Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City should develop industries involving the creative arts and culture, suggested UNESCO experts at a seminar in Hanoi July 18.
The seminar, which focused on developing new financial mechanisms and legal frameworks for the cultural industries in Vietnam, came as part of a UNESCO effort to promote and encourage investment in cultural industries, including movies, music, fashion, and the performing arts.
Policy makers, researchers, culturists, cultural managers and two UNESCO researchers, William Codjo from Benin and Dr. Tom Fleming from England, participated in the one-day event.
"Cultural industries are well-developed in some Asian countries, [but] it entirely stops in Vietnam," said Fleming. "If the situation is maintained, Vietnam would lose the market [to other countries] in five or ten years."
The researcher, who is an adviser and strategist on cultural policy, first came to Vietnam in April to research cultural management and implement UNESCO's convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions in the country.
Hoi An, for instance, Fleming said, is the most developed locality in Vietnam in terms of the traditional culture trade, but most souvenir shops in the town offer monotonous products that do not meet the various needs of tourists.
In addition to suggesting administrative procedures be simplified to encourage investment and financing, the UNESCO experts also recommend that Vietnam establish "creative cities" to stimulate new approaches and business strategies in cultural industries.
Like special economic zones, a "creative city" consists of several cultural industrial parks specializing in arts, traditional culture, and crafts, said promotional material about the seminar.
Thanks to special policies in investment and planning, such cities have great potential to develop together as well as provide human resources and spur consumption, according to the promotional material.
Unlike Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Singapore, there is no such model in Vietnam, UNESCO argues.
Recently, Los Angeles-based Galileo Investment Group proposed investing $11.4 billion to build a "creative city" along the Ba River in the central province of Phu Yen, however, the province has withdrawn the investment license after the company failed to implement its plans on schedule.
The concept of "˜Creative Cities' is based on the belief that culture can play an important role in urban renewal, according to UNESCO.
UNESCO believes that as creative industries contribute to a city's social fabric, cultural diversity and enhance the quality of life, it also strengthens a sense of community and helps define a shared identity.
The concept was introduced by urbanist Charles Landry in the late 1980s and has since become a global movement reflecting a new planning paradigm for cities and promoted by UNESCO together with the organization's Creative Cities Network, according to promotional material from the event.
The Creative Cities Network connects cities who want to share experiences, ideas and best practices for cultural, social and economic development, according to the promotional material.