Contributed by Chuan Li
Eurasian Creaspace space Networking (ECN) organized its first session in Kunming China successfully during the third week of September 2016 (21st – 23rd September). Six European participants from the cultural and creative sectors, together with local managers, scholars and policy makers, took part in the three-day session with the intensive-programmed activities including two-day study visit to seven creative spaces and a full day workshop. Ambassador ZHANG Yan, the CEO of the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), and Ms. Fatima AVILA, the project executive of the culture department of the ASEF, joined the Kunming session as well.
ECN’s local coordinator the Cultural Development Institute of Yunnan University meticulously selected seven creative spaces located among five different creative districts in order to exhibit all European participants a vivid and panoramic cultural and creative atmosphere within two days in the city of Kunming.
Yunnan Nationalities Village is a theme park styled creative space to show lifestyle, architecture, religion and tradition, folk songs and dances of the 25 ethnic minorities who are living in Yunnan Province – a remote southwestern province of China. This village mixes cultural tourism and the conservation of the ethnic heritage, job creation and training ethnic minorities from rural villages, with the purpose of displaying the priority of local cultural plan to economic growth and employment.
The private Yunnan Puer Tea Museum and Ma Jia Da Yuan (literally, the Ma Courtyard) are located in the Kunming Old Street Neighbour. The museum, run by a local tea specialist with national prestige, is becoming a stronghold to exhibit, diffuse and distribute Puer provincial tea culture and products for local tea growers. The Ma Courtyard – a typical Yunnan Traditional architecture and private house of the first Mayor of Kunming – is transformed into a cultural hotspot by a successful local business woman to host cultural performances of local operas and dramas. Both spaces exhibit the possibility of the integration of the new urban renewal project and the revitalization of historical history and traditional artistic forms, which are originally embedded in the old neighbors and are disappearing with the modernization and urbanism in the Chines cities.
Suzao Loft and Zhu Ba Jie located in the Jingding 1919 Cultural Creative Space are two representatives of co-working spaces that are rapidly growing throughout China. Suzao is a traditional coworking place to show how complementary companies work together and benefit each other by sharing not only working places but also process innovation and business opportunities. Whilst Zhu Ba Jie is a new business model of co-working space to offer full-life-cycle incubation to Small and Mirco Enterprises, particularly focusing on the distribution phase by matching supply and demand of creative goods and services through its O2O online platform.
Shicui space built in the department store of downtown is an ethnic cultural creative operation platform, which establishes a collaborative partnership between the marketing of the creative company and R&D of traditional ethnic handcrafts from rural communities, and finally contributes to the inheritance and conservation of ethnic intangible heritage, revenue growth, and identity of local communities.
Yunnan is a typical Chinese western province embracing 25 ethnic minorities and enjoying rich ethnic cultural resources, and most of the creative activities are based on the protection, development, and utilization of local intangible heritage and ethnic handicrafts, and therefore, its creative spaces usually serve such kind of creativity and activities.
Although these creative spaces are local, the creative practices and experience may be global. Professor LI Yan, director of Cultural Development Institute of Yunnan University said that Chinese creative spaces originally resulted from the imitation of similar spaces from Germany, Japan, and Taiwan region, and gradually form its own characteristic, which might benefit its European counterparts.
All European participants showed their surprises that the development of Chinese creative spaces was out of their imagination and even beyond European’s reach. Many of them expressed a strong willingness to collaborating with local spaces and managers in the study visit.
Ambassador ZHANG Yan, the CEO of the ASEF, had a very positive opinion of the Kunming session and gave his strong support of the sustainability of Eurasin Creaspace Networking.
In addition, the project also digitalized all creative spaces in the study visit by means of interviews and virtual reality (VR) technology, sponsored by Mr. Bernard Custard, the founder of Bernardcustard Comunicación Visual. These digitalized documents, together with other project outputs, will be available to all audience in this website soon.