The ASEAN Creative Cities Forum and Exhibition is an initiative by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) through the Design Center of the Philippines. The aim is to nurture the creative economy and explore the potential of developing creative cities or hubs in the Philippines and the rest of South East Asian region.

The ASEAN Creative Cities Forum and Exhibition is part of the calendar of activities of DTI under the ASEAN 2017 Business and Investment Program. DTI heads the ASEAN’s Committee on Business and Investment Promotion as the Philippines takes the ASEAN chairmanship.

Creative economy

A concept developed by Prof. John Howkins in 2001, a creative economy places and measures value on ideas and other imaginative qualities, rather than the traditional economic indicators such as land, labor, and capital. It pertains to all economic activity that depends on and involves a person’s individual creativity, contributing an economic value, regardless if the output has a cultural element or not. In such context, creative economy is present whenever an individual’s creativity is the main source of value, and the main cause of a transaction.

Howkins applied the term creative economy to the arts, cultural goods and services, toys and games, and research and development. Howkins’ creativity-based model includes all kinds of creativity, whether expressed in art or innovation.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) work on the creative economy identifies creative industries at the core of creative economies, saying that “[t]he creative industries are at the crossroads of the arts, culture, business and technology. All these activities are intensive in creative skills and can generate income through trade and intellectual property rights.” Aside from generating jobs and income, the creative economy pushes the innovative capacity of the country.

Creative city

The creative economy concept has spawned several initiatives. Among these are those of the British Council and United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The British Council states that:

"Creative Cities are successful cities. They succeed culturally, economically, socially and environmentally. They are good places to live: they attract talented people, who attract investment and create jobs. By finding innovative solutions to the problems such as crime, traffic congestion, they make life better for citizens. Think of Barcelona, Berlin or Seattle."

UNESCO defines creative industries in its reports Understanding Creative Industries and the Creative Economy Report 2013 as: “...encompasses a broader range of activities which include the cultural industries plus all cultural or artistic production, whether live or produced as an individual unit. The creative industries are those in which the product or service contains a substantial element of artistic or creative endeavour and include activities such as architecture and advertising... and those that depend on innovation, including many types of research and software development.”

UK model

The UK is one of the proponents of creative cities, propitiated outside the UK by the British Council. The British Council has been working with and supporting creative cities and hubs around the world for several years. This has included programs such as the European Creative Hubs Forum, Creative Hub Making Vietnam and mapping studies in Europe, Vietnam and Taiwan. The Department for Culture, Media, and Sport identifies nine creative sectors in creative industries, in line with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) classification.

These are:

  • Advertising and marketing
  • Architecture
  • Crafts
  • Design: product, graphic and fashion design
  • film, TV, video, radio and photography
  • IT, software and computer services
  • Publishing
  • Museums, galleries and libraries
  • Music, performing and visual arts

UNESCO model

On the other hand, the UNESCO Creative Cities network recognizes seven creative fields, namely:

  • Crafts and Folk Art
  • Design
  • Film
  • Gastronomy
  • Literature
  • Media Arts
  • Music

The network is where "cities acknowledge their commitment to sharing best practices, developing partnerships that promote creativity and the cultural industries, strengthening participation in cultural life and integrating culture in urban development plans."  (http://en.unesco.org/creative-cities/sites/creative-cities/files/Mission_Statement_UNESCO_Creative_Cities_Network.pdf)

Objectives of ASEAN Creative Cities Forum and Exhibition

- To further promote the creative and innovative by featuring initiatives of 10 ASEAN countries in making culture and creativity a driving force for sustainable development and urban regeneration;

-To promote the Creative Industries, Creative Clusters and Creative Cities as a viable strategy for sustainable and inclusive development in the Southeast Asian Region, from the perspective of nation-building as well as ASEAN integration;

-To provide a platform for sharing of information, case studies, and best practices by international and local experts on the development of creative economy, most particularly creative clusters and creative cities;

-To gather policy makers, local government officials, international development agencies, business communities and the academe from ASEAN to network with international and regional leaders and influencers of the Creative Industries and to initiate partnerships and collaboration to move the creative economy and creative cities agenda forward;

-To highlight the unique cultural and creative assets of ASEAN and ASEAN cities and underscore its great potential as engine of growth and differentiation factor for sustainable economic development; and

-To catalyze the entry of more ASEAN cities in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

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