The Dutch Creative Industries in China
For several years already, the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Chinese Ministry of Culture have pledged to work together and have formalized their collaboration in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
In the MoU of 2014–2017 the emphasis was placed on the creative industries as one of three major focus areas. Similarly, in the area of film production, a co-production treaty was signed between China and the Netherlands in 2015.
One of the ways that this pledge has taken shape is through the annual participation of the Netherlands in the Beijing Design Week (BJDW). The BJDW is a Chinese national large-scale annual cultural event held in Beijing, which is co-organised by the Chinese Ministry of Culture, and the Beijing Municipal Government. Since 2011, the Netherlands has been present annually through the participation of many Dutch designers and high-quality design exhibitions. In 2013 Amsterdam was the guest city of the BJDW. More recently, in 2016 the Sanlitun light festival showcased a unique selection of Dutch light designs from the Amsterdam Light Festival.
Within the creative industries in China, the Netherlands has especially focused on the area of sustainable urbanization. This subject is one of the major areas in which the Netherlands profiles itself internationally. Due to its age-old fight against encroaching water, the Netherlands has had to organize and structure its spatial planning. This has led to a unique environment where new ideas in the area of urban planning have flourished.
The focus on this topic in China can be seen in the Dutch presence at the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB) taking place every other year in Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Highlights have included the guest-curatorship of the biennale in 2013 by Ole Bouman, architecture critic and former director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute, whom presented a vision for the sustainable regeneration of heritage buildings. More recently the participation included special projects by Dutch designers and urban planners such as the Social City project by Droog Design in 2015.
Other exemplary projects and collaborations in the urban planning sector include the Dutch International New Town institute advising local Shenzhen governments of Da Lang and Guangming New Town on the urban planning of new towns, drawing from lessons in other areas of the world. They specifically look at how to engage local stakeholders and the local existing population in the planning process. Dutch planning firms are also active in China; an example is KCAP who have worked on many planning commissions and competitions throughout China ranging from projects in Shanghai to Beijing to Shenzhen.
In all, Chinese-Dutch creative collaborations are increasingly taking place throughout China and are proving to be very effective in the way that the outcome brings together the best of both worlds, creating unique and innovative results. These results could have never come about without collaboration.