The Creative Innovators Fellowship is a one-year program for managers of creative hubs in the Philippines organized by the British Council in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry
If you’ve been to the art spaces of Cubao X (Cubao Expo) or attended events such as 98B COLLABoratory’s Escolta Block Party in Manila and Pineapple Lab’s Fringe Manila in Makati, then you have a pretty good idea of what a creative hub or enterprise is.
The same is true if you’ve visited Kidlat Tahimik’s Ili-Likha Artists’ Village and the VOCAS Art Gallery (location of the famous Oh My Gulay restaurant) in Baguio City, the Crossroads lifestyle district in Cebu City or DreamWork co-working space in Davao City.
To many of us, these events and places are largely when and where some of the country’s most talented and pioneering artists gather to exhibit, perform or sell. Who would have thought these creative clusters or hubs also play a critical role in the Philippines’ drive to harness the so-called creative industries in a bid to create another pillar of economic growth?
Globally, the creative industries, including design, new media, publishing and visual arts, are one of the world economy’s most successful sectors. From 2000 to 2010, creative industries grew more than twice the service industries and more than four times manufacturing, a report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) revealed.
However, initial studies found that the Philippines has lagged behind in tapping the creative industries. Despite the country’s long history in music, performing arts, craft, design and film, it “has not been able to transform their products into sustainable domestic markets and exports which can earn revenue, create jobs and contribute substantially to the economy,” according to a report prepared by a consultant of the British Council, the UK government’s cultural arm, in May 2017.
One of the factors behind the country’s under-developed creative economy is what another British Council-commissioned study calls the low level of clustering and lack of strategic integration of creative industries with broader development planning.
“The creative industries is a sector that thrives through co-location and strong physical and digital networks,” said the report prepared by the Ateneo Art Gallery dated September 2017. “Yet, in the Philippines, clusters are relatively weak and the sector lacks density. This is an impediment to growth because without high density clusters of activity, the sector lacks visibility and opportunities for exchange and trade are limited.”
Nicholas Thomas, country director of the British Council in the Philippines, at the launch event of the Creative Innovators Fellowship
To help develop such clusters for the creative industries in the Philippines, the British Council has partnered with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to launch the Creative Innovators Fellowship, a one-year program for managers of creative hubs in the Philippines.
The program aims to serve as an avenue for hub managers to build stronger organizations, better support the creative industries and create more inclusive communities and cities. Involving only 15 fellows, the pilot edition of the fellowship will run from August 2018 to October 2019. The deadline for application is on July 8.
The program is aimed at groups that have been operating for one to five years, or older hubs that are looking to revamp their organizations. These hubs include either of two types. First are creative hubs such as design studios, makerspaces, co-working spaces, fab labs, artist-run spaces with activities for product and professional development, etc. Second are enterprises in various fields such as communication design, product design, applied arts, music, film, communication, architecture, fashion, game, industrial, urban planning, systems, etc.
More information on the creative innovators fellowship is available here.
“The creative innovators program will help build the next generation of creative community leaders in the Philippines through one-year fellowship for creative hub managers. It includes mentorships, trainings, grants and networking opportunities in the Philippines, ASEAN and also the UK,” said Nicholas Thomas, British Council country director in the Philippines at the launch of the program on June 8.
He added: “Creative hubs everywhere in the world are under-supported and under-appreciated and creative hub managers lack the necessary skills and knowledge to sustain their hub commercially and to communicate their value to society. The creative innovators program aims to tackle this challenge.”
The fellowship comes as the Philippine government as well as the private sector are moving to align and coordinate programs to ramp up the development of the creative industries. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the DTI as well as the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) have established the new Creative Industries Board/Task Group. The aim is to tap the potential of creative industries for economic growth, productivity, innovation and competitiveness. The Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce has also included creative industries as one of the “seven big industry winners” that would accelerate growth and investments in the country in the medium term.
The British Council, one of the global organizations that did pioneering research on the role of creative hubs in reinvigorating cities and communities, said: “Creative hubs have been popping up across the country and the globe in the last 20 years and have fast become a protective and nurturing infrastructure for creative practitioners and organizations.”
It also detailed exactly how creative hubs help artists, many of whom work as freelancers or owners of micro businesses.
“Being part of a hub makes freelancers and micro SMEs feel part of a larger picture, without it necessarily meaning that they have to be part of an organization,” the British Council said, summarizing one of its studies. “Freelancers and micro SMEs, who would normally work from home, are able to connect, collaborate and share with other like-minded people. Being part of a community increases freelancers' confidence, experimentation, collaboration and growth. Together they can pitch for work, access resources and tools, inspire one another and attract investment as a collective of disciplines.”
Roel Landingin is the editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur PH