival appears to be a duplication of previous pop music events in Ambon. It has not created any new events that speak to global audiences and that will go well with their global cultural identity. Place branding can shape a city’s reputation and popularity globally (Anholt 2007). Unfortunately, there are still many cities that end up developing brands that are somewhat identical to or similar with other cities, which do not offer any unique identity to achieve and realise the city’s aspirations. Apparently, not all cities are aware of their unique potential. The brand development process has become a new phenomenon in Indonesia in terms of how a city should be managed properly. A city is also a complex entity that has its local characteristics—nature, people, objects, and manmade environment (public space) (Yananda and Salamah 2014: 55). In Ambon’s case, the question that needs to be discussed is to what extent has Ambon City traded itself off to introduce the city by way of the city branding initiative. A city brand should become a shared aspiration of the residents. This means that the Mayor of Ambon City should invite residents to participate in the creation of their city branding so that it will become a shared vision of the residents. From our field observation, however, this city branding efforts attempted by the local government have not been well understood by the locals. Therefore, the concept and objectives of creative cities policy, which the local government and the local communities wish for, have not been fully comprehended. Our field interviews reveal that the local government has not communicated the policies to local residents,



and the community has no idea about the concept and scheme of Ambon’s branding. In terms of marketing effort, the branding only took place at Ambon Bay. In other public places, only few small banners and posters are placed. The local government has not reached the communities living in villages where most of Ambon’s musical talents reside. The city branding initiative is also only known to the upper class and some political elites, including those who are already from the music and arts scene, while sidestepping the vast majority of Ambon residents. This becomes even more problematic because Ambon is a multicultural city and houses different ethnic groups with different religious beliefs. The design of the city branding has not reached the non-Christian community and overlooked the initial intention of using place branding as a tool to resolve religious conflicts through a shared hope under the notion of a city of music.6 The lack of a shared vision also leads to uncoordinated actions. It seems that the city government and the residents of Ambon City are not working together to accomplish a successful brand of City of Music. The lack of coordination can be exemplified by the lack of adequate facilities for tourists during music festivals like proper accommodations and public transportation. The stakeholders do not pay ample attention towards developing standard requirements in security, hygiene, and public health. City branding is not just about building hard infrastructure. It includes public and private parties such as media, communities, higher education, observers, practitioners, tourism actors, community leaders, and non-governmental organisations. It involves engaging with all local parties to form an ecosystem (Yananda and Salamah 2014: 34). Higher education institutions like University of Pattimura and IAIN Ambon have played an active role in supporting the city branding process by providing recording music studio of international standard, particularly for the ethnic music. It is also necessary for government to build music schools to facilitate music learning for children. The involvement of many parties can guarantee the presence of multiple perspectives and help map out the city’s problems and implement the city branding in more diverse ways.7 However, many prospective private sponsors are not involved in the implementation of this city branding. A city generally grows and develops over a long historical period. Hence, a city branding process is not something that can be done instantly. A city brand is born out of the values rooted in the concerned community



that represents its real identity. Although music is the real, natural identity of the Ambonese, this has not been utilised optimally in their activities to develop the branding of Ambon City of Music.

Conclusion Based on our analysis of Ambon City’s attempt to become UNESCO’s city of music, we argue that Ambon City is not yet ready to provide facilities and infrastructure relevant to the branding it wishes to develop. Ambon city still needs to set up infrastructure like concert halls, venues with varied capacity, and educational institutions that will teach music and further develop the musical prowess of the people in Ambon and Moluccas area for its city branding to succeed. Ambon City also does not have enough events to sustain its city branding, and does not have competent curators to introduce singers/musicians and to organise annual events under a regular schedule. Ambon Music Office is supposed to take care of all the things needed for its city brandings but it is not functioning accordingly. There are a number of constraints and hindrances that must be resolved such as the city’s insufficient financial support and lack of engagement with its stakeholders for the city branding initiative. In terms of satisfying the UNESCO’s requirements, Ambon City has yet to meet the criteria to qualify as a City of Music and has yet to show its uniqueness and competitive selling point. Nonetheless, the Ambonese are true musicians, and music is part of their everyday life and cultural identity. It is also important to note that each creative city has its own uniqueness, and it is impossible to evaluate one using another creative city’s measurement. City branding is all about promises and hopes, and this needs to be a shared hope of the whole community who lives in the area. Based on our field observation, the branding of Ambon City of Music has not flourished yet. At present, it is simply a marketing slogan and remains as a discourse. While UNESCO has accepted Ambon as a member of its Creative Cities Network and a number of efforts have been made to live up to its city branding like the establishment of the Ambon Music Office and the mounting of music conference and formation of various partnerships, the implementation of the City of Music branding is premature to say the least. The development of the Ambon City of Music branding reveals the real limitations of the creative cities rhetoric in contributing to a process of



urban renewal that concerns more with resolving social conflicts than economic revitalisation. The rhetoric of city of music raises many questions and challenges: What are the messages being communicated? To whom are the messages targeted? Who should be interpreting the policy? Who should be involved in delivering its intended outcomes? The lack of material base for supporting the cause further weakens the potential for creative cities policy to promote a city’s cultural potential and characteristics to the wider public.

Notes 1. On 30 October 2019, Ambon became one of the 66 cities designated as UNESCO Creative Cities. unesco-designates-66newcreativecities?fbclid=IwAR0Lg-_BtsDiXiHKevFWY-SKACFT4cSLrFuhwh246Vc5Rdkv67nRYzqzW0. 2. Eid-ul Fitr is the end of the fasting month of Ramadhan that is celebrated annually by the Muslims. 3. Ambon Creative Economy Agency is the local office of the Creative Economy Agency at national level and the head office is in Jakarta. There is an office of the Creative Economy Agency in every province. 4. In 1930, George de Fretes, an Ambonese composer wrote a song called Love Ambon in Hawaiian. This song has since been played as the closing tune by the Radio Republik Indonesia Program 1 across Indonesia at midnight. It is not clear whether the slogan “Ambon Manise” was inspired by this song. 5. In Article 1 Law No.32/2004 and in Article 1 Law No.9/2015, it was confirmed that Regional Autonomy is the authority of the autonome region as regulated by the law (Source: 6. The Ambonese Muslim community is also interested in songs, specifically the music genre of Islamic colour such as qasidah, nasyid, gambus, and sholawat accompanied by hadrah and keyboard. There are many Muslim music VCDs and CDs sold in the market. The Ambonese Muslim community organises an Islamic Cultural Festival of the Moluccas Islands twice, in 2017 and 2018, which were attended by 41 participants from diverse Muslim villages across the Moluccas Islands (Alkatiri 2019: 112). 7. On 28 October 2016, the city government of Ambon, through the Ambon Music Office (AMO), presented the Ambon City Music Award 2017 to a number of musicians of Moluccas Islands origin, who are from Indonesia and the Netherlands (Source: MCAmbon/RA).



References Afif, Afthonul. 2015. Teori Identitas Sosial. Yogyakarta: UII Press. Alkatiri, Zeffry. 2019. Ambon Manise Sayang Dilale. Yogyakarta: Gorga Pituliuk. Anholt, Simon. 2007. Competitive Identity: The New Brand Management for Nations, Cities and Regions. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Buchari, Sri Astuti. 2014. Kebangkitan Etnis Menuju Politik Identitas. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia. Kartomi, Margaret J. 1994. Is Maluku Still Musicological Terra Incognita? An Overview of the Music-Cultures of the Province of Maluku. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 25 (1): 141–171. Landry, Charles, and Franco Biachini. 1998. The Creative City. London: Demos in association with Comedia. O’Connor, Justin, and Xin Gu. 2014. Creative Industry Clusters in Shanghai: A Success Story? International Journal of Cultural Policy 20: 1–20. ———. 2010. Developing Creative Cluster in Post Industrial City: CIDS and Manchester. Information Society: An International Journal 26 (2): 124–136. Steger, Manfred B. 2009. Globalism: The New Market Ideology. 1st ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Tamaela, Izaac. 2015. Christian, Contextualization of Music in the Moluccan Church. De Boelelaan, Amsterdam: Vrije Universiteit. Tayyiba, Mira, et  al. 2017. Buku Putih Kota Kreatif: Ekosistem yang Mencipta. Bekraf and ICCN: Bandung. Wu, Chen-Yi. 2017. Authenticity: Creative Tourism and Large Variation of Community. Athens Journal of Tourism 4 (2): 125–146. Yananda, Rahmat, and Ummi Salamah. 2014. Branding Tempat: Membangun Kota, Kabupaten, dan Provinsi Berbasis Identitas. Jakarta: Maknainformasi. Zukin, Sharon. 2009. Changing Landscapes of Power: Opulence and the Urge for Authenticity. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 33: 543–553.


