News & events > Cities: Living Labs For Culture? - 8th ASEF Public Forum I REPORT
25 Sep 2015

Cities: Living Labs For Culture? - 8th ASEF Public Forum I REPORT




Are cities becoming dynamic new labs where arts and culture flourish? This question is at the heart of the Cities: Living Labs for Culture?-  8th ASEF Public Forum on Creative Cities in Asia and Europe, held on 24 November 2015 at the Asia Culture Center in Gwangju, Korea.

The report of the Forum is now available for download here.

Key messages include the need for increased ownership by local communities, and for cultural leaders to develop a greater appreciation of other sectors (business, health, etc.). The introduction of formal programmes to re-invigorate mid-career cultural leaders was also encouraged, as well as the creation of spaces for self-reflection and assumption-testing.

Speakers include Fionnuala CROKE, Director, Chester Beatty Library; Catherine CULLEN, Chair United Cities and Local Governments’ (UCLG) Committee on Culture; Mark DUNHILL, Dean, School of Arts, Central Saint Martins College of Arts; Arundhati GHOSH, Director, India Foundation for the Arts; HONG Kiwon, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Cultural Policy and Industry, Sookmyung Women's University; Yusaku IMAMURA, Director, Tokyo Wonder Site; Dwinita LARASATI, Head of Creative Economy Committee, City of Bandung, Hanna JEDRAS, Chief Expert, Responsible for European Capital of Culture 2016 Wroclaw, Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Poland; KIM Sungkyum (Deputy Director, International Cultural Affair Division, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Republic of Korea); KIM Yoonkyung, Support Specialist, Google Cultural Institute; Yasmine OSTENDORF, Author, Creative Responses to Sustainability (Korea Guide); Phloeun PRIM, Executive Director, Cambodian Living Arts; RYU Jae-Han, Chairperson of Executive Committee, Asia Culture Forum; Susanna SEIDL-FOX, Program Director, Culture and the Arts, Salzburg Global Seminar; Joe SIDEK, Artistic Director, Georgetown Festival; and Karsten XUEREB, Executive Director, Valletta 2018 Foundation.

More details about the Public Forum can be found on

Cities of today are becoming vibrant spaces for experimentation, a process in which culture has come to occupy a central place. “Creative cities” and “capitals of culture” that have emerged across Asia and Europe attest to growing importance of these dynamic new centres of arts and creativity. Cities are also emerging as epicentres for effective policymaking, as they are often able to act quickly and offer more integrated responses. As Charles LANDRY, the well-known authority on the use of imagination and creativity in urban change, has argued in ASEF publication Enabling Crossovers: Good Practices in Creative Industries (2014, ASEF): “Cities are laboratories to tackle difficult solutions. They have the critical mass to scale up new technologies.” In this context, the 8th ASEF Public Forum will debate whether cities in Asia and Europe are indeed evolving into living labs for culture.

The topic of creative cities is of particular relevance for the bi-regional dialogue between Asia and Europe, and is high on the cultural agenda of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). The Forum in Gwangju marked the launch of Cities: Living Labs for Culture? – Case Studies from Asia and Europe, a compilation of essays and 27 case studies. Creative Responses to Sustainability (Korea Guide), which maps cultural initiatives across the country engaging with social and environmental issues, has also been presented at the Forum. Both publications are available for free download on ASEF's arts and culture portal, and on the ASEF website

Gwangju Metropolitan City offers itself as the perfect backdrop for this Forum, considering its role as the Hub City of Asian Culture, the home of the new Asia Culture Center and a newly-designated city of media arts in UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. The Hub City of Asian Culture, the single largest cultural project in the history of the country, aims to establish a platform in Gwangju for cultural exchange among Asian countries. The Asia Culture Center, the main facility of Gwangju as the Hub City of Asian Culture, is constructed on and around the site of the former Office of Jeollanamdo Province, a historically important area in this city known for its spirit of democracy, human rights and peace.

The 8th ASEF Public Forum is part of a long-running dialogue series on cultural policy issues of common interest and mutual relevance for Asia and Europe. The 9th ASEF Public Forum will be held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (July 2016). Past forums have taken place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (20102014), Hanoi, Viet Nam (2013),  Yangon, Myanmar (2013), Yogyakarta, Indonesia (2012), Melbourne, Australia (2011) and Seoul, Korea (2011).

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Download the report of the 8th ASEF Public Forum 8th ASEF Public Forum Report