This is necessary in order to keep the functionality of the notion of creative industries to incorporate location conditions as well as its comparability in different places.
Author: Xuan Jiang
The emergence of creative industries is accompanied by globalization and the knowledge economy as well as the growing importance of cultural industries (Flew, 2002). The concept of creative industries was formally established in the United Kingdom in 1997 as a national economic development and image changing strategy (DCMS, 1998). Since the concept was born, it has attracted much attention from academics and policy makers and has been largely promoted in countries and cities in the West. The trend still continues. Today, creative industries have been among the fastest growing sectors of the global economy (Cunningham, 2004). During the global diffusion, the concept "creative industries" has varied without a clear definition. It varies across locations and scales with regard to the term, definition, and sectoral combination. Indeed, it varies according to different understandings, preferences, research goals, local conditions and resources, and policy implications. The flexibility for defining creative industries is functional in policy implications, but difficult to undertake in cross-place comparative studies. A universal definition, such as that defined by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) (2008), which measures creative industries in terms of export, is needed simultaneously. Meanwhile, no matter how creative industries vary, policies supporting their development are similar among countries and regions, with the goals of building a mature market for them. With much academic attention given to Western countries and regions, the situations of the creative industries in Asia remain less known. It is worth exploring creative industries in China, because it is a country of rapid growth and has a leading global economy. With the global framework noted above, the patterns, performances, and problems of using creative industries for urban and economic development in China are examined and evaluated at three urban centers: Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou. Through intensive literature review and policy scanning at the national level, the following have been explored: (1) the complex diffusion pattern throughout China, (2) the wide variations of creative industries across scales and locations, (3) the ways for defining creative industries, and (4) policies supporting creative industries. Also, government efforts, including cross-department governmental participation, locally determined definitions, and detailed policies and strategies, have been described for the three aforementioned urban centers: Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. Further, the various creative industries, including one defined by the Chinese Association of Social Sciences (CASS) as well as those locally defined, have been evaluated. This was done by comparing the CASS definition to that defined by the United Kingdom in addition to comparing the CASS definition to those locally defined in the urban centers of Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou. The diffusion pattern of the creative industries has been assessed, also. From most aspects, the study reveals that the current situation of the creative industries in China reinforces those occurring in the world. Throughout China and the world, the strategy for developing creative industries has been widely diffused. These types of industries make positive contributions to economic and urban development. As previously stated, creative industries vary across locations and scales, based on different understandings, preferences, study intentions, local resources, and policy implications. Flexibly defining creative industries is practical in policy-making, but hard for cross-place comparison with regard to economic estimates. In contrast, the UNCTAD definition makes worldwide comparison possible, and the CASS definition makes the nationwide comparison in China possible. At the same time, the one-model-fits-all strategy (i.e., developing the same sector(s) without considering local backgrounds) exists in a large number of places in China and in the world. Policies for developing creative industries are similar. Aiming to establish the mature market for the industries, governments foster enterprises, incubate clusters, attract and retain workforce, brand products, build partnerships, and so on. At the same time, China has its specialties. Policies in Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou tend to focus on the supply side of the market and neglect the demand side, which is different from the global trend of fostering both sides of the market. Also, policies in Guangzhou governments emphasize the support for the large-sized enterprises in creative industries, which is contrary to the global trend of supporting the small and medium-sized enterprises. The study supports the viewpoint that coexistence of a locally defined and standard definition is needed. This is necessary in order to keep the functionality of the notion of creative industries to incorporate location conditions as well as its comparability in different places.