Critical Reflections on Creative Cities Policy Making in Asia


Creative Cities and Sustainable Development: A Framework Helene George

Introduction I have worked in the cultural policy area in Australia for over 25 years. Fortunately, I was directly involved in the Commonwealth of Australia’s first cultural policy, Creative Nation in 1994. A policy championed by then Prime Minister Paul Keating who is quoted as saying ‘This cultural policy is also an economic policy. Culture creates wealth.’ The policy emphasised the importance of culture to national identity and nation building across government, community and the economy. It was a ground-breaking policy as it sought to define culture in all its diversity beyond arts to the cultural industries including film, broadcasting, radio and television, heritage, technology, multi-cultural arts, Indigenous culture, cultural tourism, etc. This policy approach inspired me to establish a strategic advisory firm, Creative Economy specialising in sustainable development and strategic development of cultural and creative industries. Still inspired by Creative

H. George (*) Creative Economy Pty Ltd, North Melbourne, VIC, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 X. Gu et al. (eds.), Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia,




Nation, in 2001 I authored Australia’s first creative industries strategy for Brisbane City Council, the largest local government in the southern hemisphere. Importantly, this strategy was driven within an economic development agency but delivered across the whole of council including, urban planning through the creation of the Fortitude Valley Entertainment Zone to protect the music industry in an urban renewal area of the city-­ fringe; achieving regional cooperation of 16 councils with the South East Queensland Film Strategy; as well as engaging city marketing, investment attraction, community and cultural services in implementation of the creative industries strategy. In 2005, as a member of the Prime’s Minister’s Working Party into Creativity in the Innovation Economy, we explored the role of creativity in a policy context. I was one of the founding UNESCO Experts for the UNESCO 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and subsequently, one of six international experts for the UNESCO International Fund for Cultural Diversity. In 2006, I was engaged as a keynote speaker at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing for the First Cultural & Creative Industry International Development Forum. Subsequently, I have been engaged in strategic advice and engagements internationally such as the UNESCO Hangzhou International Congress, Culture: Key to Sustainable Development where I was the Panel Chair for Public Private Partnerships in the Culture Sector; the 2015 International Conference: New Humanism, Governance and Sustainable Development in Guangzhou which led to publication in New Humanism and Global Governance by the Institute of Public Policy at South China University of Technology and World Scientific:  and UNESCO Cultural Economy, Sustainable Development and the Diversity of Cultural Expressions forum hosted by Jiaotong University and Monash University in Shanghai. My reflection on Asia has been informed by these major international events hosted in the region. This paper is a self-reflection based on my work with policy makers around the world developing strategy, especially in sustainable economic development and cultural and creative industries. I will reflect on the UNESCO designation of ‘creative cities’ and the challenges to align sustainable development in a local context. I will then discuss the increasing contributions of China to the 2005 UNESCO Convention and the role of policy intervention in this area. Lastly, I present a framework applicable for developing Asian cities working on the strategic alignment of creative cities policy and local economic development objectives.



UNESCO Creative City Designation The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) is a UNESCO program managed through UNESCO’s governance mechanisms, in accordance with the Organisation’s mandate to establish a culture of peace and sustainable development.1 The designation as a UNESCO Creative City is awarded in one of seven fields including Crafts & Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Media Arts and Music to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development. As the only UN agency with a specific mandate in culture, UNESCO notably delivers its programmes through the implementation of normative instruments—the Culture Conventions. The relevant UNESCO Convention for UCCN is the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.2 The 2005 Convention is one the most significant milestones in international cultural policy. Through adoption of the Convention, the global community recognises the dual contribution, both cultural and economic, of cultural expressions and is at the heart of the creative economy. In 2001 the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity was adopted by UNESCO. The Declaration’s first Article acknowledges that As a source of exchange, innovation and creativity, cultural diversity is as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for the nature. In this sense, it is the common heritage of humanity and should be recognised and affirmed for the benefit of present and future generations.3

The 2005 Convention was developed during the period of 2003 to 2005. The 2005 Convention also deals with a specific set of articles in the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity being articles 8–11. It was during the period of development of the 2005 Convention, that the creative cities idea was proposed to UNESCO in 2003 by Edinburgh City. UNESCO launched its Creative Cities Network in 2004 with 6 cities. The 2005 Convention is also seen as a key enabler to the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.4 The SDG Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity adopted in 2015 by the international community. It outlines a vision for a more sustainable future that is equitable, inclusive, peaceful, and environmentally friendly. The role of culture is particularly reflected in Sustainable Development Goal 11 to ‘make



cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’ but also in other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on social inclusion, job creation, urban resilience or environmental protection. There are now 246 UNESCO Creative Cities across the seven designations which currently make up the network, working together towards a common objective: placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level. In short, a UNESCO Creative City commits to a sustainable development path through culture and creativity. In these terms, the UNESCO Creative City commitment sets a policy context for strategic development.

China and the New Voices in Asia In 2006, I was engaged as a keynote speaker at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing for the First Cultural & Creative Industry International Development Forum. It was a critical time with China articulating its 11th Five Year Plan for National Economy and Social Development (2006–2010) and its first for cultural creative development. The focus was shifting from ‘Made in China’ to ‘Created in China’, a new positioning of China on the international stage, as stated by the state policy, ‘On the international stage China not only needs strength in economy, science, technology and defence but also cultural strength to be ahead of international competition.’ states the national program on cultural development.5

The 11th Five Year Plan was a key period in which Beijing sought to seize the strategically important opportunity for development and realise the concept of the previous 10th Plan ‘New Beijing, Great Olympics’ with the staging of the Beijing Olympics in 2008. This period saw the development of state-owned and private cultural organisations and significant funding allocated to improve management and meet the public demands for cultural facilities throughout China. From the 1990’s to 2010 culture had risen to the international consciousness for its potential in economic growth. Interestingly, this was at a time when the world economy in general was experiencing a boom on the back of the high economic participation and growth rates of China. By 2010 the UCCN grew to include 24 creative cities including 8 Asian



cities. Shenzen was the first Chinese city to join the network in 2008 followed by Shanghai and Chengdu in 2010. 2011 was a significant year for UNESCO. UNESCO became the first United Nations organisation to recognise and admit Palestine as a full member party. This resulted in UNESCO’s singular biggest funder, the United States of America withdrawing its funding support to UNESCO creating over a 22%6 hole in its revenue. This opened up an opportunity for China to participate as a leader with a United Nations organisation. In 2013, China hosted the UNESCO Hangzhou International Congress, Culture: Key to Sustainable Development. The purpose of the meeting was to examine the multifaceted role of culture in achieving sustainable development goals and to influence the inclusion of culture in the post-2015 global development framework. The participants at that Congress formulated the UNESCO contribution to the Post-2015 Millennium Development Agenda now known as the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and this was captured in The Hangzhou Declaration: Placing Culture at the Heart of Sustainable Development Policies.7 Later that year, a focussed UNESCO event was held in China hosted by Shanghai Jiaotong University and Monash University. This international workshop was titled Cultural Economy, Sustainable Development and the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and drew academic and policy experts together to discuss the transformations in global policy thinking consequent on the widespread adoption of ‘creative industries’ and ‘creative cities’ as development agendas. The workshop explored how a globally diverse, sustainable and democratic cultural economy agenda might be re-­ asserted. Some of the participants of this workshop contributed to the publication UNESCO Global Report on Culture for Sustainable Urban Development.8 By the end of 2013, the UCCN included 41 Asian cities including Beijing and Hangzhou who were designated in 2012. In 2016, Beijing hosted the second UNESCO Creative Cities Summit, on the theme of UNESCO Creative Cities Network: a lever for sustainable urban development. UNESCO and UCCN then shifted the criteria to become a UNESCO Creative City  from ‘why you deserve this’ to ‘what do you hope to achieve’. This has seen an explosion in the UCCN network, so that by the end of 2019 the network included 246 creative cities worldwide with 51 in Asia. China leads the world in the number of designated UNESCO Creative Cities with 14 cities that are members of UCCN.



China’s support has enabled the international community to continue the momentum in cooperation and evolution of cultural policy. Through the engagements with UNESCO, China has been able to execute its strategic policy both domestically and internationally. Domestically, the 2005 Convention and UCCN provide a framework for local governments in China to foster a distinctive local expression of Chinese central government policy. Internationally, China has stepped up to play a crucial role, at a time of weakness for UNESCO, enabling international cultural policy makers and actors to contribute to important international policy agendas and especially the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Agenda. The international initiative of UCCN which is generously supported by a range of partners in China, has seen significant growth and become the most visible programme under the 2005 Convention. It is with awe that the international world follows the rapid rise in development of China, enabled by effective central government policy and implementation. Importantly, since 2006 with the 11th Five Year Plan, China has continued to place cultural policy as a key platform for the national economy and social development. China has engaged with UNESCO, international experts and developed its own experts to analyse, reflect and evolve cultural policy in a sustainable development context. The question is, whether the China model is applicable to countries where lack of financial means and political will to invest in cultural infrastructures and/or cultural industries is the norm. Although more cities in developing Asian countries have adopted the idea of creative cities, many through international agencies like UNESCO, to what extent these second tier cities can benefit from creative city development strategy remains unclear.

