Exchange of branding Creative City experience between Hanoi and British cities

Hanoi has become the first city in Vietnam to release a resolution focused on the growth of the cultural industry, with a particular emphasis on fostering a creative city.

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Do Dinh Hong, Director of Hanoi’s Department of Culture and Sports, stated that Hanoi is actively implementing initiatives and organizing various activities and events after being designated a Creative City four years ago.

 Speakers share their experiences at the seminar. Photo: British Council Vietnam

Valuable experience

The international seminar “Hanoi Creative City – Brand Building and Resource Development” took place this week as part of the Hanoi Creative Design Festival 2023, from November 17 to 26. Hong mentioned that Hanoi is the first municipality in Vietnam to pass a resolution on the development of cultural industries.

Hong also mentioned that the revised draft of the Capital Law includes clauses regarding the progress of cultural industries and creative cities. These topics are also addressed in the General Plan for the Development of Hanoi Capital City until 2030, with a vision for 2050.

Hong stated, “Hanoi is progressively establishing the Creative City brand to fulfill its vision of becoming a center of creativity in Southeast Asia, particularly in the design field.”

Experts from the UK had the opportunity to share their experiences in building a Creative City brand with culture as a foundation for development. Through effective brand positioning methods, these experts have successfully attracted locals and tourists to their small cities, spreading their images worldwide.

 Donna McGowan, Director of the British Council in Vietnam, delivers the opening speech at the Seminar. Photo: British Council Vietnam

Chris McCreery, Cultural Development Manager at Belfast City Council, shared that their city has implemented three new strategies, putting creativity and people at the center of their development plans. These strategies include culture, tourism, and music. The music strategy aims to promote the local music industry and highlight Belfast’s UNESCO Creative City of Music brand, showcasing the city’s musical history and talent. 

Belfast focuses on various music genres, from classical, pop, rock, to jazz, including international, traditional, and indigenous music. The City of Belfast has also organized numerous development programs celebrating culture and creativity to raise awareness of its Creative City of Music identity.

Poppy Jarratt, Project Coordinator at UNESCO City of Design Dundee, also discussed Creative City branding. She emphasized that Dundee holds the Dundee Month of Design every May, which consists of design activities attracting the participation of design communities and local residents. Furthermore, the ‘Dundee – UNESCO Creative City of Design’ brand has been integrated into the V&A Dundee – Scotland’s Design Museum. This reaffirms Dundee’s ambition to position and celebrate design as a tool for community development, the economy, and the city’s image.

Mobilizing and developing resources

 An exhibition at the Hanoi Creative Design Festival. Photo: Huy Pham/ The Hanoi Times

Aside from discussing brand identity and positioning, the seminar also proposed methods for developing creative communities in urban areas. This aligns with the event’s goal of establishing effective links between creativity and action plans for identifying the values and uniqueness of the brand.

Architect Doan Ky Thanh highlighted the presence of creativity in all aspects of life. However, he argued that creative industries are currently limited to only 13 professions. Thanh believes that these professions should collaborate and create significant added value. Thus, Hanoi needs to develop an ecosystem that supports creative practices.

Creating sufficiently large spaces, such as hubs of various sizes, is crucial for the operation of the creative ecosystem. By providing specialized spaces, artists and creators will have more opportunities to cooperate and cultivate their creativity.

John Peto from Derry-Londonderry UK City of Culture emphasized the importance of nurturing creativity within society and utilizing that creativity for development. He stressed the significance of investing in creative skills and facilitating communication about these skills to unleash individuals’ creativity and transform ideas into reality. Local governments and administrations play a crucial role in this endeavor.

Visitors to Hang Dau Water Tower during the Hanoi Creative Design Festival. Photo: Huy Pham/ The Hanoi Times

Representatives from British Creative Cities and Hanoi creatives also discussed the need to create spaces for creative activities, as there is currently a lack of such spaces in British cities and Hanoi. In the short term, creatives can utilize old, unused shops by renovating them for work. In the long term, it is necessary to create sufficiently large spaces, potentially through repurposing former industrial factories or constructing new buildings.

McCreery acknowledged that the lack of space for creative industries is a problem in Belfast as well. Although vacant spaces are plentiful, their utilization requires planning. Short-term projects can be implemented in empty storefronts, while long-term plans should focus on creating permanent studios that can accommodate a larger number of creatives.

Donna McGowan, Director of British Council Vietnam, emphasized the crucial role and tremendous value of the creative economy. She considered the creative economy as an important choice for the new century. It connects society and tackles various current challenges. The success of the creative economy is one of the UK’s remarkable achievements.

Therefore, the British Council continuously supports creative industries through innovative and forward-thinking programs. McGowan also affirmed the British Council’s collaboration with Hanoi City to promote the recognition of the Creative City and develop the cultural industry. She expressed her hope that both parties will achieve their goals and missions, enabling Hanoi to elevate its aspiration of becoming a Creative City of Design.

The seminar, hosted by the Hanoi Municipal Department of Culture and Sports in collaboration with the British Council Vietnam, brought together experts to contribute their insights on how to maximize creative resources in the capital. The seminar not only updated attendees on Hanoi’s progress as a Creative City of Design but also analyzed urban development models that leverage cultural identity and national heritage from the United Kingdom.