Challenges for Hanoi as a creative city

Challenges for Hanoi as a creative city

Hanoi was officially recognised as a creative city of design and a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UNCCN) in late 2019. One year on, RMIT University lecturer Dr Abdul Rohman discusses the challenges for the creative city to move forward confidently.

news-1-challenges-for-hanoi-as-a-creative-city Hanoi became a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UNCCN) in late 2019.

The creative industry in Hanoi has always been tied to the notion of nation building, and the designation of a creative city helps to focus efforts on designs that support the agenda of strengthening the nation’s geopolitical, economic and socio-cultural positions.

Such strategy seeks to promote an identity that reflects the intention of the founding fathers to move forward collectively as a society, without uprooting the nation from its original reason of being.

In carrying out this agenda, Hanoi has the advantage of being the capital city of Vietnam. This means it has access to national and international actors with the ability to shape policies and promulgate a rich, diverse collaborative network.

In particular, UNESCO Vietnam has facilitated different partners to converse and inform policies and practices for years, while new initiatives like the Vietnam Festival of Creativity & Design (presented by RMIT University) are bringing fresh platforms for collaboration and talent showcases.

However, the city still faces fundamental difficulties in synergising an array of local identities and creative actors.

news-2-challenges-for-hanoi-as-a-creative-city Dr Abdul Rohman is a lecturer at the School of Communication & Design, RMIT University.

A relatively new position in the UNCCN calls for diverse actors to connect and act collectively to tackle the sporadic nature of creative works: creative actors have various interests; some are competing, but resolvable. Friction is expected, particularly in reconciling the creative actors’ philosophical views and the urge for economic growth.

Moreover, there is more room to offer inclusive platforms for creative talents from disadvantaged groups, such as people with disabilities, people with HIV/AIDS, and lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals.

These groups have been conditioned to engage in casual creative sectors since the formal sectors have only recently started to accommodate their needs, talents and identities. That being said, learning from their experiences can offer new ways of creative practices.

With regards to local identities, an overfocus on mass production for economic growth can potentially lead to the discontinuity and disappearance of local identities. Therefore, future efforts should focus on the preservation and transformation of the identities over time, and how best to amplify those identities to the public.

Such an understanding shall inform policies and ways of strategically communicating them to diverse actors. The policies that recognise local practices, needs, wisdom and values are imperative for reconciling different interests.

The need to grow economically, particularly in an emerging market such as Vietnam, is inevitable. Creative cities in the making can still achieve that without compromising the things that define them uniquely.

news-3-challenges-for-hanoi-as-a-creative-city Hanoi’s position as a creative city helps to focus efforts on designs that support the agenda of strengthening the nation’s geopolitical, economic and socio-cultural positions.

This story was adapted from a published article on the Jakarta Post.

Story: Dr Abdul Rohman

20 November 2020

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