Member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network since 2010

10 Things to Know About Shanghai

Shanghai is situated at 31°14’ N and 121°29’ E, on the west coast of the Pacific Ocean and the east side of the Asia continent, and in the front end of the Yangtze River Delta. As it lies in the middle of the arc-shaped coastline of China, Shanghai enjoys convenient transportation, broad inner land and excellent geographical location as a good river and ocean port. Shanghai is a city that keeps on growing and prospering. It is now the largest commercial and financial center in China, and an important international port city in the Western Pacific region.

1. Cultural heritage in Shanghai

Shanghai is a city featured by its inclusive and open culture, which attracts elites all over the world, and integrates the soul of different cultures, while transfusing the achievements constantly to the inner land as a centre of incubator for new ideas and cultures, a perfect place for the development of creative industries.

The eastern and western civilizations meet here and form a unique historical and cultural landscape. The Bund, the most famous region of the urban landscape in Shanghai, is the well-protected historical heritage of the city. There stand 52 buildings of various styles, including the Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, classical, Renaissance, and mixture of Chinese and western styles, which have become the landmark buildings with the name of "architecture expo of different countries". The Shikumen building is a kind of unique residence in Shanghai that embodies the very economic form of space usage and the decoration style mixing the Chinese and western styles. It is considered as the representative of Shanghai residential buildings and a symbol of modern urban civilization.

By now, Shanghai has formed the modern city landscape represented by the Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai Museum, Shanghai Grand Theater, Shanghai Oriental Art Center, Yangshan Deep Water Port, and Shanghai International Expo Center.

2. Complete education and training system for creative talents

Over 2.9 million Shanghai citizens have received college level or higher education. Shanghai has developed a complete education system for creative talents, from the doctor, master and bachelor degree programs to vocational training and part-time training programs.

Shanghai has a complete service system for the talents in the creative industries. First, Shanghai has a large number of educational institutions on creativity and design with different categories, which play an important role in cultivating creative talents. There are 63 universities in Shanghai with the schools or majors on creativity and design. In 2008, 129 doctoral students and 497 master students majored in creative industries graduated from 6 universities, including Fudan University, Tongji University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Donghua University. And many more creative talents have graduated from other institutes. Besides, many enterprises, institutions and training centers have carried out a variety of creative training programs. For example, the Crystal Institution of Digital Education creates an annual revenue of more than 20 million yuan per year on training programs. Shanghai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau provides training for more than 80,000 professionals in creative industries each year. Second, Shanghai has launched a series of policies for the attraction and support of the talents, and has brought around 300,000 professionals to Shanghai in the recent years. Third, Shanghai has basically formed the human resource market system, including 683 human resource markets and intermediary service agencies in different levels and types.

3. Active creative design groups

Shanghai not only enjoys advantages in the training of creative design talents, but also has many intermediary service agencies, professional research centers and studios represented by the associations for design industry, which have provided sustainable driving force for the creative industries in Shanghai. For example, Shanghai Convention and Exhibition Industries Association, Shanghai Advertising Association, Shanghai Gem Trade Association, Shanghai Software Industry Association, Shanghai Industrial Design Association, and Shanghai Garment Trade Association. Giving full play to the roles of coordination, data-collecting, promotion and guidance, the various trade associations have organized a variety of products exhibitions, and the grading and consulting activities on design, with the purpose to promote the exchange and cooperation between China and other countries. These activities are constantly fostering the market for design to promote the entire design industry.

Besides the research and development centers of large international enterprises, Shanghai has also gathered a large number of studios for the national masters of creative design in China. The studios integrate various functions of creative design, scientific research, advisory services, training and guidance, and market directing, becoming the symbol of creative talents in Shanghai.

4. Funding in multiple channels by the government

Shanghai has active modern service industries and advanced manufacturing industries, and is promoting the creative industries with the theme of design. In 2009, the gross output of the creative industries in Shanghai reached 390 billion yuan, with the added value increasing by 17.6% to the previous year and 950,000 employees. The added value of R&D, design and creativity has increased by 23.6%, and the added value of architecture design has increased by 18.9%. Shanghai will further increase the capacity of the service and manufacturing industries, achieve higher degree of integration of culture, science and technology, and promote the sustainable growth of economy.

Shanghai has established the mechanism to support the development of original, innovative and experimental creative contents by the input from the public sector, private sector and the civil society. In the public sector, Shanghai has set up a series of funds related to the creative industries. In 2007, “Shanghai Service Industry Development Fund” was set up to support the creative enterprises and projects in the field of services. The “Digital Media Innovation Fund” and the “Special Fund for Digital Publication” also input millions of funding to bring a positive influence to the new field.

In the private sector, many creative enterprises in Shanghai have increased the input on the venture projects, which have helped the rapid growth. At the same time, many enterprises in the secondary and tertiary industries are entering the creative industries. In the construction of creative clusters in Shanghai, nearly 80% of the investors didn’t belong to the creative industries. For example, Shanghai Automobile Industry Corporation, which is listed among the top 500 in the world, get involved in the creative industries through its participation in the investment and operation of the creative clusters.

