Cebu urged to inspire other cities to join creative economy

GETTING the recognition from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) to become a creative city of design will not only bring in economic benefits but it also spells “a big responsibility” for Cebu.

Dr. Shahbaz Khan, Unesco’s representative for the Philippines, said if Cebu gets the global recognition, it means it stands to inspire other cities in the creative network.

“It (the recognition) brings a lot of responsibilities for Cebu,” he said in a press conference Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, on the sidelines of the International Conference on Cultural Statistics and Creative Economy in Cebu City.

Marichu Tellano, deputy executive director at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), said the Unesco badge will potentially help Cebu boost its creative economy.

“It will give impetus to local investors in the industry,” she said.

Khan noted he has “no doubts” of Cebu getting the creative recognition for as long as it satisfies all the criteria set by Unesco.

Cebu’s winning the bid means it will have to work to ensure the development of its creative sector and inspire other cities in the Philippines and in the region.

Cebu has sought the Unesco classification as a creative city under the design category, the highest designation among the seven categories.

Member cities of Unesco’s Creative Cities Network (UCCN) represent seven creative fields, including design, film, literature, media arts, gastronomy, crafts and folk art and music.

“This is something Cebu can take pride on,” Tellano said.

Becoming Unesco’s creative network will give Cebu the opportunity to exchange resources and ideas with other globally recognized creative hubs, she said.

“Cebu has its unique value for design,” Tellano said, citing Cebu’s edge in the furniture design.

She said NCCA seeks to push more cities in the Philippines to also aim for such recognition.

Currently, only Baguio City is recognized by Unesco as a creative city for crafts and folk art.

The creative community in Cebu is anticipating Unesco’s decision on the city’s bid before the year ends.

By joining the UCCN, cities worldwide commit to place culture and creativity at the core of their sustainable development strategies, policies and initiatives.

The UCCN was created in 2004 to strengthen cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable development.

Becoming a Unesco creative city also provides a city with strategic opportunities to stimulate and innovate local policies towards creativity and strengthen its international outreach.

Whether or not Cebu gets the Unesco designation this year or in the next round in 2021, the bid team agreed to pursue the creative sector’s action plan, which includes expanding its contribution to the local economy.

Cebu’s creative industry still needs to do a lot of work, especially in terms of infrastructure to bring out its greatest potential.

Cebu’s creative sector currently accounts for US$550 million, making up about six percent of the city’s economy.


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