Arts, Culture and the Making of Global Cities
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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.
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Chapter 5: The making of a 'Renaissance City': building cultural monuments in Singapore

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


Without a doubt, Singapore has global aspirations to be in the superleague of cities. Indeed, some argue that it can already claim global city status (Baum, 1999, p. 1098), as a ‘linchpin of the new global capitalism’ (Chua, 1993, p. 105). Sally (2014) goes even further, asserting that there are only four truly global cities – London, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore. There are numerous reasons for this confidence. Baum (1999, p. 1098) attributes it in part to Singapore’s physical infrastructure – its ‘efficient transport system and telecommunications network, modern and efficient airport and sea terminals, efficient business districts and a highly developed public housing system, all of which act to strengthen the city-state’s global competitiveness’. It is also a function of Singapore’s ‘international presence as a major commercial and financial centre as well as a significant location for the regional headquarters of major multi-national corporations’ (Lim and Malone-Lee, 1995, p. 90). Baum (1999, p. 1098) further points to the increasingly ‘global reach of both the economy and society’, evidenced by the ‘numbers of foreign-controlled companies, the amount of foreign capital invested in Singapore and the extent of international transport flows, both cargo and passenger’. These passenger flows, in turn, are of multiple hues, ranging from the business and professional class to unskilled immigrant workers and tourists.

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