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Creative hubs: Supporting folk in the creative, cultural and tech sectors

SOURCE: Dan Sandoval/Xinhua News Agency/AFP-Services
Image from the 1905 Re-creative space, founded on the workshop of the original Shenyang heavy machinery factory, in Shenyang, China.


By U2B Staff 

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Here’s some welcome news for creative and enterprising folk in Malaysia – the British Council, Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) and Universiti Malaya’s Cultural Centre have launched the Hubs for Good programme, in addition to an online platform, to enhance the role that creative hubs play as key drivers and catalysts in transforming communities and cities in Malaysia. 

The Hubs for Good programme, which will run over a period of three years, aims to support Malaysian hubs by creating awareness, building capacity and connecting the creative sector. 

According to the press release, the programme “connects Malaysian creative hubs and hub leaders with each other and to various local stakeholders, who remain largely unaware of the positive impact creative hubs have on communities”. 

It adds that it creates and provides dynamic, informative and research-based resources that can advance the professional development of hub leaders and managers, which will allow them to better support hundreds of creative practitioners in Malaysia. 

It will also involve interrelated projects including country-wide mapping and research, a toolkit for the use of hub leaders and creative practitioners, a digital platform and capacity building activities to address skill and knowledge needs of local creative hub leaders. 

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What are creative hubs? 

For those unfamiliar with the term, hubs are physical or virtual places which bring creative people together. 

They provide space and support for networking, business development, and community engagement within the creative, cultural and tech sectors, said the British Council, who has been working with over 800 hubs globally since 2014. 

No hub is alike as its model can be determined by factors such as geographic placement, cultural context, community requirements and unique funding model. 

“There is estimated to be 1.2 million people working from creative hubs globally (deskmag), generally made up of micro SMEs and freelancers, which represent 85% of global employment and 3.3 million people in the UK (2015),” said the British Council.

Sarah Deverall, Director Malaysia, British Council said they play an integral role in the growth of the creative economy, gathering and representing creative communities. 

“We see hub managers as gateways and connectors, between public and private, grassroots and policy. We also see them as important leaders in the creative economy,” said Deverall in the press statement. 

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A meteoric rise?

According to the British Council’s The Creative Hubs Report: 2016, hubs are fast becoming a worldwide phenomenon. 

“Most cities in the UK now host a thriving number of creative hubs. They have become a new way of organising creative economy innovation and development,” they said, adding that not all hubs are the same. 

“They are often embedded in particular cultural contexts, they support specialised creative practices and develop their own value systems.”

These hubs offer creative micro businesses the chance to aggregate with others in order to access crucial resources such as tools, specialist services, or inspiration to help develop projects and businesses, said the report. 

“Hubs represent a collective approach to coping with uncertain social, cultural and economic environments and processes of creativity and innovation,” it said.

Their research shows that hubs can produce a wide range of impacts including start-up ventures, jobs, new products and services, future investment (public and commercial), talent development, regional talent retention, informal education and engagement, training, urban regeneration, research and development, new networks, innovative models of organisation, quality of life enhancements and resilience.