Wen Wen

Distinguished Professor John Hartley, Associate Professor Michael Keane
Queensland University of Technology

Wen Wen is the recipient of China Scholarship Council-QUT Joint Scholarship. She holds a Masters degree in Enterprise Management from China University of Geosciences (Wuhan). Her fields of interest include: creative industries theories, creativity and management, urban planning and cultural geography.

Thesis Title: 
Scenes, Quarters and Clusters: New Experiments in the Formation and Governance of Creative Places in China

The thesis examines the formation and governance patterns of the social and spatial concentration of creative people and creative business in cities. It develops a typology for creative places, adding the terms ‘scene’ and ‘quarter’ to that of ‘clusters’, to fill in the literature gap of partial emphasis on ‘creative clusters’ model as an organising mechanism for regional and urban policy. In this framework, a cluster is the gathering of firms with a core focus on economic benefits; a quarter is the urban milieu usually driven by a growth coalition consisting of local government, real estate agents and residential communities; and a scene is the spontaneous assembly of artists, performers and fans with distinct cultural forms. The framework is applied to China, specifically to Hangzhou, a second-tier city in central eastern China which is ambitious to become a ‘national cultural and creative industries centre’. The thesis selects three cases, namely Ideal & Silian 166 Creative Industries Park, White-horse Lake Eco-creative City and LOFT49 Creative Industries Park to represent scene, quarter and cluster respectively. Drawing on in-depth interviews with initiators, managers and creative professionals of these places together with extensive documentary analysis, the thesis investigates the composition of actors, characteristics of the locality and the diversity of activities. The findings illustrate that in China planning and government intervention is the key to the governance of creative space; spontaneous development processes exist but these need a more tolerant environment, a greater diversity of cultural forms and more time to develop. Moreover, the main business development model is still real-estate based: this model needs to incorporate more mature business models and an enhanced IP protection system. The thesis makes a contribution to literature on economic and cultural geography, urban planning and creative industries theory. It advocates greater attention to self-management, collaborative governance mechanisms and business strategies for scenes, quarters and clusters. As intersections exist in the terms, a mixed toolkit of the three models is required to advance the creative city discourse in China.