Strategic Alignment: UNESCO Creative City Framework Plan Part of the reason is that strategic alignment of the initiatives outlined above requires effective coordination both at national and local levels. It needs clear and effective plans that are complementary, and reinforcing strategies that avoid duplication and realise cities’ potential through giving voices to local communities. For many newly designated creative cities in Asia, the designation as a UNESCO Creative City brings recognition and brand association with



UNESCO as a prominent international organisation. Many member cities do not have full comprehension of the context, meaning and opportunity as part of UCCN, nor have they prepared to undertake responsibilities associated with their commitments to UNESCO and UCCN membership. The full potential of the designation for many cities is not realised. For these cities, it is important that a UNESCO Creative City Framework Plan be developed. A UNESCO Creative City Framework Plan will bring an understanding of the international policy context for the designation as a UNESCO Creative City. It will also provide the strategic context for its membership in the UCCN and articulate its contribution to the UCCN core mission, to raise awareness of the power of creativity and innovation in building sustainable cities. Membership of UCCN opens up opportunities for engagement in regional and international initiatives which are likely to be a benefit to various stakeholders across a designated city. Importantly, the development of the framework plan will harness collaboration and resources to maximise the opportunity of the UNESCO creative city designation. An effective  framework is one that is  designed to provide strategic guidance and allow stakeholders to envisage how they contribute and play a role in the creative city. It will harness input of key stakeholders to identify existing initiatives that bring meaning to the designation and explore potential opportunities within the UCCN network of creative cities regionally, internationally and as part of the specific creative field of designation. An engagement plan will assist in identifying appropriate engagement strategies. The framework plan should provide a catalytic forum to plan, collaborate, harness, and promote local transformative impacts that contribute to sustainable development and are achieved through creativity and innovation. It is proposed that a UNESCO Creative City of Design Framework Plan should: • Align to the UCCN mission and the local cities community vision. • Outline broad strategic goals that contribute to the community vision and UCCN mission. • Identify local initiatives that contribute to the goals. • Facilitate Inter-city cooperation within UCCN. • Include a high level action plan. • Have at least a five year outlook aligning to UCCN monitoring periods.



• Engage stakeholders to resource and implement the creative city designation. • Provide a governance structure for management and oversight of implementation. For efficiency, a framework plan can also contribute to providing the basis for the required UCCN monitoring reports including requirements to: • Contribute to global management of UCCN in terms of participation and resourcing. • Identify local initiatives aligned to the five objectives of UCCN. • Facilitate Inter-city cooperation to address UCCN objectives. • Gather required statistics and relevant impact measures resulting from designation and contribute to research within UCCN. • Develop a communication plan for brand consistency, communications and raising awareness. • Application of the UNESCO logo and branding guidelines to the development of a consistent design logo approved by UCCN at UNESCO. • Secure a budget to resource the implementation of the action plan. The end result is that the framework plan will be a tool to articulate what it means for a local city to be a Creative City within a local and international context.

Aligning UCCN Objectives with a Local Economic Development Plan: Five Steps In developing countries in Asia, aligning UCCN objectives cannot ignore the needs for local economic development. But unlike conventional local economic development plans, a UCCN aligned local economic development plan has to focus on the prospect of sustainable development. The strategic advisor firm, Creative Economy has developed five step approach for development of local economic development plans for creative cities.



Creative Economy Approach to Sustainable Development The UNESCO Creative City designation requires a commitment to sustainable development that recognises the power of culture and creativity. Culture led development is sustainable development. Creative Economy has developed an effective strategic approach to sustainable development. The Creative Economy approach identifies the unique cultural values of a place, then articulates them first and foremost as the foundation of sustainable development, as it embeds development in a specific place with connection to the community. It is a holistic development approach that achieves linkage and balance of cultural, environmental, social and economic outcomes. This results in greater value creation and improved economic outcomes that are sustainable. Community Vision and Community Values Alignment with Sustainable Development Goals 16 and 17 requires investment in participatory governance platforms and processes for SDG policy-­ making and planning. Community led visions are developed through well-coordinated participatory governance platforms. Once developed, a long term community vision provides the strategic direction for a local economic development plan. Community values are the community designed principles that guide what is important to a community. Community values guide how a local government and community conduct their activities, interactions and communications. Each community will have a specific set of cultural values relevant to their community. Situational Analysis A situational analysis provides an understanding of the context of a city in relation to strengths and challenges, economic circumstance of a city and the opportunities and challenges of the region and external influences. A documented evidence base sourced from local statistics, research and data is essential to the situational analysis. This is enhanced by local insights that can be provided by the internal economic development team through facilitated discussion. A situational analysis for the city presents the current status of the social, cultural and economic landscape and provides a realistic starting point as the platform from which to build strategies to achieve a community vision.



Stakeholder Engagement Development of a stakeholder engagement plan enables key stakeholders to inform and provide feedback during the development of the Economic Development Plan. This includes building greater understanding of the context and situational analysis that currently exists as well as testing goals and strategies to achieve the community vision. The plan should look at options of who to engage, when and how. Through stakeholder engagement, an understanding is built of the strategic context of the UNESCO Creative City Framework, the community vision for the city and the alignment with the development of an Economic Development Plan. Using a design thinking process as an iterative process through each of these stages, the cultural values and the goals of the economic development strategy can be tested. Establish Effective Strategic Goals • Utilise a community vision as the strategic direction for the Economic Development Plan. • Then define strategic goals with relevant targets that meaningfully contribute to achieving the community vision. • Finalise strategic goals and relevant targets. Determine benchmark indicators to measure impact and achievement of targets. • Develop relevant strategies to achieve goals. This will include partnerships for implementation. This should incorporate relevant requirements of the UNESCO Creative City Framework. • Determine timeframes and resources linked to strategies to achieve the goals. • Consider appropriate structure to deliver strategy. • Budget to resource implementation. So far, the strategy of many newly minted UNESCO Creative Cities has been acquisition of the badge of honour in the designation as an end to itself. However, there can be an accelerator of opportunities if these cities understand how to maximise the potential of the designation as a strategic policy and organising device for sustainable development.



Notes 1. 2. 3. 4. and https://en.unesco. org/creativity/sites/creativity/files/sdg-infographic.jpg. 5. 6. 7. images/FinalHangzhouDeclaration20130517.pdf. 8.


Creative Bandung: Interview with Tita Larasati Tita Larasati and Xin Gu

Introduction Tita Larasati is the chair of Bandung Creative City Forum (BCCF), an organisation responsible for Bandung’s application as a City of Design to UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network (UCCN). As deputy of Strategic Partnership in the Indonesia Creative Cities Network (ICCN), she is responsible for developing programs that extend the understanding of UCCN within the country. Lasarati teaches industrial design at the Faculty of Arts and Design at Bandung Institute of Technology and has been the Vice President of Science and Society for the Indonesian Young Academy of Science (ALMI). She is also a design practitioner and youth culture advocate. Xin Gu conducted this interview with Tita Larasati on 25 October 2019 during the Asia-Pacific Creative Cities Conference at Adelaide Festival Centre. The original transcript was shared with Tita to ensure T. Larasati Bandung Creative City Forum (BCCF), Bandung, Indonesia X. Gu (*) School of Media, Film and Journalism, Monash University, Caulfield East, VIC Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 X. Gu et al. (eds.), Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia,




accuracy of the details, while the edited transcript below focuses on the key objectives of Indonesia Creative Cities Network (ICCN).

