Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Design Canberra: a whole world out there – building global connection through the UNESCO Creative Cities Network

See main article, 'Designs on the future'

This is part of the article, 'Designs on the future – how Australia's designed city has global plans', about the annual Design Canberra festival and the plans for its future. The ultimate vision of Craft ACT for Canberra is to add another major annual event to Floriade, Enlighten and the Multicultural Festival, filling a gap between them and complementing them all.

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network was created in 2004 to promote cooperation between cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development. The 116 cities which currently make up this network work together towards the common objective of placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level. The Network covers seven creative fields: Crafts and Folk Arts; Media Arts; Film; Design; Gastronomy; Literature; and Music.

Through sharing knowledge across a range of cultural clusters around the world, it would cultivate innovation through the exchange of know-how, experiences and best practices. As a result it would promote diverse cultural products in national and international markets and create new opportunities for cooperation and partnership with other cities.

Essential and desirable
For a city to join the network it needs to exhibit certain crucial features, including having an established design industry and a cultural landscape fuelled by design and the built environment, such as architecture, urban planning, public spaces, monuments, transportation, signage and information systems and typography. The city needs to have design schools and design research centres and practicing groups of creators and designers with a pattern of continuous activity at either local or national level, or both.

'Melbourne is a UNESCO City of Literature and Adelaide a City of Music'

It’s also helpful to have experience in hosting fairs, events and exhibits dedicated to design as part of providing opportunities for local designers and urban planners to take advantage of local materials and make use of distinctive local conditions, whether part of the urban or natural environment. For this all to work, the city must have design-driven creative industries, such as architecture and interiors, fashion and textiles, jewellery and accessories, interaction design, urban design, and sustainable design.

For cities that exhibit these crucial features, applications are assessed on the willingness and capacity of the city to contribute to the objectives of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, which extends beyond design. Melbourne, for example is a City of Literature and Adelaide a City of Music. This contribution includes such things as utilising its capability to strengthen the creation, production, distribution, and enjoyment of cultural goods and services at the local level.

It needs to be able to promote creativity and creative expressions, especially among key groups, such as women and youth. On top of this it must be able to enhance access to and participation in cultural life as well as enjoyment of cultural goods. To do this it need to show that it can integrate cultural and creative industries into local development plans.

A member of a diverse collection
There is currently a wide range of cities amongst the 22 Cities of Design in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. Craft ACT partner, the University of Canberra, already has well-developed relationships with Dundee, one of these cities in the UK, through ongoing joint design projects with them. The other cities are sprinkled across several continents but could not be described as wide-spread at this stage. They are in Latin America – Argentina (Buenos Aires), Brazil (Curitiba) and Mexico (Puebla); Europe – Germany (Berlin), Spain (Bilbao), Hungary (Budapest), Austraia (Graz), Finland (Helsinki), Lithuania (Kaunas), France (Saint-Etienne) and Italy (Turin); North America – The United States (Detroit) and Canada (Montreal).

'Most importantly for Australia, many of the Cities of Design are in the Asia/Pacific region – in key partners such as Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, China and Singapore'

Most importantly for Australia, many are in the Asia/Pacific region – in key partners such as Indonesia (Bandung), Japan (Kobe and Nagoya), South Korea (Seoul), and above all China (Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai). Of particular interest, given the commencement in September of direct international flights from Canberra to Wellington and Singapore, is that Singapore, with a long history of involvement in creative industries, is also a Design City. Looking at the list, it is fascinating that it ranges from regional cities to some of the most important capital cities on the planet.

Long-standing commitment
UNESCO notes that joining the Creative Cities Network is a long-standing commitment. It must involve a local participative process and a forward-looking approach. Cities must present a realistic action plan including specific projects, initiatives or policies to be executed in the following four years to implement the objectives of the Network. This involves commitments, including financial support for projects, by various partners, particularly the governing body of the city concerned – in this case the ACT Government.

Main article, 'Designs on the future'

See related article:

Designs on the future – how Australia’s designed city has global plans
‘In many ways design is a central part of the vocabulary of our time and integrally related to so many powerful social and economic forces – creative industries, popular culture, the digital transformation of society. Design is often misunderstood or overlooked and it's universal vocabulary and pervasive nature is not widely understood, especially by government. In a rapidly changing world, there is a constant tussle between the local and the national (not to mention the international). This all comes together in the vision for the future that is Design Canberra, a celebration of all things design, with preparations well underway for a month long festival this year. The ultimate vision of Craft ACT for Canberra is to add another major annual event to Floriade, Enlighten and the Multicultural Festival, filling a gap between them and complementing them all’, Designs on the future – how Australia’s designed city has global plans.

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