Bangkok Creative City Dialogue: A Powerful Cooperation Between 10 Creative Cities Across 8 Countries

The Creative Economy Agency

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A group photo of representatives from all 10 creative cities and the Executive Director of CEA

The Creative Economy Agency (Public Organization) or CEA, as a representing entity of UCCN – Bangkok City of Design under the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) in collaboration with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), organized the Bangkok Creative City Dialogue under the theme “Becoming and Creating Impact as a Creative City.” 

This gathering brought UCCN members from 10 cities in eight Asian and European countries, namely (1) Asahikawa City of Design, Japan; (2) Bandung City of Design, Indonesia; (3) Bangkok City of Design, Thailand; (4) Kuching City of Gastronomy, Malaysia; (5) Nagoya City of Design, Japan; (6) Perth City of Crafts and Folk Art, United Kingdom; (7) Phetchaburi City of Gastronomy, Thailand; (8) Seoul City of Design, South Korea; (9) Singapore City of Design; and (10) Wuhan City of Design, China. 

Discussions were held to share ideas and visions that would help drive each of the creative cities forward including the aspects of culture that would play a key role in international business and future economic expansion. 

CEA as the key driver of creative cities in Thailand

Chakrit Pichyangkul, Executive Director of CEA

In the opening speech by Chakrit Pichyangkul, Executive Director of CEA, he gave a brief overview of CEA mission as the key entity working to drive the country’s creative economy. 

According to Chakrit, the CEA acts as a Creative Workforce that can resonate with a powerful and positive impact at both domestic and international level. In order to achieve CEA mission, it is essential to integrate three important elements which are policy to promote revenue, facilitation in terms of resources and areas that encourage creativity and establish robust connection between creativity and business. 

All these three elements will help attract more of those who work in the area of creativity and help promote products at international level, leading to sustainable and innovative development that has become one of the issues of global concern.

People’s happiness through “Forest of Design” – Asahikawa City of Design, Japan

Ryoju Hamada, a representative from Asahikawa City of Design, Japan

Ryoju Hamada, the first representative from Asahikawa prefecture, presented ideas under the topic “Diverse Ways to Realize Design City: The Challenge from Northern Hokkaido.” 

Asahikawa has been named UCCN – Asahikawa City of Design in 2019. Elements of designs have been used to encourage various aspects of development under the concept “Forest of Design” which was concluded following numerous researches and discussions. It is believed that design can be at the heart of city development similar to a large tree that acts as a center of growth supporting the surrounding plants to flourish alongside. The first project “History Tree” reflects the heart and soul of pioneering and dynamic changes that have occurred in the city through time. 

However, Mr. Hamada said as there was a growing concern around the world today on Carbon Neutral City and Smart City as well as City Transformation, Asahikawa therefore embraced these aspects into the development plan for Asahikawa. Plans are also in place to expand this concept to Regional Tree by working closely with the neighboring cities and increasing the workforce to become Asahikawa regional. The Education Tree concept has been initiated to encourage the public to use the area for educational and learning purposes. The implementation of the concept aims to expand and correspond to the UN mission of sustainable development.

Creativity from people to community – Bandung City of Design, Indonesia

Dwinita Larasati, a representative from Bandung City of Design, Indonesia

Dwinita Larasati, a representative from Bandung City of Design Indonesia, presented a creative city concept under the topic “From Bottom Up Initiatives to Committee Resilience.” 

Bandung has chosen a bottom-up work structure starting from people and elevated to policy level. The introduction of Bandung’s creative economy index using a tool called “Indonesia Creative City Index Dashboard” helps place greater emphasis on organized activities and campaigns for the city. The people in the community are given opportunities to display their works and play a part in supporting events such as Bandung Design Biennale 2017.

In 2021, a “10 Principles 11 ways” work concept was determined to drive the city forward through collaboration of establishments from both private and public sectors. A range of activities were organized to deliver designs to the community through architecture under the campaign “Development of Community – Driven Organic Placemaking.” Talented designers were brought together to revive old buildings and structures within the community. A 10-year (2020-2030) human resource development programs are in place especially those set out to meet the needs of younger generations. 

In 2023 a number of activities will be organized to promote Bandung including The Future of Creative Economy and Bandung Design Biennale 2023 to ensure an on-going development in other aspects.    

Unlock Bangkok potential as the city for living, investment, and travel – Bangkok City of Design, Thailand

Pichit Virankabutra, Deputy Director of the CEA

Pichit Virankabutra, Deputy Director of the CEA, presented the ideas of using creativity to overcome the challenges of Bangkok under the topic “Transforming Bangkok with Design and Creativity.” 