The 10 Principles of Creative City in Indonesia ICCN was initiated in Bandung in 2015 during the Creative Cities Conference that resulted in the declaration of the 10 principles of Indonesia Creative City by the 18 co-founding cities that attended the event. In the same year, ICCN was officially established during the first Indonesia Creative Cities Conference in Surakarta, Central Java. ICCN has since then been holding regular conferences and meetings in different cities in Indonesia, gaining more members from Indonesian cities whose communities are committed to implement the 10 principles. To date, ICCN has connected community initiatives in up to 210 cities across Indonesia. ICCN has also published a White Paper on Creative City as an attempt to adopt the 10 Principles into the government’s key performance indicator and is currently working on the Creative City Index to provide local governments with a working tool that evaluates the inclusion of culture and creativity in their respective development strategies. The main program of ICCN is Catha Ekadaksa (‘The 11 Ways towards an Impactful Urban Creative Economy Ecosystem’), which is a set of tools to assist cities and regencies in Indonesia in achieving the 10 Principles of Creative City listed below: • A compassionate city: A city that upholds socio-cultural diversity, based on the value of compassion, cultivation, and nurturing; • An inclusive city: An open city that celebrates the values of humanity and the spirit of togetherness, solidarity, and peace; • A city that protects human rights: A city that defends the peoples’ rights of economic, social, and cultural; • A city that glorifies the creativity of its people: A city that develops the intelligence of local wisdom, skills, creativity and reasoning, science, and technology as the foundation of creation and innovation; • A city that grows together with a sustainable environment: A city that lives in harmony with the environmental and natural dynamics; • A city that maintains the wisdom of history while builds the spirit of reform to create a better future for all its people;



• A city that runs transparently, fairly, and honestly: A city that promotes the value of mutual cooperation and collaboration, and open access and participation of the people involved in building the city; • A city that meets the basic needs of its people: A city that always strives to improve the prosperity, happiness, and quality of life of its people; • A city that utilizes renewable energy: A city that constantly strives to fulfil energy needs of its people wisely and sustainably; and • A city that capable to provide decent public facilities for the people, including friendly facilities for vulnerable and special needs groups.

Transcript XG: Please tell us about Bandung Creative City Forum (BCCF) and its role in building Bandung’s creative city identity. Tita: I co-developed Bandung Creative City Forum (BCCF) in 2008 when a group of young people of Bandung started to interfere with public space in the city. We wanted to experiment with these places to explore how cities can be more pleasant for locals to live in. We held many projects. They were showcased in an annual event called Helarfest. This has sparked more local involvement, out of which BCCF was formed. Our principle for sponsoring project ideas is that everything has to do with creative urban solutions. We follow a completely bottom-up approach at the time, and we’re not reliant on government funding. This allows us to work on ideas very quickly as prototypes. BCCF programs have always been applying the formula of ABCGM + 3C.  ABCGM represents a range of stakeholders of a city: Academia, Business, Community, Government, Media. The 3C refers to a process of Connect—Collaborate—Commerce/Celebrate. We aim to implement ‘Design Thinking’ in small scale urban problems solving, which we call ‘Urban Acupuncture.’ XG: Why was Bandung interested in becoming a UCCN member? Tita: Back in 2012, UNESCO contacted the Indonesian Ministry for Tourism and Creative Economy. They selected ten cities and Bandung was one of them. Then the mayor of Bandung made a list of people who would be responsible for the dossier. It was a very top-down process. Our application to UCCN was rejected several times. This changed in 2015, when the former BCCF chair became Bandung’s mayor. He took a lot of



BCCF programs to policy level, and that’s when Bandung really faced a huge change in infrastructure, in programs, in budgeting and so on. The mayor is an architect and urban designer, so he knows the importance of design. Hence, all efforts were directed towards becoming a Design City. When we applied in 2015, we already had good infrastructures built to support our City of Design application. But we needed a different angle. If you mention cities in Japan or cities in Western Europe, they are known to be good at technology innovation. They are highly industrialised, and we are not. It is clear to me that we look into design not only as objects or commodities with certain visual or aesthetic quality, but we look more into how Bandung people solve problems through design thinking. We’ve seen our prototypes and our urban space intervention as building experiments and prototypes for experience, not only for the government but also for the people of Bandung. We use design to lessen the gap between government policy and the people. We have an annual workshop called ‘Design Action’, which is a design thinking workshop for policymakers and the government. Because whatever we come up with, they will be the ones to implement. In addition, we focus on participants’ local knowledge because most stakeholders are from Bandung. It was clear to us that Bandung as a City of Design has three main potentials: People, Place, and Ideas; which yield public spaces with commercial values, active communities with entrepreneurial skills, and social innovation. XG: How did the development of creative economy start in Indonesia? How does Bandung’s UCCN status align with the national policy? Tita: It was in 2010 when our Trade Minister learned about the concept of Creative Economy. She formed a group of experts tasked with developing Creative Economy in ten provinces in Indonesia. I was part of the group, but I had no idea what Creative Economy was, and we had to borrow ideas from other countries. During her term, Indonesia has produced many taskforces to map out the potentials of creative industries clusters. One of the key documents was the blueprint for Indonesia Creative Economy 2025. But this national strategy had to change because we had a new president in 2014. A national agency for Creative Economy—BEKRAF was setup in 2015 to replace the Ministry in charge of Creative Economy. This has changed the governance of creative economy in the country significantly because this agency does not have ministry departments at



sub-regional level. Their main task is to help the president to make decisions concerning creative economy. They are not directly in touch with the city or even the provincial governments. This is a big problem for us. Although we are very advanced in creative economy and we have our own committee for developing the creative economy, we have no vertical links with the government, and it is the national agency that takes charge of policy planning. We had to work with the Department for Tourism and Culture to implement some of the policies. Just three days ago, our re-elected president till 2024, has announced that Creative Economy would move back to the portfolio of the Ministry of Tourism. Despite the volatility of vertical governance, this move could put us back on track by aligning our own agenda with national policy. Our government has already passed a national bill for Creative Economy, which would be translated into regional and city regulations. Our challenge now is to align Bandung’s own Creative Economy policy with the regional (The West Java Province) and new national policies. XG: How has the success of Bandung as a UCCN member perceived within Indonesia? Tita: Many young people are actively pursuing this idea of creative cities in their own cities. They started to form their own communities and hope to lodge their application to become a UCCN member. In 2015, BCCF held a Creative Cities Conference in Bandung where we introduced the ten principles of Indonesia Creative Cities. In the same year, we established the Indonesia Creative Cities Network (ICCN) attended by eighteen cities. In 2019, the ICCN conference was attended by 211 cities, represented mostly by local communities. We believe that becoming a creative city should be an independent act of local communities. Hence, BCCF produced the book White Paper of Creative City in 2017. We want to make this concept accessible to the community and allow it to be made relevant to city development. But this does not mean a moving away from working with local governments. We want to encourage local governments to include creative cities as a key local economic development agenda. In the White Paper, we have developed eleven ways to reach the creative cities’ targets as a formula to align with the creative cities agenda with local economic development. The challenge here is to convince local governments that creativity is not just hobbies. Creative Economy is within different areas of governments. We work with different departments from education to infrastructure to



help them see how their objectives can be made better by including the creative economy. We are developing a best practice dashboard, an app for local government to compare and select which part of creative economy program is best for their local development needs. We want to become the bridge between the government and the community.


UNESCO and Mongolian Cultural Policy: Interview with Bodibaatar Jigjidsuren Bodibaatar Jigjidsuren and Xin Gu

Introduction Bodibaatar Jigjidsuren is an art historian by training and cultural manager by profession who currently works as an international expert on UNESCO’s 2005 Convention and a PhD candidate at the School of Creative Industries, University of South Australia. He has produced TV programs on contemporary world cinema for Mongolian National Television, developed and implemented policies for the Ministry of Culture, lectured at the National University of Mongolia, and advised on cultural and public policies for the Mongolian government. As a cultural policymaker and arts manager, he has facilitated local capacity building projects as part of UNESCO’s 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression. He has managed cultural activities with various arts and culture non-government organizations (NGOs). He is also the editor of The B. Jigjidsuren University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia X. Gu (*) School of Media, Film and Journalism, Monash University, Caulfield East, VIC, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 X. Gu et al. (eds.), Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia,




Encyclopedia of Mongolian Cinema and a contributor to Mongolian journals and newspapers. The original transcript was shared with Bodi to ensure accuracy of the details, while the edited transcript focuses on how UNESCO’s global policies on culture, particularly the 2005 Convention, have shaped Mongolia’s national cultural policy making. This interview provides a detailed analysis of the specific historical, social and cultural context in Mongolia that have been impactful in its transformation from a state-sponsored cultural development model toward a market-driven one.