Regarding the investment, the creative enterprises and projects have become the favorable targets of various capitals and industry funds. Many creative enterprises have received the investment from international venture capitals, and have got listed in the overseas stock market, such as Shanda Interactive Entertainment Limited, Focus Media and Giant Interactive Group. Shanghai has established the first fund management company with the focus on the multimedia industry - Shanghai Multimedia Park Venture Capital (MPVC). Since its establishment in early 2006, MPVC has established five incubation bases, which have attracted many high-tech enterprises and a total capital of more than 1 billion yuan.

5. Working and operating mechanism for creative industries

Regarding to the operating mechanism of creative industries, Shanghai has formed a “trinity” operating mechanism with government guidance, market operation and intermediary services. That is: the government should mainly lead and guide the industry, and mobilize the capacity of the enterprises and market as the main factors. Meanwhile, various intermediary agencies are encouraged to participate in the creative industries. In the past two years, a number of civil intermediary agencies, investment institutions and research institutions have been established, such as Shanghai Creative Industry Center, Shanghai Creative Industries Association, Shanghai Creative Industry Investment Co., Shanghai Creative Design Center, Shanghai International Fashion Federation, and Shanghai Creative Industry Institute. With the advantages of flexible organization, multiple functions, wide connection and services, they have become an important force to speed up the development of creative industries in Shanghai in cooperation with the public sector, private sector and the society.

6. The largest creative clusters in the world

At present Shanghai is the city with the largest area of creative clusters in the world. It has become a unique feature and measure for the development of creative industries in Shanghai. About two-thirds of the creative clusters in Shanghai are built through the protection and creative regeneration of the old factory buildings and warehouses. By the end of 2009, Shanghai has established 80 creative clusters with a total construction area of nearly 2,687,100 square meters. They have received 6,110 creative enterprises from over 30 countries and regions, with more than 114,700 employees. Many creative clusters have achieved good brand awareness, such as the Bridge 8, Tianzifang, M50, Highstreet Loft, Red Town, 2577 Creative Garden, and Zhangjiang Cultural and Creative Industry Base.

7. International festivals and events

Shanghai has organized many festivals, exhibitions and events with good reputation, including the Shanghai International Creative Industry Week, Shanghai eArt Festival, Shanghai Design Biennale, Shanghai International Film Festival, China JOY, and Shanghai International Art Festival. They form an important platform for international cultural events in Shanghai, and show great influence on raising citizen participation and fostering public awareness on creativity and design.

8. Multi-layer media coverage

The numerous media play an important role in building the atmosphere for innovation and creativity. The SMG cultural channel broadcasts the first program on creativity and culture “Creative World”, which encourages the enthusiasm and enjoyment of the audience on creativity through the most up-to-date visuals and the most classical case studies. To attract a wider participation, the program also hosts a creativity competition every season. In the meanwhile, the fashion design show “Magic Tailors” co-sponsored by Dragon TV and SMG Channel Young has become a stage for the young designers to display their talents with good audience rating.

The traditional paper-based media also give a great deal of concern to the design industry and participate in the development with various efforts. For instance, "Shanghai Business Daily" and Shanghai Creative Industry Center jointly hold events like the "Creative Grand Ceremony" with high public participation. The professional magazines like "Art World" and "Great Design" also make their part in the universal access of creative design. In addition, the new media – design-focused websites, represented by “China Visual” and “Arting 365”, are growing as another channel for the dissemination of concepts and knowledge of design.

9. Complete cultural facilities and developed cultural market

Shanghai owns a relatively complete system of modern cultural facilities, such as Shanghai Museum, Shanghai Library, Shanghai Grand Theater, Shanghai Book City, Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai Oriental Art Center, Oriental Cinema World, Shanghai Circus World, Pudong Library, Pudong Exhibition Hall, Shanghai International Expo Center, Shanghai international Mart, etc. Shanghai Grand Theater has the most advanced equipment among theaters in China. Shanghai Oriental Art Center boasts the chamber music performance venue of the highest cost per unit area in China. The book holdings of Shanghai Library are second only to the National Library of China. Shanghai Changning Library applies the RFID identification system for borrowing and returning books automatically, which is the most advanced district-level public libraries in China. At present, a large number of cultural venues for the World Expo are also under construction in Shanghai, such as Shanghai World Expo Performing Arts Center.

10. Design everywhere

The design industry in Shanghai has a solid foundation and a full range of categories. It has integrated into other industries with multiple functions of attracting the talents and leading the trend of fashion. Shanghai is the birthplace of the design industry in China and in Asia, and many “firsts” in the filed of design in China were born in Shanghai, such as the first architecture company, the first printing company, the first design company, the first jewelry company, the first military shipyard, the first advertisement, the first cartoon…

The design industry in Shanghai provides various services for the manufacturing and service industries, in a far-reaching layout with multiple categories. The 10 major design categories are: industrial product design, architecture and planning design, fashion design, exhibition design, printing and packaging design, advertising design, software design, cartoon comics and game design, graphic design, and jewelry design. They exist everywhere in the industry, architecture, economy, city and life, functioning in every moment. The favorable structure ensures the growth of the design and R&D industry in Shanghai.

With the inclusive culture, the inherited tradition of design, the excellent incubator for creativity and the good environment for investment, Shanghai will be able to promote the development of creative industries in China, Asia and the world through bringing forward the energy and scale of creative economy.