Networking for communicating, mutual understanding and further cooperation | Conclusive reflection of the Valencia workshop

Contributed by Chuan Li, photography by Joan Sanchis 

On October 26, 2016, Wednesday, the workshop of Eurasian Creaspace Networking got Eurasian cultural managers together, with the presence of the representatives of Spanish Ministry of Foreign affairs and Asia – Europe Foundation in the Applied Economics Department of the University of Valencia.  This workshop is more than a roundtable discussion among cultural practitioners and instead, it could be seen as an exploratory interaction among cultural practitioners, scholars and policymakers between Asia and Europe. 

The workshop started with the introduction of the evolution of Spanish diplomatic policies by Mr. Emilio de Miguel Calabia, the sub-director of General Branch of Pacific, Southeastern Asia and Philippines of Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Collaboration, as well as the brief introduction of the Asia-Europe Foundation by Ms. Valentina Riccardi, project manager of Culture Department of the same organization.  


Ying Wang gives a brief report about Kunming session 

Afterward, five Asian participants, who were selected by an open call this March, shared their experience of management of Asian creative spaces.  

Saya Namikwa, project coordinator of ST SPOT, explained that how a 56m2 mini theater in the center of Yokohama survive in the cultural ecosystem and benefits the Japanese contemporary society through arts.  (download PDF)

Anik Wijayanti, founder and director of Ethnictro, told a story how a grass root organization located in Yogyakarta – a creative center of Indonesia – grew up from a start-up organization to a formal institution for musical education. (download PDF)

Vagaram Choudhary, project head of Sowing Seed, exhibited the possibility of artist residency project as an alternative art space to create deeper understanding between arts and rural community in India. (download PDF)

Wawi Navarroza, founder of Thousandfold, depicted the birth, maintenance, and death of artist-run photographic space in Manila Philippines and implied the weak survival of individual creative spaces without financial support.  (download PDF)

Hutch Wilco, director and curator of Cospace, proposed a dilemma about the conflict of economic benefits and social goals in the private art and cultural organizations like art galleries in China. (download PDF)

European cultural actors also shared precious knowledge and experience in the management of local creative spaces. Sergi Alimiñana, founder of PICUV, introduced the Urban Platform for Cultural Initiatives, which integrates information and resources of popular Street festivals for marketing and promotion in Valencia. Raul Abeledo, the director of EU Project in Econcult of the University of Valencia, offered some practical guides of funding strategies for creative spaces. (download PDF)

In consequence, some conclusive reflections are summed up as follows.

More actions should be taken to strengthen the cultural relationship between Asia and Europe at the government level. The conventional relationship between Europe and Asia concentrated on the political and economic fields and the cultural exchange was ignored, which hindered the mutual understanding between Asian and European people. Mr. Emilio de Miguel Calabia, the sub-director of General Branch of Pacific, Southeastern Asia and Philippines of Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Collaboration, pointed out that intergovernmental relationship should be a comprehensive relationship including not only politics and economy but also cultural exchange, and Spanish government has issued new law for promoting comprehensive relationship with Asian countries.

Creative spaces need aim on social changes. Small spaces are usually embedded in the “big” environment. Many cases show that creative spaces are social agents to connect arts, community, and society where they are located. The success of the creative spaces is reliant on its social goals – tackling social changes and meeting social needs through social innovation. This, in turn, helps creative spaces to access to funding and support from the communities. 

Reputation is more important than money for small creative spaces. Many creative spaces are non-profit organizations. Although money matters in the small creative spaces, they seldom see money as the first place; instead, many cultural managers place the priority on a reputation of organizations because the reputation of organizations usually represents the value that they uphold and the trust that they gain from the audience.

Space managers have pluralistic demands. Many small and medium size creative spaces are artist-run and personality-driven, this means that many cultural professionals have multiple identities: they might be both artists, who pursue personal artistic achievement, and space managers, who seek organizational missions as a whole. The divergence of individual demands and organizational goals constitutes a potential obstacle to the operation of creative spaces. 

It is urgent to strengthen the capacity building of space managers both theoretically and practically. Many space managers have the strong willingness to the capacity building through expertise training and peer learning; some necessary measures can be taken to tackle this challenge, such as creative training, seminars, learning by doing and the publication of handbook.

Continuous communication and networking can be the first step to inter-continental collaboration among Eurasian creative spaces. The lack of understanding between Asian and European people is a major obstacle to hinder the further collaboration among Asian and European creative spaces, and this problem cannot be solved in a short time. A feasible solution to eliminating misunderstanding and deepening mutual understanding of Asian and European people is to facilitate a continuous communication and networking among cultural professionals through an effective platform like Eurasian Creaspace Networking on the purpose of facilitating the inter-continental collaboration in future.  


Saya Namikwa


Anik Wijayanti


Vagaram Choudhary


Hutch Wilco


Wawi Navarroza