How do you create an authentic culture hub?

Many cities try to build an area with a network of streets that offers cultural products that gives a higher appreciation of cultural life.  In China, the city government try to do this by building a whole new area with new shops and invite outsiders and foreigners with good taste to set up, hoping this new immigrant ladies and gentlemen will transform the style of the street of the region. Some amount of foreign element will add variety and interest, learning from  many examples around the world; it is important to bear in mind the following:

1, The primary market for this cultural street/streets are locals. Tourists are only attracted to these areas because it is already frequented by locals, and tourists like to see through the offerings of merchandize and activities; the kind of life and lifestyle the locals practised.

2. The offerings must be popular with a majority of young people, hence the operators must also be young people, showing off their skills and wares in a variety of interesting ways.

3. Food and Beverage, bars and cafes, at reasonable prices are key to success. There must also be some really authentic restaurants selling local ware or some really popular foreign offerings already popular with the locals, offering “comfort food” to make up the critical mass of business.

I have said that THERE IS NO NEED TO BUILD ARTIFICIAL THEME PARKS, just allow the cities to develop in its organic way; allow people to show off their ideas of a good life; that way it becomes an authentic organic theme park. In Theme Parks, activities and events need to be organized, but in real cities and towns, there is no need to organize these artificial events as the people live their lives, the many personal, family, community events and festivals made up the activities.

( In Culture Is Good Business, I predicted that the Disneyland in Hongkong will not do well as Hongkong already has a character of itself and does not need an infusion of foreign culture to help put it on the map; Hongkong is already on the map. The “artificial” culture brought by Disney is hard to sustain its spark and interests with local visitors ( and Hongkong only has a population of 7million).  Disneyland Hongkong did not take off as wished by the Hongkong government, attendance figures falling short of initial targets and th park’s performance has been sluggish.)Examples of culture hubs:

1. Korea: Insadong

2. Shanghai: Tianzifang. ( Tianzifang has a middle class and young people flavour versus nearby Xintindi’s luxurious upmarket feel. As both are new additions to Shanghai’s leisure landscape, it is interesting to watch they develop and how welll they do commercially. )

3. Istanbul: Grand Bazaar, a review on youtube

4. China:  Yangshou West Street, Kwangxi Province

5. China: Lijiang Old town Square Street, Yunnan Province,

6. Barcelona:  Montcada street area with the Picaso Museum in the center and the La Rambla.

Published by Global Hanyu

The leading provider of Mandarin and Study China programs

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