Transcript Xin Gu (XG): Can you please tell us about how Mongolia became interested in UNESCO’s 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Diversity of Cultural Expression? Bodibaatar Jigjidsuren (BJ): I was first introduced to the UNESCO’s 2005 Convention when I was a cultural officer at the Arts and Culture Committee, in charge of visual arts and motion pictures, from 2009 to 2011. I was later promoted to work in the Ministry of Culture. Between 2011 and 2014, I was tasked to developing a national cultural policy on cultural and creative industries. Since ratifying the 2005 Convention in 2007, Mongolia has been trying to align the Convention’s framework with its national cultural policy. Between 2008 and 2018, it implemented various cultural and creative industries-related capacity building activities and projects to map the cultural industries, understand its values, and explore opportunities to strengthen its sustainability. Under the auspices of the 2005 Convention, I organised and coordinated capacity building training-workshops and meetings with relevant stakeholders to raise awareness on culture and the 2005 Convention. ‘Strengthening the Sustainability of Creative Industries in Mongolia’, ‘Mongolian Cultural Statistics in Action’ (first IFCD funded project), ‘Culture and Development Forum’ are amongst them. UNESCO has been instrumental in this process. It has provided a framework and the necessary funding for Mongolia to develop a national strategy on culture. The Convention’s 2015 Global Report was translated to provide guidance. I was involved in the drafting of the Mongolian 2005 Convention Quadrennial Periodic Reports in 2012. The National Culture and



Development Forum held in Ulaanbaatar has officially adopted the concept of cultural and creative industries in 2012. In short, the 2005 UNESCO Convention has been and remains to be an inspiration and guideline for the promotion of cultural and creative economy in Mongolia. XG: what are some of the challenges in adopting an international framework in local cultural policy making? BJ: The first challenge is adaptation and translation. According to the national programme for cultural industries that was approved by the parliament in 2015, these are the industries that have been highlighted: –– –– –– ––

Film industry (all genres); Design, visual arts (fashion design, handicrafts, fine arts); Performing arts (all types of art performances, events); and Cultural heritage, tradition, rituals, cultural tourism.

Although local governments and rural areas are interested in adopting the cultural and creative industry agenda, due to limited employment opportunities, cultural and human capital, market opportunities and infrastructure, only Ulaanbaatar can implement these policies. Even then, the city council had to adjust these policies according to local conditions. In 2018, Ulaanbaatar announced its own policy that aimed ‘to promote cultural industries based on innovation and intellectual property with economic impact.’ Its four major objectives are enabling legal framework, enhancing human resource and capacity building, developing creative clusters, and protecting intellectual property. A second challenge is the transition from socialist ideology towards a market economy and its impact on culture. Changes that have taken place in Mongolia since 1990 include the complete abandonment of the former socialist-planned economic structure, and the transition to liberal democracy and free market economy have had significant impact on Mongolian cultural landscape. Prior to that (from 1920s to 1990 during the one-­ party system), Mongolia’s planned economy established a broad network of state cultural institutions and educational entities known as ‘red yurts’ or ‘clubs’. Mobile cinemas, radio and other media networks, public schools, universities, professionals, arts organisations, a variety of artists’ clubs, centres, unions and cooperatives were all set up by the state to disseminate socialist ideology.



With the creation of a market economy in the 1990s, the cultural sector experienced difficulties of adjusting to new market values for culture, the lack of human capital and many other factors. The arts and cultural sector faced tremendous cuts during this period. Public cultural institutions were privatised, while exhibition spaces, convention halls, cinemas, libraries, theatres, circus and cultural centres, and amusement parks were turned into banks, bars, pubs, restaurants, shopping malls and stock exchange. State-salaried artists became freelancers. Civil servants became businesspeople. Withdrawal of state subsidies and economic liberalization paralysed the cultural sector. International development agencies and foreign aids emerged to pick up the sticks. These included World Bank, IMF, Asian Development bank, UNDP, UNICEF, JAICA, KOICA, Alliance Francaise, Goethe Institut, Open Society Foundation (also known as Soros Foundation) among others. In particular, the Soros Foundation played a crucial role in contributing to a liberal and progressive model of cultural management through its peer-reviewed cultural grants given to individual artists and organisations. The Arts Council of Mongolia, an independent organisation, was later established in 2003. Overall, there is a lack of comprehension of the concept of cultural and creative industries by policy makers and cultural practitioners in Mongolia. Few policymakers understand the UNESCO 2005 Convention, its implications and framework. Cultural practitioners’ approaches to culture are either elitist (art for art’s sake) or patriotic (culture as national heritage or as some form of national identity formation). When it comes to the industry aspect, cultural practitioners have little knowledge of how to promote and sell their goods and services, but they are still better than policymakers who are struggling with formulating the market economy for culture. XG: What are the main challenges that you think UNESCO needed to address in order to carry out its framework in Mongolia? BJ: UNESCO has been and remains to be important for gaining and maintaining international recognition for Mongolia. It’s a key piece in Mongolia’s ‘Third Neighbour’ foreign policy: to exclude Mongolia’s two powerful neighbours’ influence and reduce dependency on them. Mongolian state is strongly behind the UNESCO Convention ratifications. In practice, it is the cultural heritage aspect of the UNESCO programme that has been paid great attention to by the public. As a relatively



small country, inscribing its intangible cultural heritage elements on the list of ICH and its cultural properties on the list of world heritage are considered very important achievements. In addition, UNESCO has played an important role in expanding the remit of Mongolia’s cultural policy to include tackling lack of cooperation amongst government stakeholders and building consensus between civil society and public sector. Despite its effort, UNESCO (its Eurocentric concepts and lexicons) has challenges in implementing its global policy agenda at the local level in Mongolia. This has been a common problem across countries in the global south. UNESCO has realised this was an issue and included more members of experts from the Asia-Pacific region. There are two types of miscommunication or misunderstanding between UNESCO and the national governing bodies. First, because of cultural differences, most of the concepts and frameworks that UNESCO pushes forward in the global south might get ‘lost in translation’ within very different regional contexts. For a country like Mongolia, government mostly relies on intermediaries like international experts or consultants to translate the policy to local contexts. Second, many of these countries in the global south (including Mongolia) have unstable political environment and weak political and technical leadership on this matter. Mongolian government has a great ambition to achieve the policy goals set by UNESCO but is reluctant to take real action. Over the last five years or so, the government organised various forums on cultural and creative industries and invited well known global consultants in the field of creative economy and nation branding. Mongolia’s economy is heavily dependent on its natural recourses and despite a pledge of diversifying national economy towards knowledge-­ based creative economy, there’s no concrete action in doing this. For instance, picking on ideas like creative cities, the national government is focusing entirely on the demolition of Soviet-era buildings to make way for commercial structures instead of investing in local creative industries and the creative class. Although the Mongolian government is fully committed to UNESCO’s mission in contributing to ‘the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information,’ there are still limited resources allocated to the cultural sector due to the lack of political will and technical capacity.



XG: To what extent are grassroots organisations and NGOs involved in making sense of some of the challenges and opportunities in having a sustainable creative vision for Mongolia? BJ: Before 1990 under the socialist regime, workers’ unions are run effectively by governments in the cultural sectors. For example, artists’ union or writers’ union were the norm. After 1990, these have been reformed to become NGOs. New types of cultural non-profit and independent organisations have emerged with the help of foreign organisations. Although these NGOs in the cultural field work closely with government bodies like the Ministry of Culture, they are not invited to participate in cultural policy making. Even if UNESCO’s 2005 Convention makes it a priority for member states to ensure all relevant stakeholders’ participation, all crucial decisions towards funding and financing the cultural sector have been solely made by the government without any involvement of grassroots organisations and NGOs on the ground. Public funding in the cultural sector will only be allocated to projects managed by NGOs that have a close relationship with the decision makers. These politically motivated policy-making processes and the lack of transparency are common practices in Mongolia. These projects are criticised by local grassroots organisations and NGOs as having less socio-economic impact and lacking cultural excellence. The government, on the other hand, criticises the former for being cultural elitists. The two groups also disagree on issues such as sustainable development. XG: What do you think should be the best governance model in developing the cultural and creative industries in Mongolia? BJ: This might seem like a wish list, but the following considerations would be appropriate for cultural policy-making both at regional and national level: –– reducing personal and political dimension and influence of the decision makers in cultural policy making; –– setting long-term action plans with the participation of all relevant actors; –– avoiding its obsolete and dysfunctional elitist and exclusive approach towards the arts and cultural sector; –– investing in human capital and capacity-building activities;



