Centre of creativity

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 July, 2012, 12:00am


There is a Chinese saying: 'Above is heaven, below is Hangzhou'. If Hangzhou is indeed heaven on earth, it's not only for its beautiful scenery, but also culture and creativity - and the city is becoming known as creative hub.

Hangzhou was included in Unesco's Creative Cities Network as a City of Crafts and Folk Art in April. The decision was made in recognition of its ability to place crafts at the core of its strategy to develop an environment conducive to the creative industry. This is in addition to nurturing traditional techniques, and its continued efforts to improve the industry by using the resources from the public and private sectors.

Unesco defines cultural and creative industries as those that combine the creation, production and commercialisation of content which is intangible and cultural in nature. Such content, either in goods or services, is typically protected by copyright. In China, the term is often broadly applied to include information services, such as e-commerce, digital TV and software companies.

Other segments include animation and games, design and services, modern media, arts and related education, training, leisure and exhibition services.

The listing is seen as a boost to Hangzhou's strategy to become the 'cultural and creative industry centre in China' by 2015, by generating awareness of the city and its business opportunities.

According to the Hangzhou Cultural and Creative Industry Management Office, which was set up in 2007, the city is poised to be a cultural and creative hub.

It has a history of more than 5,000 years, plenty of historical and cultural assets, and frequently ranks among the best cities in China for living in, with its beautiful natural environment and scenery.

The city also has access to an abundant supply of talent as more than half of Zhejiang's universities and higher institutions are located there. It also has access to a large market, being located in the heart of the thriving Yangtze River Delta area.

After several years' development, Hangzhou is already considered one of the major cultural and creative centres in the country.

According to a study on the competitiveness of cultural and creative industry conducted by Taiwan's Cultural and Creative Industry Association last year, Hangzhou ranked third among 36 cities on the mainland and Taiwan, after Shanghai and Beijing, but ahead of Shenzhen, Taipei and Suzhou.

Last year, the value added by Hangzhou's culture and creative industry totalled 84.33 billion yuan (HK$103.397 billion), up 14.3 per cent from 2010, or about 12 per cent of the city's GDP of 701.18 billion yuan. Information services was the largest segment, accounting for 23.5 per cent, followed by design services (14.3 per cent), and education and training (13.2 per cent).

The industry had assets of 383.716 billion yuan by the end of last year, up 12.5 per cent from 2010, with a workforce of 488,400.

Since 2007, Hangzhou has set up 16 cultural and creative industry parks and 24 buildings to form various clusters. Last year, it launched a 500 million yuan investment fund to invest in start-up companies.

The city has also taken measures to boost growth, such as helping start-up companies to raise capital from banks, or by allowing them to list in stock markets; organising festivals, fairs and activities; inviting personalities and overseas companies to set up in the city. Hangzhou has also encouraged universities and higher-educational institutions to set up postgraduate programmes.


Fast Facts 2011

GDP: 701.18 billion yuan

Per-capita GDP: US$12,380

Value added by service industry: 345.358 billion yuan

Fixed asset investment: 310.516 billion yuan

Foreign investment utilised: US$4.722 billion

Domestic investment utilised: US$72.057 billion

Foreign trade: US$63.97 billion

Exports: US$41.52 billion

Imports: US$22.45 billion

Tourism revenue: 119.1 billion yuan

Total visitors: 71.81 million