Creativity will be an important element to make Bangkok an attractive place for living, investment and travel. However, there are various challenges and obstacles that must be overcome since a megacity like Bangkok receives a huge influx of people at all times. Problems of road traffic, poverty, environmental degradation and pollution remain the key concern for the development of Bangkok. On the other hand, Bangkok is diverse in terms of culture and history, the city is populated with creative minds and a design hub for establishments such as TCDC and more than 20 university design centers.   

Design has been highlighted as an element to help solve existing problems for Bangkok with the aim of promoting better welfare of the people. In doing so, plans were made focusing on four important dimensions of the city as follows: 

1. City design focusing on increasing green area and effective use of available areas; 

2. Social dimension with the use of the Traffy Fondue system designed by the National Science Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) where the public are able to take photos and notify the problems with immediate remedial actions; 

3. Economic and wealth using the know-how of talented designers to promote business sustainability where CEA has worked with various organizations to ensure its continuity for other branches of businesses; 

4. Transportation under the Green City policy such as the introduction of electric boats to reduce water pollution. 

CEA has put together a Creative City Index to collect data of creative economy growth and factors that encourage creative economy in five key cities in Thailand. The lessons learned from data collection have been used to further develop other 33 cities through Thailand Creative District Network (TCDN).

World food must go through important changes – Kuching City of Gastronomy, Malaysia

Karen Shepherd, a representative from Kuching City of Gastronomy, Malaysia

Karen Shepherd, a representative from Kuching, said Kuching was named the City of Gastronomy because of its diverse culture and unique ingredients. 

For most of the people, their ways of life revolve around food and agriculture. Peppers cultivation is popular in many areas which is the reason for Kuching to promote a food industry that benefits the people in different sectors. The challenge currently faced is to bring about changes in the food industry to become more modern while maintaining food identity and taste. Kuching also has a policy to preserve the city’s ancient custom that can be passed onto the next generations. Kuching is also working towards sustainability development through networking with different parties at international level to build community strength and equal participation from all segments. 

Last year, Kuching invited world experts to come together to share ideas and knowledge. Architects within the community have been assigned to conduct studies on the prototype project of other countries including those implemented for Bangkok. 

Designs that “shape”, “enhance” and “transfer” – Nagoya City of Design, Japan

Eriko Esaka, a representative of Nagoya City of Design, Japan

Eriko Esaka talked about the transfer of cultural heritage under the topic “Streaming Heritage Between the Plateaus and the Sea.” 

Nagoya was named the City of Design in 2008 under three main objectives which are nurturing the new generation, promoting environmental conservation and building a strong cultural network within the UCCN. These three essential goals combined will help drive the creative economy by building strong communities, creating products and effective utilization of human resources in creativity. For Nagoya, designs mean bringing together people’s wisdom and technology to bring about sustainable development. 

After being designated City of Design in 2008, Nagaya has continued to pursue its commitment to the task of nurturing young artists while working to preserve the city’s surrounding environment. The work radiates from the concept of Streaming Heritage through presentation of arts and culture, combined history with contemporary art installations. A meeting related to Media Art was held in parallel with seminars to exchange ideas and knowledge from experts to stimulate economic growth and social related activities in Nagoya.

Local crafts and arts of world class scale – Perth City of Crafts and Folk Art, United Kingdom

Anna Day, a representative from Perth City of Crafts and Folk Art, United Kingdom

Anna Day, a representative from Perth, Scotland, United Kingdom, said Perth was named the City of Crafts and Folk Art under UCCN in 2021. 

Crafts in Perth are not limited to local crafts or embroideries but also include handicrafts of various types ranging from local arts and beverages. Perth has a distinctive culture that highlights the importance of travel and tourism, for example, the campaign “Reimagine the High Street” that aims to revive areas where business was once booming. Perth also uses its arts for decorative purposes such as illuminated sign posts which brightens the streets while offering safety for pedestrians and stimulates tourism. 

The Government of Scotland is also working closely with travel and tourism related organizations to develop a database called Scotland’s UNESCO Trail which helps identify UNESCO designated locations with background information of the area, its culture and ways of life of the people for future references for the public.

Pride beyond tastes – Phetchaburi City of Gastronomy, Thailand

Wanpen Mungsri, Deputy Governor of Phetchaburi province

Wanpen Mungsri, Deputy Governor of Phetchaburi province, shared her views under the topic “Phetchaburi Creative City of Gastronomy – Knowledge Exchange on Becoming and Creating Impact as a Creative City.” 