–– strengthening an inter-ministerial cooperation and coordination, and partnership among public sector and civil society; –– putting culture at the core of national development policy; –– reconsidering public funding strategy and policy for culture; –– pushing for the social dimension of culture and the role of the state in helping articulate common cultural values; –– conducting more research activities and engaging with academia; –– making cultural policymaking process as transparent as possible; –– promoting cultural relation rather than cultural, public diplomacy through international cooperation, exchange/mobility programme; –– encouraging a bottom-up approach in cultural policymaking process and decentralising its cultural and creative industry policy; –– initiating intercultural and intellectual dialogue to widen alternative ‘narratives’ in the region; and –– ensuring the social dimension of culture through public policy and the state. BJ: Lack of understanding towards the 2005 Convention is a common problem amongst countries in Asia. Even in some of the most progressive countries in the region like South Korea, senior professionals who are responsible for their national quadrennial periodic report to the UNESCO Headquarters are struggling with differentiating between cultural diversity (mostly referring to cultural and ethnic differences) and diversity of cultural expressions (relates to all type of contemporary expressions—arts, cultural goods and services). Seeking alternative narratives or non-Eurocentric cultural and creative industry models has been a priority in Asia. There is a growing ambition and confidence among developing countries in Asia to lead the creative and cultural development agenda. This is exemplified by the first World Conference on Creative Economy in Bali, Indonesia in 2018. UN has also declared 2021 as international year of Creative Economy for sustainable development. This was a move sponsored by Indonesia and supported by countries mainly in the Asia-Pacific, including Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Thailand, and the Philippines. There is increasing regional cooperation in the cultural and creative economy through platforms like the annual Creative Central Asia Forum. Indonesia has also sponsored a regional project called Mobilizing Film Professionals for Regional Cooperation in Asia. The Japanese government



is also active in supporting the cultural and creative industries in the Philippines and Vietnam. Despite the optimism in the air and great expectation of a geopolitical shift, the following challenges remain. These include weak copyright protection, lack of infrastructure, limited human capital, restricted market, lack of political and technical leadership, disconnection between policymakers and the creative community, the rise of precarious work in the cultural sector, no provision on gender equality, insufficient public funding, urban-rural disparities, rapid commercialisation/commodification of culture, outdated arts and cultural education system and so on. Amidst great enthusiasm towards models in China, Japan and South Korea, Mongolia has resisted Eurocentric thinking in the makeup of its national cultural policy for fear of cultural imperialism. Mongolia is not an exception in Asia in utilising a protectionist strategy against globalisation in years to come.


Creative Cities in Cambodia: An Impossible Idea? Interview with Milena Dragićević Šešić Milena Dragićević Šešić and Justin O’Connor

Introduction Milena Dragićević Šešić is a long-standing member of UNESCO’s ‘Expert Facility’, established in 2012 within the framework of the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. She also holds a UNESCO Chair in Interculturalism, Art Management and Mediation at the University of Arts in Belgrade, Serbia. She was one of two experts (with Vesna Č opič) charged to conduct three missions to Cambodia 2012, 2013, 2014. The objective of the mission was to strengthen the system of governance for culture in Cambodia, complying with international trends specifically regarding the 2005 UNESCO M. D. Šešić University of Arts in Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia J. O’Connor (*) School of Creative Industries, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia Department of Cultural Industry and Management, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, China e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 X. Gu et al. (eds.), Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia,




Convention. In particular it meant support to cultural and creative industries development, especially in the domain of contemporary arts and crafts. As these were situated very much in the larger urban centres, the idea of the ‘creative city’ was frequently present in the conversations.

Transcript Justin O’Connor (JOC): How applicable is the idea of ‘creative city’ to the Cambodian experience? Milena Dragićević Šešić (MDS): Is it appropriate to use creative city narratives in cities without public cultural infrastructure, without policies in public interest (not only in the cultural domain, but regarding transportation, health, ecology, etc.)? And, is it appropriate to use this term in countries without art education in primary and secondary schools and without proper cultural policies aiming to support creative sector? I definitely think it is not. A new cultural policy vocabulary—creative economy, creative cities and so on—is conquering the world, especially in countries of the Global South. But it is questionable whether these policies will work in countries of Global South, such as Laos’s villages in the jungle, the Rattanakiri region in Cambodia, or Kashmir in India. JOC: Could you say more about the idea of the Global South? MDS: I do not like this dichotomy of North and South. As I think it creates a new international order along cultural lines, where the wealthy countries in the Global North or Global South are more likely to influence regional agendas. We have already seen international organizations including the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Financial Stability Board and the World Trade Organization involved in the G20 summits. The phrase ‘Global South’ encourages the hegemony of a powerful ‘Global North’, over the less fortunate ‘Global South’. The latter should always follow the former. Whilst some countries of the Global South are keen to follow countries in Global North, many are unable or unwilling to do so. Bhutan and Cambodia are such countries. Cultural activists of the Global South are emerging in these countries. The Global South Arts and Culture Initiative (GLOSACI) is a network of artists, creative enterprises, cultural activists, arts NGOs and others engaged in self-organised civic interventions in the development of Creative Cities that actively seek to promote and defend the interests of its members at national, regional and global levels. But, as there is no intergovernmental or international organization behind them, the sustainability of these initiatives is not guaranteed.



JOC: Does the Global South have ‘creative cities’? MDS: This idea or concept of ‘creative cities’ relates to or consists only of those cities and regions that are affected by globalization. Usually, those are capital cities, or cities with huge investment and highly coordinated policies. None of those can be found in Laos or Cambodia, or on Pacific islands. Only parts of the globalization process are affecting these countries, more through market initiatives than through UN and UNESCO’s policies that all of these countries had been signing. To implement agendas such as ‘sustainable development’ or improve the well-being of the population for many of these cities is not an easy task. JOC: Has public policy begun to address such concerns in Cambodia? MDS: There are so few relevant public policies concerning the wellbeing of the population and their way of life at any level of the Cambodia governmental. There is next to nothing in terms of creative industries (few music entrepreneurs, few fashion designers, for example) or creative cities. Even within a country like South Korea, most cities are unable to aspire to the levels of investment and policy that Seoul is capable of undertaking. Those cities that do adopt policies for the creative industries look to their economic and employment outcomes, not to make cities vivid and lively as such. But even such endeavours would not be possible in Cambodia. It is difficult to compare Cambodia even with neighbouring countries, such as Thailand and Vietnam, due to the lack of any relevant public policies in Cambodia, except the National Strategy for Culture (which is still lacking concrete instruments of implementation), and few others. We have to take in account that Cambodia is a post-genocide society— after the long civil war throughout sixties, Cambodia had four years of Khmer Rouge rule (1975–79) and 12 years of Vietnam occupation (1979–1991) which resulted in a complete destruction of the institutional public structures relevant for the wellbeing of the people. Many of these tasks have been undertaken by emerging civil society, helped by international humanitarian organizations, and not by public administration due to their lack of financial resources, knowledge, expertise and the goodwill to make things better. Cambodia is a society that went through four years of total annihilation resulting in the decline of a collective memory of traditional arts and culture. It has also caused a total degradation of public infrastructure and cultural services. Film production was banned and so were cinemas. Those with the cultural knowledge were punished and even killed. This was followed by twelve years of ‘reconstruction’ under Vietnamese occupation— but reconstruction was almost impossible without the knowledge or the skills to rebuild.



After fifteen years of social anomie, only when the Cambodia King returned from China and ‘democracy’ was installed, could the country begin a slow and painful process of reconstruction. And even here, most of the work was done by civil society: Bophana, Cambodian Living Arts (CLA), or by artists themselves. Arn Chorn Pond, founder of CLA was raised in a family of musicians, but civil war and the Khmer Rouge regime stopped his education. In the Khmer Rouge labour camps no one was allowed to practice any cultural skills or even speak about it publicly. However, towards the end of the Khmer Rouge regime, Arn got a chance to learn an instrument so as to be able to play ‘revolutionary songs’. But the Khmer Rouge killed the old master teacher to prevent him passing on the country’s music traditions—he was allowed only to teach three selected boys (Arn among them) the technique of playing. Thus, when Arn Chorn Pond returned from US (where he had fled to escape the Khmer Rouge Army) he created Cambodian Living Arts to revive Cambodian artistic traditions. Their first task was to search in the deep jungle for surviving musicians who could still remember how to play and sing traditional songs—17 of them were found and nominated as ‘Living human treasures of Cambodia’ by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts (MCFA) in 2013. 1 But, public servants are still composed of many ex-children-­soldiers of Khmer Rouge. That blocks any discussion about the past. So even though democracy was reinstalled, there was no public debate on the recovering of this collective memory. In addition, the private sector in Cambodia does not exist in a sense of local ownership. There are only 250 factories, all of which are owned by Chinese companies. Hotel chains and entertainment industries (these are often the only jobs and employment possibilities for performing artists, as the National Theatre was destroyed, and the Royal Ballet does not have its own space or regular repertory) are also owned by foreign companies, mostly Asian. Even some of the cultural heritage sites are owned by foreign companies, like Angkor National Museum in Siem Reap, owned by Thai Vilailuck International Holdings. The public service sector has been supported by foreign donations. Often foreign donors do not develop clear contracts with Government, preventing NGOs from implementing projects on a long term basis. These are very different to community projects, usually individually-lead programs, based on localised concepts, with a value-based proposition. They are often effective in regrouping collaborators and even volunteers. Knowing the above conditions in Cambodia, I proposed the public-­ civic partnership model to activate cultural policy in the country. With my



