Arts, Culture and the Making of Global Cities

Arts, Culture and the Making of Global Cities

Creating New Urban Landscapes in Asia

Lily Kong, Ching Chia-ho and Chou Tsu-Lung

While global cities have mostly been characterized as sites of intensive and extensive economic activity, the quest for global city status also increasingly rests on the creative production and consumption of culture and the arts. Arts, Culture and the Making of Global Cities examines such ambitions and projects undertaken in five major cities in Asia: Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei and Singapore. Providing a thorough comparison of their urban imaging strategies and attempts to harness arts and culture, as well as more organically evolved arts activities and spaces, this book analyses the relative successes and failures of these cities. Offering rich ethnographic detail drawn from extensive fieldwork, the authors challenge city strategies and existing urban theories and reveal the many complexities in the art of city-making.

Chapter 7: Cultural creativity, clustering and the state in Beijing

Lily Kong, Ching Chia-ho and Chou Tsu-Lung

Subjects: asian studies, asian economics, asian geography, economics and finance, asian economics, cultural economics, regional economics, geography, cities, human geography, urban and regional studies, cities


While the preceding chapters focused on state-vaunted cultural monuments, the next five chapters turn the gaze to ‘bottom-up’ initiatives that demonstrate the cultural life of each of the cities. The focus is on organically evolved cultural clusters, which, nevertheless, often attract the attention of city governments, resulting in transformations of various kinds and degrees – for better, but often for worse. In this chapter, we begin our analysis with the capital of China, Beijing. We highlighted in Chapter 2 how the Beijing municipal government, as part of its effort to build Beijing into a global city, has been actively engaged in the creation of cultural space since the latter part of the 1990s. This strategic, government-sponsored development of cultural space comprises the construction of infrastructure, the industrialization of culture and the building of a market system. The state’s discourse, which underpins its strategic intervention, highlights its preference for a model of cultural industry development based on spatial agglomeration. Another aspect of this discourse emphasizes how the development of creative culture is key to the success of the state’s project. As a result, unlike other Chinese cities that attach importance to the development of cultural industry, Beijing puts a premium on the development of creative culture.

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