In 2022, UNESCO named Phetchaburi City of Gastronomy under the creative cities network. In order to ensure its readiness in being part of the network, the plans for Creative Cities have been included in the city’s strategic plan, build engagement of all related sectors and establishments to correspond with the main goals, looking for ways to combine food with cultures through designs that complement one another in the right balance. 

It is equally important to raise awareness of creative cities among the people of Phetchaburi so that they take pride in their hometown. On-going activities and schemes are being organized to encourage young generations to return and develop their birthplace including the Phra Nakhon Khiri festival where an open area is dedicated to showcase various forms of arts and crafts and many popular food menus. The revenue generated in 2022 was 174% higher than that of 2020. 

However, the challenges are to ensure that all the eight sub-districts in Phetchaburi are self-sufficient in terms of food and moving forward with a unified goal of bringing Phetchaburi into the world arena to become known for its gastronomic cuisine.

Designs that bring boundless possibility – Seoul City of Design, South Korea

Ayoung UM, a representative from Seoul City of Design, South Korea

Ayoung UM, a representative and team leader from Seoul Design Foundation, said since Seoul was designated as the City of Design by UNESCO in 2010, the city has committed to using designs to improve the quality of lives of its people. 

The dedication to meet this goal is apparent with the revival of Dongdaemun Design Plaza or Seoul Upcycling Plaza and Seoul Incubating Design Center have brought them back to the livelihood they once were. Digital innovation has played a major role in making this task possible with added events like the Seoul Light Show that drew millions of visitors in 2019. Since then the Seoul Light Show has become an annual festivity not to be missed using different stories and tales as the theme for each year.

Seoul Design Foundation has five main objectives, namely Empathetic Design, Inclusive Design, Contributive Design, Resilient Design and Sustainable Design. It focuses on designs that understand and serve all possible purposes of the people, and contribute to social needs in a sustainable manner with greater flexibility. The project that reflects all the five objectives is the Seoul Design Award for Sustainable Life.

Sending love through designs – Singapore City of Design, Singapore

Kelly Tan, a representative from Singapore City of Design, Singapore

Kelly Tan, a representative from Singapore, talked about the Singapore model under the topic “Loveable Singapore Project.” It is believed that happy citizens can adjust themselves better in any situation by being in a city that is adaptable. This can be achieved through six important components, namely: 

1. Never leave anyone behind; 
2. Build connection with creativity; 
3. Attract people’s attention and familiarize them with the city; 
4. Enhance relationship; 
5. Initiate changes; and 
6. Freedom in creating identity.

Plans are also in place for Singapore to send love to its city using four factors, namely Appreciating Love, Giving Love, Creating Love, and Unexpected Love. All of these elements will help create an atmosphere of happiness in areas that have been put up for different forms of design with the aim of accommodating people of all ages.

Singapore places special emphasis on stimulating creativity through the School of Community Bootcamp project, which was launched under cooperation between various organizations, designers and stakeholders, who came together to share ideas, knowledge and know-how to help solve problems and promote creativity. This collaboration provides a good opportunity for organizations to establish direct contact with the stakeholders.   

Restore civilization through designs – Wuhan City of Design, China

Ivy Yao, a representative from Wuhan City of Design, China

Ivy Yao spoke about Wuhan under the concept “Urban Renewal: Old City New Life” or restoring the city to its vibrant and energetic atmosphere.

Wuhan was named the City of Design in 2017. The “Old City New Life” concept aims to bring changes to the city using creativities and designs with the people being at the center of this development. At the initial stage, Wuhan adopted engineering design as the leading element. To ensure the success of this project, the government has introduced several policies to offer greater incentives to attract capable individuals to present their projects and increase public engagement. Training programs are scheduled annually for some 5,000 young designers. 

From this point onwards, Wuhan focuses on effective communication to enhance more public engagement using over 60,000 design personalities to create financial incentives. The people are encouraged to present their projects such as building designs with better access or User-Friendly Design for future use by upcoming designers which will in turn help bring more innovative designs and ideas. Wuhan also organized the Wuhan Design Contest, a combination of history and arts event, in collaboration with other cities under the UCCN. Workshops and seminars are also arranged to make Wuhan more modern to meet future challenges. Past campaigns and projects will be maintained to further develop and promote the creative city objectives.

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The Creative Economy Agency

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