Potentials for developing “creative cities”
Update: Jan 10, 2022
With potential for development in the fields of music, literature, and folk art, many Vietnamese cities have been meeting all conditions to join UNESCO's Creative Cities Network. However, this requires the initiative and determination of the authorities at all levels and appropriate policies based on the actual situation and potential of each city.

The Da Lat Flower Festival has become the tourism brand of the Central Highlands city. 

Cities in Vietnam not only carry the common identity of the regions, but also have their own characteristics and potential strengths, so that they can both promote themselves as creative cities and develop economically.

Ho Chi Minh City has the advantage to develop its film industry, meanwhile Hue city has strengths in handicrafts, folk art and festivals. Hoi An ancient town and cities of Da Nang, Ha Long, Vung Tau and Da Lat all have their own strengths in the fields of music, literature, and design.

In the seven areas UNESCO considers for registration of the Creative Cities Network, Da Lat city (Lam Dong) has great potential in terms of music, literature and fine arts.

The city is nearly 130 years old, with typical European architecture, peaceful space and romantic landscapes, that is a source of creative inspiration for writers and artists. With a favourable geographic location, synchronously invested infrastructure and suitable for creative activities, Da Lat is very convenient to form music composition centres and art creation camps. In fact, in Da Lat, there are composition camps which attract writers and artists.

This is also a city with a tradition of music composition, where many lyrical songs with romantic and sweet melodies were born. It brings a space to nurture artists' souls and inspire artists to create many valuable works. The city is also a regular venue for musical events and attractive cultural events, such as the Da Lat Flower Festival and Tea Culture Festival. Currently, this place has formed many creative communities and attractive art and performance spaces, gathering many artists operating in the fields of art, bringing contemporary art closer to the public, as well as creating conditions for the community to directly participate in the creative process.

It can be seen that from the space, culture, people and music all blend together, creating its own vitality of this foggy city. If you choose the field of music to develop Da Lat as a creative music city, it will create a cultural city with a separate and unique identity of Vietnam.

Having the same advantage of traffic, just over 100 kilometres from Hanoi, Ha Long city (Quang Ninh) has the potential for music and the development of visual art spaces. With a favourable geographical position and natural environment, the city has preserved many long-standing cultural values with rich natural heritages. This city is also known as a dynamic, modern coastal city with a variety of art forms. The city develops many entertainment areas, performing arts centres, and regularly organises creative art exhibitions, creating a highlight for the urban space and attracting visitors. Ha Long converges factors to develop a creative city in the field of visual arts as well as the music industry in the future.

Creative Cities are not just a brand, but by joining UNESCO's Creative Cities Network, cities have affirmed to put culture and creativity at the centre of development and the key to urban development planning.

Currently, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network has 246 cities, including about 10 cities in Southeast Asia.

Hanoi became a member of the network in October 2019, as a creative city in the field of design and is currently the only city in Vietnam to participate in this network. Since joining the network, Hanoi has focused on developing the cultural industry and increasing investment in culture, raising the bar for the fields of creative design, creating a new impulse and image for the capital. The city has implemented many undertakings and policies to raise awareness of the importance of creativity as well as cultural diversity expression in the sustainable development of the locality. With the advantage of concentrating intangible and tangible cultural heritages and natural heritages, Hanoi continues to exploit and promote resources to create cultural spaces and creative communities, expanding opportunities for creators, contributing to promoting the capital's cultural values and develop the capital into a major cultural centre of the country.

That is the story of the development of big cities, central hubs such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, but there are also many opinions that Vietnam should orient to build innovative cities from mid-range or smaller cities.

Sharing this view, musician Nguyen Quoc Trung said: Choosing which outstanding fields to develop in big cities is often complicated because all industries are developing, which can create conflicts between the fields. Therefore, choosing small cities to build creative cities will have more favourable factors.

It is necessary to recognise the advantages and creative directions for the city because it is related to future development. In addition to convenient transportation and creative development support, management agencies need strategies and support to inspire artists.

Looking at the advantages and potentials of mid-range and smaller cities such as Da Lat, Ha Long and many others, current values such as tourism, music, and literature are all interesting suggestions for developing creative cities throughout Vietnam.

The choice of which category to participate in depends on the existing status and potential of the cities, but it is necessary to have specific policies for development, helping cities to integrate and develop sustainably. Choosing an outstanding field, resonating, linking, and integrating other fields such as theatre, folk performing arts, cinema, and music will contribute to honouring the creativity of a developed community in an urban city.

The initiative and determination of the locality will contribute to the positioning of culture and creativity in the city's sustainable development plan, making creativity the driving force for the sustainable development of the city. The core values of the creative city is both the pillar of the cultural industry and the creative economy, and the gathering and attraction of the creative class as well as the participation of the community, creating cultural products for the people.

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