colleague Vesna Copic, I have articulated this model in the paper published in Encatc Journal of Cultural Policy and Management (2018). We argue that because the private sector does not take any developmental responsibility, or responsibility for the well-being of society, it should be for the government, with help from civil society, to achieve this goal. In reality, public-private partnerships are still the norm, especially at the city level, as they enable local entrepreneurial government to boost spending on flagship projects. JOC: How far has the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts (MCFA) been involved in these developments? MDS: Regarding cultural development, MCFA faces particular challenges. How to speak about creative industries or creative cities in a country where art education is not part of the national curriculum (a decision made by the Ministry of Education)? Plus, the MCFA is the lowest-ranked ministry, without any ‘free’ budget at its disposal. Its budget is spent wholly on operational costs (such as salaries), leaving no budget for funding arts and cultural projects. It does not invest in productions, thus many artistic groups on its payroll (most of them from the traditional art forms), just receive salaries, as they do not have places to rehearse and produce. The Chaktomuk Conference Hall, in the center of the city, can be rented from the MCFA but is used primarily for official gatherings and celebrations and rarely for concerts and performances. However, today, there is a new emerging NGO scene that is active in negotiating with the MCFA, creating together a Cultural Taskforce, that used to meet regularly (once a month) to prepare the annual Art Forum (2017, 2018). Among them we can find cultural entrepreneurs (Artisan Angkor; Association of Artisans of Cambodia, Cambodian Film Commission); cultural NGOs that have multiple activities, standing in for nonexistent public cultural centres (Bophana, Cambodian Living Arts, Metahouse, Ponleu Phare Selapak); performing art groups (Khmer Arts, Amrita); visual artists (Lyno Vuth, Sopheap Pich, Em Riem); galleries (SASA Creative Project, Java Creative Café, Romcheik5); inclusive arts organisations (Epic Arts); festivals (Kampot Arts Festival); music and film producers (Laura Mam, Sok Visal), and a few others. UNESCO’s Regional Office in Phnom Penh, worked hard to sensitise cultural entrepreneurs to the issues around the 2005 Convention, and to encourage the MCFA to apply to UNESCO’s ‘Expert Facility’ programme, through which our visit took place. However, it has not gone so far as to introduce the more complex notion of the creative city, as more than one public cultural policy officer



needs to be involved. In Cambodia, only one person from the MCFA had participated in this work, as the Focal Point of the MCFA (Mr. Syonn Sophearith) and when he left for USA, he was not replaced, thus slowly the work of the group lost its rhythm. This was exacerbated when UNESCO Phnom Penh decided to pass ownership of the Cultural Taskforce to the MCFA.2 Thus, it seems that the last Taskforce group meeting was held on 18th December 2018—without the Focal Point in the MCFA, and without UNESCO backing, the group could not find enough strength to self-organize. Consequently, in Cambodia the concept of creative cities is barely known and almost no public policies in these areas are led at city level. To help develop a new urban administrative zone of the city of Siem Reap, some 14 km away from the inner-city core, city authorities gave all existing and soon to be redundant public buildings and the land around them to private investors. They allowed the development of hotels, offices and other businesses in exchange for building of the new administrative city on the city’s outskirts. As a result, Siem Reap became a city without any public buildings in its center, without public spaces like gardens and parks. Siem Reap’s private investors did try to add cultural infrastructure to the new city: Angkor National Museum and local folk festivals (theatrical folklore cabaret) are amongst them. The Museum, although having the word “national” in its title, in reality is a private museum with artefacts belonging to the state collection. The museum has not been a financial success for investors with the majority of tourists just wanting to visit the nearby UNESCO World heritage site Angkor Wat. It’s a similar story with the Sihanouk Museum, a state-owned museum, at the periphery of the city, in spite of all the efforts of its director, to create a very special garden around it. It seems clear to us that the planning of the city is based on the logic of mass cultural heritage tourism that Siem Reap province is known for. There are no alternative city symbol bearers, or images with which inhabitants or tourists could identify. The new administrative city of Siem Reap is even worse, being so far away from the inner-city core. Most symbolic for the city perhaps, is the Angkor Conservation, a compound run by the MCFA, where thousands of Buddha heads, cut by smugglers, are laying around, already covered with moss. JOC: However, as you said, in capital cities we can often identify cosmopolitan tendencies, processes and dynamics that are influenced by globalization. Isn`t that the case of Phnom Penh?



MDS: Of course, we might find something of those influences in Phnom Penh`s cultural life. This is largely due to the concentration of foreign expats. All foreign embassies are there—the EU delegation, for example, along with representatives of international organizations, both business and humanitarian. These foreign organizations have been critical in enriching the cultural life in Phnom Penh. UNESCO Phnom Penh had organized, a few years ago, a fantastic festival—The Urban Currents: Arts, Architecture and Ideas. It gathered everything and everyone in Phnom Penh who might be relevant for thinking about city, from architects that experiment with traditional forms, to artists who create installations for public spaces, and to academics and other activists. Students from architecture department were encouraged to re-design their city from a pedestrian perspective. Performing and visual artists are asked to create interventions in different areas of the city. The UNESCO building on the main city square was allocated to the NGO Khmer Arts led by Sophiline Chapiro, the famous Cambodian dancer and choreographer and she invited as ‘scenographer’, Sopheap Pich, world famous visual artist whose works cannot be seen in the local Phnom Penh galleries. That the works of Sopheap Pich can be seen in Metropolitan Museum in New York but not in Phnom Penh is a typical problem of cities in the Global South. They have artists that are world renowned but if their price for an average art work is around 100 thousand dollars, it becomes impossible even to exhibit their works in the country where they are from. The Urban Currents Festival tried to change that by showcasing emerging architects, artists and intellectuals’ works in Cambodia. The emergent of grassroots activism in the local arts and cultural sectors has also played a significant role. This was evident in the creation of ‘The White Building preservation Project’. The White Building refers to some 468 municipal apartments, built in the 60s to accommodate for the growth of population in Phnom Penh. These apartments were part of larger urban project that included the Bassac River Front Cultural Complex designed by Cambodian architect Lu Ban Hap and Russian architect Vladimir Bodiansky, inaugurated in 1963. This has been the home for the National theatre. When a private developer became interested in the site in the 90s, ‘somehow’ the National Theatre burned down. Immediately afterwards, this developer got the land for its project, and in exchange the MCFA got a new building with a 200-seat auditorium, at the outskirts of the city. In the meantime, the National Theatre as an institution vanished.



This new small theatre hall is very rarely used, and mostly for ceremonies. When the appetite of developers increased, they asked for the space of White Building (it would be difficult to burn down the building full of people!). Then artists from the gallery Sa Sa Bassac, and many others formed a series of preservation activities to raise public awareness about urban devastation and threats of ‘investor urbanism’. Despite community resistance, this remnant of Phnom Penh’s modernist architecture was demolished in 2017. The disappearance of the White Building also marked the end of Phnom Penh’s modernist cultural neighbourhood. Many in the arts community worry that more landmark cultural infrastructure will be lost due to the local government’s incompetence in, and often deep antipathy towards, cultural development. A city without public policies will not be able to safeguard its culture, as happened to Phnom Penh, Battambang and many other Cambodian cities. In 1978 Yugoslav (Belgrade) television and its journalist, Nikola Vitorović had been able to enter Phnom Penh and film the empty city. He observed that only the Royal Palace and its environment were properly kept—everything else had been left to deterioration and decay, including the works of famous architect Vann Molyvann. This was followed after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime, by the destruction of the National Theatre, several neighbourhoods close to city center—even plans for the destruction of the National Library—as well as much of the urban heritage of both French colonialism and the Cambodian renaissance of the 50s. Thus, the cities have been destroyed and demolished not only physically but also spiritually, as the destruction of the cultural public spaces has shown. Consequently, there are no reasons why they would become places to inspire creative industries. Cities in Cambodia seem to have nothing to offer film directors compared to the beaches and wild nature found in the rest of Cambodia. For tourists, the options are limited to night markets and temples. Most cultural infrastructure there is poorly managed. For example, the stage within the new building of the MCFA, that was built on the southern periphery, is used only a few times a year. Indeed, as the contemporary documentary films of Meta House and Nicolaus Mesterharm have shown, the life of industrial workers in Cambodia remains still more akin to life in the village than the metropolitan rhythm of the city. JOC: Besides Phnom Penh, have you had opportunities to visit other cities of Cambodia and to compare local policies?



