Creative milieu in China – ‘disjuncture’ in the global cultural economy

Authored by: Justin O’Connor , Xin Gu

Routledge Handbook of Cultural and Creative Industries in Asia

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138959927
eBook ISBN: 9781315660509
Adobe ISBN:


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In this chapter we examine the idea of the ‘creative cluster’, one of China’s key policy models for promoting both the creative city and cultural-creative industries. We do so with a particular focus on Shanghai, and on a well-known art cluster in that city, M50. While the Chinese creative cluster could be presented in fairly instrumental ‘policy transfer’ terms, it came as part of a wider ‘creativity’ agenda closely linked to a normative account of the relationship between liberal democratic governance and a new round of creativity-led innovation. More particularly, it comes associated with notions of the ‘creative milieu’ that have rarely taken hold in Chinese creative clusters. M50, however, is one case where we can clearly identify such a milieu. Our account here charts the trajectory of M50 from bottom-up organic cluster to one closely integrated into Shanghai’s culture-creative industry system. However, we want to avoid the standard characterization of a top-down, state-led use and abuse of creativity for the purpose of real estate development or gentrification (though this is often the case) and suggest other dynamics at work.

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