Creative hubs are key drivers of the creative economy, acting as catalysts for creative entrepreneurs and artists to advance their professional path. A creative hub is the point of convergence between the creator and the community, giving both the platform to interact, build a relationship and cultivate a community that is capable of sustaining the arts and creatives.
Creative hubs - whether physical, virtual or transient - also bring creatives together, giving them the space and platform to exchange ideas, network and collaborate. They have access to funding and investment opportunities that are beyond the reach of creatives, and thus provide a channel for which creatives can access the funds and investments through working collaborations and partnerships. Most creative hubs are very unique as they are generally embedded in the context of the local community, such as South East Asia which is ripe with opportunity with its growing GDP and booming Creative Industry .
However, despite the growth experienced prior to 2020, the devastating impact of COVID-19 pandemic did not spare the creative economy. According to UNESCO’s report, 10 million jobs were lost in 2020 in the culture sector with an estimated loss of revenue between 20% to 40%.1 As the world slowly recovers from the pandemic and the rebuilding of economies take place, so must that of the creative economy and creative hubs.
This is where UK-SEA Creative Hubs Connect (UK-SEA CHC) comes in. Initiated by the British Council in partnership with Mereka Connect and Baltic Creative CIC, the programme supports creative hubs across Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Viet Nam and the UK. It offers UK and South East Asian creative hub communities an opportunity to come together to connect, exchange, collaborate and form a lasting network, as well as grow their audience across the two regions.
The ability of the businesses within the creative industry including creative hubs to generate value from their ideas by working collaboratively with other sectors both domestically and internationally is a crucial success factor. Creative hubs enable creative businesses to accomplish these facets by providing opportunities for education and skill development as well as access to finance and new markets.
Yet, in order to achieve this, massive resources are needed. With limited resources further hampered by the pandemic, many creative hubs have been struggling to reach out to the larger audience outside their community, foster working collaborations, access funding opportunities, and fully adopt digitalisation. What the UK-SEA CHC offers to creative hubs besides the access to a wider network is an integrated booking management system for event booking and space rental powered by Mereka Connect. This feature of the platform empowers the growth of creative hubs’ businesses, allowing them to conduct their business online with minimal to no resources.
The platform also functions as a repository for a vast selection of creative economy resources such as funding opportunities, a library of open source research reports and toolkits, and links to helpful digital tools and solutions which support the operations and management of creative hubs.
By facilitating access to networking, collaboration and growth in terms of audience, opportunities and business, the UK-SEA CHC programme aims to bring creative hubs together to drive the development of the creative economy sustainably.
1 Culture in times of COVID-19: resilience, recovery and revival. Retrieved from https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000381524.locale=en