MDS: Yes, Vesna and I, along with different colleagues from the MCFA, visited Siem Reap, Banlung (Ratanakiri province), Kratie and Battambang. By ourselves, we visited Sihanoukville and Koh Kong, and of course, on our way, we stopped briefly, with little time to explore, several smaller cities: Kompong Cham, Takeo, Pursat, and others. Most of those cities can hardly be called cities as such, though for different reasons. Cities on the coast have been devastated by mass tourism, while cities like Banlung, are somehow forgotten, without much public infrastructure. Even, when public infrastructure is built by charitable donation, like the Cultural Centre in Banlung it could not be opened and activated, as there was simply no capacity within the local municipality to actually run such a public institution.3 This institution could be an educational, cultural, social and even economic centre in service of the local tribal population, but as soon as foreign funding expired, it became an empty shell in the center of the city. Unfortunately, local authorities have neither been educated nor encouraged to offer the space in Ratanakiri Centre to NGOs, for free or low-rent. Quite a lot of these NGOs provide important services to the public, like CANDO in Banlung, currently renting on the outskirts of the city. The second biggest city in Cambodia is Battambang. I visited the city with Sereyvuth Pen, the former director of the Department of Statistics of the MCFA (he is also a collector of ethnographic Cambodian objects), and he would speak about Battambang as the city of oranges, taking us to the special market for oranges. He was pleased to be able to show us how Battambang had become a hub for arts education in Cambodia. Non-for-­ profit organisation such as Phare Ponleu Selpak was founded in a refugee camp on the Thai border in 1986. This volunteer project began using simple drawing workshops to help young refugees overcome the trauma of war through art and self-expression. Today it is one of the most important art schools in Cambodia. Many artists were educated in Phare Ponleu Selpak, and have exhibited there. The Project Romcheik5 was setup by artists to create a contemporary art museum featuring the works of local artists. Without any public cultural policy, artists have to develop small entrepreneurial projects like this to make a living. Many of the gallery spaces in Battambang are reliant on the local tourist industry, which mostly do not see art as an attraction. I also got to know the spirit and the sense of Battambang city through the stories of Arn Chorn Pond, the creator of Cambodia Living Arts,



recorded in the book of Patricia McCormick, Never Fall Down: A Novel. Arn’s memories recall Battambang as a small but artistically vibrant city. This is the reason why it is so difficult to speak about creative industries or creative cities in Cambodia—where are the artists? None of the Cambodian cities that I visited had succeeded in defining their creative identity. The National Film Commission lead by Rithy Panh, has tried to sell the nature of Cambodia as a cheap destination for film crews from the Global North. But attempts like this have little impact on local creative industries. The most vivid sector of (what is known as) the cultural industries is perhaps crafts. The Association of Artisans of Cambodia has been quite active. What’s important to note here is that Crafts is supported not through cultural policy but with international humanitarian agendas built into it. Many production companies (such as Artisan Angkor and Creative Mekong) are created to support craft re-development. There are two models of craft development. One is through mixing Cambodian craftsmanship with foreign design, as in the case of Smateria. The other is through promoting an authentic aesthetic of Cambodian made crafts. There is no state investment in the design process, and very few alternatives to well-known products like silk purses, scarfs, flowers and small pillows. This makes Cambodian crafts sector hard to compete with their Asian neighbours—Chinese, Vietnamese and Thailand, to name a few. Another problem in Cambodia is the fact that most of the cultural projects are funded via humanitarian aid schemes, with a focus on victims of land mines. The sub-text of these schemes is to train victims of land mines, many of whom disabled, to become active participants of society. In this context, the art profession is open exclusively to disabled people. All three orchestras that I went to in Angkor Wat are orchestras of the disabled people, victims of land mines. The Dean of the Panasastra University told us that he cannot develop curricula in arts, as there is no interest for the young generation to study arts. In 2016, there were only 6 applications for painting department of Royal University of Fine Arts. JOC: How is the artistic and intellectual community reacting to these challenges? MDS: Although it is difficult to be opposition to government. There is a vivid art scene that is emerging. In Phnom Penh, there is a certain nucleus of the cultural communities that are critical of, and resistant to a commercial urbanism increasingly combined with authoritarian urbanism. Urban planning and architectural design have always been dictated by



power politics in Cambodia, through the building of new Presidential houses, Prime Ministerial building, and those for different ministries. These have destroyed the social and cultural fabric of Phnom Penh. Most importantly, such urbanism destroyed any possibilities to develop a collective cultural memory of the city. Cultural organizations such as Sa Sa Bassac Gallery, Java Gallery, and Meta House are amongst the most vibrant and open cultural infrastructures in Phnom Penh. They fulfil diverse roles as part of the emergent cultural fabric of Cambodian cities. Bophana is the center for culture of memories and film education. Cambodian Living Arts is dedicated to storytelling for Cambodian living treasures as well as reviving musical and theatrical heritage through cultural tourism and festivals. Amrita is a rare dance & theatre organization. Sovanna Phum Art Association is a shadow & puppet theatre. They are already cooperating on numerous projects contributing culturally and socially to the cultural fabric of Cambodian cities.

Notes 1. study_report_cambodia.pdf. 2. e-mail from January 7, 2019, sent from UNESCO office Phnom Penh vice-­ director Delanghe, Philippe, to all members to TaskForce group, including the authors, as outside volontary advisors. 3. Under the Creative Industries Support Programme of UNESCO, part of their Millennium Development Goals Agenda, 2008–2011 (financed by Spanish Government), two important projects were funded: the Mondulkiri Resource and Documentation Centre and the Ratanakiri Cultural Centre.


A Activism, 297 Ambon creative city of music, 253–261 Asia, 1–9 Awards, 227–230, 233 B Baguio City, 79, 81–83, 87, 89 Bandung Creative City Forum (BCCF), 277, 279–281 Bollywood, 175–184 Branding, 161, 162, 164 C China, 162, 163, 165, 166, 169–171 City identity, 279 Clusters, 221–233 Contexts, 130, 132, 135, 138, 140 Cool Japan, 187–197

Creative cities, 1–9, 13–24, 41–53, 59–72, 77–90, 96–98, 100–103, 108, 129–140, 146–149, 156, 203–216, 221–233, 239–250, 265–274 Creative class/underclass, 13–24, 96–98, 100, 101, 107 Creative cluster, 146–157 Creative collective, 113–127 Creative Economy, 77–81, 83, 85–90, 255, 267, 273, 280–282 Creative industries, 14, 16, 18, 19, 21–23, 187–197, 254–256 Creative space, 153 Creativity, 278, 281 Creativity and diversity, 196 Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs), 9, 129–133, 135, 139, 140, 222, 227–230, 233 Cultural diversity, 278 Cultural imperialism, 290 Cultural industry, 176, 183

 Note: Page numbers followed by ‘n’ refer to notes.


© The Author(s) 2020 X. Gu et al. (eds.), Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia,




Cultural memory, 113–127 Cultural policy, 7, 9, 212, 292, 294, 295, 299, 300 Cultural values, 273, 274

K Korean Wave, 145–147, 149–153, 155–157, 205, 208–215 K-pop, 205–212, 214

D Democratisation, 187, 194, 195, 197 Developing cities, 246 Discourse, 77–90 Diversity of Cultural Expression, 291

L Local culture, 129–132, 135–140 Local economic development, 266, 272–274

F Film festival, 161–171 G Gentrification, 95–98, 102, 106, 107 George Town, 113–127 Global city, 27–36 Globalisation, 13 The Greater Bay Area, 221–233 H Hallyu, 205, 209, 216n2 Hin Bus Depot, 126 I Identity, 161, 169–171 Independent, 95–97, 104–108 Indonesia Creative Cities Network (ICCN), 277, 278, 281 Intelligent cities, 42, 46, 51 Isomorphism, 226

M Malaysia, 113–127 Manila, 79, 82, 85, 87, 89, 90 Media cities, 44–47, 49–53 Memory, 126 cultural memory, 126 Mumbai, 175–184 N Narrative, 126 Neoliberalism, 244, 246 O Organic space, 118, 124–126 P Peace, 253–254 Place branding strategy, 27–36 Policy, 177, 180–184 Policy transfer, 14 Post conflict, 253–261 Q Quasi-city, 35


R Regional collaboration, 233 Regional integration, 233 Residents and communities, 129, 134, 138–140

T Tactics, 126 disruptive tactics, 126 Tainan City, 129–140 Taiwan, 129, 130, 132, 136, 139

S Second-tier city, 239–250 Seoul/Itaewon, 95–108, 203–216 Smart cities, 42, 45, 47–51, 162, 168–171 Southeast Asia, 243 Survival, 103–107 Sustainability, 59–72 Sustainable development, 265–274

U UNESCO, 59–72 UNESCO 2005 Convention, 292 Urban cultural policy, 18, 65, 148, 212 Urban cultures, 59–72 Urban development, 146, 148, 155, 157 Urban development strategy, 28