Inaugural Asia-Pacific Creative Cities Conference sets sights on the future

AAR AFCT 40 Years34 cities from 15 countries, including 20 from the Asia-Pacific UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) have taken part in the first Asia-Pacific Creative Cities Conference, at Adelaide Festival Centre, operator of the Adelaide UNESCO City of Music Office.

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network was created in 2004 to promote cooperation among cities that have identified creativity as essential to sustainable urban development. The network of 180 cities covers seven creative fields: Design, Literature, Music, Film, Crafts and Folk Arts, Media Arts and Gastronomy.

Organised by Adelaide Festival Centre, the event gathered for the first-time world-leading thinkers, creative practitioners and city and government officials to discuss indigenous arts, language and culture, sustainable development, entrepreneurship, bilateral partnership and tourism and marketing.

Adelaide was designated as a City of Music in 2015 and is Australia’s first and only City of Music. Other Australian UNESCO Creative Cities are Sydney (Film), Melbourne (Literature) and Geelong (Design).

UNESCO Creative Cities represented at the inaugural conference came from Australia, Japan, Macau, New Zealand, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Korea, India, China and Singapore, together with some other cities aspiring to join the UNESCO family.

Industry leaders, creative artists, mayors and government officials participated in robust discussions, explored new ways of building on their Creative City status and enjoyed performances by some of South Australia’s finest musicians.

Delegates discussed how to bolster creativity as a core skill throughout all industries and how healthy development of partnerships in the region promote economic development. Global issues of diversity and inclusion in the policies and strategies of the creative industries were shared.

The pressing need to celebrate and reclaim Indigenous languages of the Asia-Pacific was a subject of debate, focussing on the ways in which decisions about Aboriginal and Indigenous communities are taken and voicing a common aspiration to increase use of Indigenous languages in public spaces and publications.

The Asia-Pacific Creative Cities Conference took place alongside Adelaide Festival Centre’s OzAsia Festival, a perfect showcase of the innovation and creativity of the Asia-Pacific region.

Adelaide Festival Centre CEO & Artistic Director and conference host Douglas Gautier AM was thrilled with the turnout and hopes the conference continues. “Hosting the very first Asia-Pacific Creative Cities Conference was a real honour and I hope the success of this event means it continues for many more years to come. The event has delivered wonderful opportunities for creative cities to build truly meaningful international relationships,” said Mr Gautier.

Delegates encouraged the UNESCO headquarters to embrace the initiative and help with the expertise and resources to build the network’s impact and underpin Creative Cities worldwide.

A 2015 EY report (Cultural times: The first global map of cultural and creative industries) found the Asia-Pacific region has the largest cultural and creative industries market and consumer base in the world, generating US $743 billion in revenues and 12.7 million jobs – or 43 per cent – of the cultural and creative industries jobs worldwide.

The conference concluded with a session to gauge the appetite for future similar meetings in the region. There was overwhelming support for the initiative to continue as an annual gathering and several cities across Asia-Pacific expressed interest in hosting a conference in future years.

A committee of members has been established to bring together interested cities to determine locations and the issues to be discussed in the coming years. For more information about Adelaide: UNESCO City of Music, visit: for details.

Image: Adelaide Festival Centre (supplied)