Crisscrossings: Creative Convergence 2018 formally kicked off last January 12, 2018 at ECCP MATIC with a series of discussions with resource speakers who offered perspectives on creativity and the the creative economy in the Philippines, the Asian region, and worldwide.
It’s all about connection and collaboration, according to Kae Batiquin, co-convenor of Create Cebu, spark starter, art enabler, and the organizer of Crisscrossings. “In Create Cebu, we are the spoke in that we try to connect people. We’ve got people who are so into production. We have people who are so into consumption and participation.
We like to connect these people. We like to talk to each other. Because sometimes, content marketers need content. Sometimes, people who have wonderful content just need the right vehicle,” she said.
Create Cebu is out to show that creativity is a viable economic growth driver. Batiquin cited a WIPO study which showed the contribution of the creative industry to employment and gross domestic product. “If we play our cards right, if we know where to plant our feet, if we know where to invest our time, and who to invest our time with, magkakwarta na siguro yung drawing-drawing ‘no (you can make money out of drawing),” she stressed.
Creative Economy and Creative Cities
adobo magazine Founder, President, and Editor-in-Chief and Creative Economy Council of the Philippines (CECP) co-founder Angel Guerrero echoed Batiquin’s call for strengthening the creative industries not just in Cebu but in the whole country. She also gave a perspective on the creative economies of different countries and regions around the world.
Countries like the United Kingdom, which pioneered mapping, measuring, and growing the creative economy, South Korea, Japan, and even China have all developed cohesive national strategies for their creative industries. The Southeast Asian region does not fall behind their Asian counterparts. The CECP, which Guerrero represents, works with private stakeholders and the government through the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to develop a roadmap for the country’s creative economy.
Late last year, the Philippines finally appeared on the UNESCO Creative Cities map with the institutionalization of Baguio City as a Creative City. The CECP in coordination with the DTI worked on the ASEAN Creative Cities Forum to educate local governments on developing creative hubs and cities. The organization also helped Baguio City to make their application to become a UNESCO Creative City.
Guerrero urged the group to take advantage of and collaborate with the CECP as well as the national government to grow Cebu’s creative economy. “What you do here at Crisscrossings is parallel with what’s happening in the world. I think it just needs a mouthpiece. You need to market what you do,” she said.
“The ASEAN Creative Cities Forum was held just last May, and the deadline for submission was already in October. Baguio City applied and now we have the first Philippine Creative City. I don’t see a reason why Cebu can’t make it to the UNESCO Creative Cities map,” Guerrero stressed.
Another staunch partner in creative economy development is the British Council Philippines. The organization works with different groups in the country especially those in the creative industries in developing and managing projects, educating and consulting, and brokering partnerships between Filipinos and their British counterparts.
Malaya Del Rosario, Head of Arts and Creative Industries of the British Council Philippines, pushed for more collaboration and inclusiveness in growing the creative economy. “Do we want just a creative city, or do we want an inclusive creative city? Do we focus on being competitive, or do we want to be collaborative? Is it about being at the top, or is it about working together to achieve the same things? Is it about mutuality? This is the role of the British Council is to strengthen cultural relations between the UK and the rest of the world,” she said.
Yet, the creative industries in the Philippines face a harsh reality. The numbers and actual experience tell a different story, said Butch Carungay, President of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Materials Innovation Center (ECCP MATIC) and himself a designer.
“In the last 16 years, the Philippines has achieved fairly robust growth but sadly that has been fuelled by imports and not from local production. When you look at imports of these categories (furniture, fashion jewelry, ceramics, baskets, art), you’ll see the numbers from our competitors have actually gone up significantly,” he said.
Carungay also said that Filipino design is not as strong today. “Design now is so democratized. It is not the asset it once was. Filipino designers are good in information but they are not good in application. They know what’s good and what’s not good, but they won’t know how to make it. They don’t have the background and the technology to realize what they want to make,” he stressed.
Other challenges that the industry faces are logistics as the Philippines is an archipelago which makes it harder and more costly to transport goods, erratic government support and policies which do not translate into implementation, capacity and low investment in mechanization and infrastructure, and non-compliance with world standards by many companies.
However, by recognizing these challenges and collaborating to develop the strengths of the creative industry in the Philippines, stakeholders can take steps to grow the creative economy.
Over the next few days, Crisscrossings will feature Cebuano products and services from the creative sector, conduct talks and workshops to develop creative skills, and showcase Cebuano creative talent and creative entrepreneurship. By bridging art, creativity, and industry, the event hopes to encourage the growth of the creative economy in Cebu.