Visitors to Hanoi's Cantonese Assembly Hall on Hang Buom Street are astounded to find a creative space inside the historic building.
The house is an architectural gem in Hanoi's Old Quarter for a confluence of Vietnamese, Chinese, and French cultural traits.
In recent years, it has become a venue for exhibitions, workshops, and seminars - a meeting place for artists and the public. As a testament to the splendor of the former Thang Long Imperial Citadel, it has been chosen as the main venue for this year's Photo Hanoi Biennale (April 21-June 3).
Capitalizing on its vital creative resources and the country's largest pool of creative spaces, Hanoi has planned to bring them together in a network.
Hanoi - a haven for innovative cultural spaces
Hanoi is a creative epicenter with the largest array of creative cultural spaces in the country. Their potential lies in their ability to foster community connections, inspire creativity, and enhance the attractiveness of urban areas steeped in traditional values. The community benefits from creative spaces through spiritual enrichment, job creation, and support for sustainable development goals.
|Visitors at an exhibition of Photo Hanoi'23 Biennale. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times|
Hanoi joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network for Design in 2019. Since then, it has focused on developing cultural industries, building a creative city, and fulfilling its commitments to UNESCO. This has been achieved through the various policies and numerous creative events that the city has put in place.
Hanoi's creative spaces, now numbering 124, operate in various fields such as design, music, publishing, and cinema, and are run by both public and private organizations. Creative spaces come in many different types, such as museums, libraries, art spaces, galleries, cultural centers, educational centers, coffee shops, and co-working spaces.
Phan Dang Son, Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Architects, has stated that despite the great potential of Hanoi's historical and cultural heritage, the extent to which this potential has been realized is still not commensurate.
The Cantonese Assembly Hall at 22 Hang Buom, Hanoi, now houses a creative space inside. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times
A creative space development program, Son said, is essential to Hanoi's tourism industry and promises to enhance its appeal and glamour.
According to Phan Dang Son, it will also give the next generation a chance to showcase their ingenuity and blossom, playing a crucial role in boosting the perception of Vietnamese people and culture worldwide.
A network of creative spaces in Hanoi
Acting Chief Representative of UN-HABITAT in Vietnam, Jonghyu Nam, said he wanted to work with Hanoi to classify and evaluate creative spaces, aiming to create a sustainable creative network.
To create a network of creative spaces in Hanoi, the Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports has been collecting feedback from regulators on the criteria for classifying and evaluating these spaces.
Do Dinh Hong, Director of the Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports, said that the set of criteria is expected to help preserve and enrich innovative areas and make the capital's public and tourists appreciate local cultural values.
Creative spaces that meet the set of criteria to join the Hanoi Creative Space Network will receive a membership certificate and will be entitled to tax incentives according to regulations.
At the same time, the members' activities will be promoted on the official information website system of Hanoi Creative City.
Nguyen Thu Ha, Director of VICAS, says the criteria are too bureaucratic. She has emphasized that the network of cultural and creative spaces should operate with a spirit of volunteerism and minimize administrative procedures.
It is worth noting that a number of different creative spaces have explicitly expressed their interest in supporting the networking of cultural and creative spaces and have asked for additional support, from funding to promotion, all based on the unique strengths of each space.
Do Dinh Hong emphasized the importance of creating a framework of standards to classify and evaluate Hanoi's cultural and creative spaces, which will serve as a basis for identifying creative centers and connecting the Hanoi Creative Hub Network with global and domestic creative spaces. In his proposal, he suggested that the set of criteria, once promulgated, would support the development of creative spaces.
The Creative Cities Network, established by UNESCO, currently includes 295 cities in 90 member countries, all dedicated to promoting global cooperation by focusing on creativity in urban planning. This represents a valuable resource and commitment to realizing Hanoi's goals for cultural industry growth.