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 11: From education to enterprise in Singapore: converting old schools to new artistic and aesthetic use

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


Particularly in the first decade of the twenty-first century, a range of related ideas surrounding the ‘creative economies’ were adopted by numerous government agencies in Singapore, signalling the optimism with which they approached the sector. Official discourse included references to creative/cultural industries, creative manpower, creative workforce, creative clusters, creative town and cultural capital. As we explained in Chapter 5, the economic potential of culture and the arts was championed by numerous political leaders, including and perhaps particularly by the then Minister for Information and the Arts, George Yeo. Agencies such as the Economic Development Board and, later, the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA), as well as the Economic Review Committee (ERC) of 2002 were active in promoting this potential. Official documents such as those we introduced in Chapter 5 (for example, Report of the Advisory Council on Culture and the Arts (1989), Investing in Singapore’s Cultural Capital by the Ministry of Information and the Arts (2002) and Creative Industries Development Strategy by the Economic Review Committee (2002)) serve as reminders of the context within which we must examine the use of space for cultural and creative activities.

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