Creating New Urban Landscapes in Asia
Chapter 7: Cultural creativity, clustering and the state in Beijing
While the preceding chapters focused on state-vaunted cultural monuments, the next five chapters turn the gaze to ‘bottom-up’ initiatives that demonstrate the cultural life of each of the cities. The focus is on organically evolved cultural clusters, which, nevertheless, often attract the attention of city governments, resulting in transformations of various kinds and degrees – for better, but often for worse. In this chapter, we begin our analysis with the capital of China, Beijing. We highlighted in Chapter 2 how the Beijing municipal government, as part of its effort to build Beijing into a global city, has been actively engaged in the creation of cultural space since the latter part of the 1990s. This strategic, government-sponsored development of cultural space comprises the construction of infrastructure, the industrialization of culture and the building of a market system. The state’s discourse, which underpins its strategic intervention, highlights its preference for a model of cultural industry development based on spatial agglomeration. Another aspect of this discourse emphasizes how the development of creative culture is key to the success of the state’s project. As a result, unlike other Chinese cities that attach importance to the development of cultural industry, Beijing puts a premium on the development of creative culture.
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