Cebu Design Week to push Cebu as global creative hub

AVENUE. The upcoming Tropical Futures Forum aims to gather all creative stakeholders in Cebu to raise awareness on how creativity can make cities better. From left are Ma. Elena Arbon of DTI 7, Chris John Fuusner of Tropical Futures Institute and Mark Deutsch of Happy Garaje. (Photo grabbed from Tropical Futures Forum fb page)

THE creative industry is looking to expand its contribution to Cebu’s economy as it stages the second Cebu Design Week (CDW) in September.

The CDW emerges as one of Cebu’s front-running events that will help it solidify its image in the design world as it bids for recognition from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) as a creative city.

At a press conference Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, Maria Booth, CWD event chair, said the upcoming week-long celebration of Cebu’s creative entrepreneurs is one of the industry’s commitments as it hopes to get the Unesco title.

She pointed out that Cebu has long cultivated a name in the design field, citing the annual Sinulog Festival as a clear manifestation of Cebu’s edge when it comes to creativity as shown in festival costumes and floats.

This time, they are also pushing for the CDW to become a vital element in Cebu’s push to be globally recognized as a creative hub, Booth said.

Cebu’s creative sector currently accounts for US$550 million, making up about six percent of the city’s economy. Over 1,300 companies are engaged in the sector, employing roughly 50,000 workers.

“Cebu has always been a very creative city. It has a trading port. It has been exposed to a lot of goods from Asia. It has good topography. So subjectively we’ve always been known as a creative city,” she said.

According to Booth, it was a challenge to accurately capture the exact contribution of the design sector in Cebu because it has not been isolated from other industries and are embedded in most sectors.

The creation of a database for the industry was one of the requirements for the Unesco bid.

In addition to the workers who are directly employed in the design ecosystem, more are engaged in the supply chain and service providers that fuel the design professionals.

To date, more than 57 professional associations and business support groups covering over 20 creative disciplines have been identified and mapped in Cebu.

Meanwhile, CDW organizers expect around 15,000 visitors to the event on Sept. 13 to 15 at IC3 Convention Center.

Spearheaded by the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation Inc., CDW aims to bridge the disparate creative fields and industries through events that will feature designs, arts and culture. It is also a good opportunity for local designers to gather and collaborate.

Tropical Futures forum

As one of the events during the CDW, artists and designers are set to gather in Cebu on Sept. 13 for the Tropical Futures Forum to boost networking among industry players.

“Most of it is about people’s work that has a lot of do-it-yourself spirit,” said Mark Deutsch, organizer and speaker for the forum, in a press interview on Wednesday, Aug. 21.

Ma. Elena Arbon, assistant regional director of the Department of Trade and Industry, encouraged creative entrepreneurs, students and the academe to participate at the forum.

“Speakers from New York, Singapore, Manila, Tokyo and Cebu will talk about their creative projects that address education, small and medium business challenges, film, art and personal creative growth,” Arbon said.

The forum will also feature a film screening of the movie Kusama: Infinity from this year’s Design Festival, a portfolio review by Dan Matutina and Plus 63, and an all-women graphic design exhibit curated by graphic designer Dang Sering.

In the same interview, Chris John Fuusner, director of 856 Gallery and founder of Tropical Futures Institute (TFI), pointed out that Cebu has a lot of creative people but he cited the lack of appreciation of their work’s economic value.

He said awareness should be raised on the presence of spaces where creative people can work and collaborate.

Deutsch, creative director of Happy Garaje and founder of TFI, said the creative sector could also share their talents with the community. The upcoming forum aims to give artists and designers from all over the world an avenue where they can talk about how creativity and design can help make cities and communities better.


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