Towards a 'New Equilibrium': The Economics and Politics of the Creative Industries in Singapore

Terence Lee

Abstract


On 26 September 2002, as Singapore faced up to its worst economic year since attaining full political independence in 1965, the Creative Industries Working Group (CIWG) of the Economic Review Committee (ERC), a governmentappointed, high-level body tasked with identifying future economic growth sectors and opportunities for Singapore, unveiled its report entitled Creative Industries Development Strategy: Propelling Singapore's Creative Economy (CIWG, 2002). This was the first time the voguish concept of the 'creative industries' had been publicly acknowledged and embraced in Singapore. It is believed that the development of a 'creative cluster' – or a creative network comprising the arts and cultural sector, the design sector and the media industry – would propel Singapore's new innovation-driven economy by 'industrializing' the cultural (and culture-related) sectors in Singapore. Among other envisaged outcomes, this policy aims to encourage risk-taking and entrepreneurship and to attract creative 'talents' to locate in Singapore. Whilst the notion of the 'creative industries' has been objectively modelled after global trends and policies, its application in a society notorious for its censorious political and cultural climate is fraught with problems. This article offers a critical examination of this new creative industries policy direction spearheaded by the Singapore government, and considers the economics and politics of creativity in what is being presented as the 'new' Singapore of the twenty-first century.

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Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies - ISSN: 1395-4199

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