In 2023, two more Vietnamese cities joined UNESCO's Global Creative Cities Network, including Da Lat (in the central highlands province of Lam Dong) for music and Hoi An (in the central province of Quang Nam) for handicrafts and folk arts.

Sustainable development through unique characteristics

Da Lat and Hoi An are part of the project to develop a system of Vietnam Creative Cities under the UNESCO Global Creative Cities Network (UCCN), approved by the Prime Minister and implemented by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Da Lat became a member of the UNESCO Global Creative Cities Network on October 31, 2023, right on the celebration of the 130th anniversary of its foundation (1893-2023).

Dang Quang Tu, Chairman of the Da Lat City People's Committee, hoped that besides tourism, the potential of cultural industries, especially music, would play a key role in strengthening the city's international integration and sustainable urban development, thereby improving the quality of people's lives.

A concert in the Central Highlands city of Da Lat. Photo: May Lang Thang

According to Tu, the title of creative city is hard to get, but even harder to keep.

"We are committed to fostering community music, strengthening the network of music and art creative spaces, preserving and promoting traditional music.

The annual Central Highlands Gong Culture Festival and traditional art performances at public venues will be among Da Lat's steps to prove that the city lives up to its commitment when joining the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and its biennial Flower Music Festival.

Meanwhile, Hoi An's folk crafts and arts are outstanding strengths that are well preserved and effectively promoted, contributing to local socio-economic development. There are five traditional craft villages and nearly 50 handicrafts practiced around the city, such as carpentry, pottery, lantern making, tailoring, leather work, and others.

Hoi An's long-standing local customs, activities and beliefs have helped to inspire, shape and nurture the richness and diversity of many unique forms of art.

The art of bai choi (a traditional Vietnamese game combining folklore singing and picking from a deck of cards) was recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2017.

Vice Chairman of Hoi An City People's Committee Nguyen Van Lanh informed that almost everyone in Hoi An is involved in some folk arts and crafts activities.

The city's 658 small businesses and 1,710 business households engaged in handicrafts and folk arts employ about 4,000 workers who earn an average income of US$3,500-4,000 per year.

The city government is expanding its start-up program, encouraging young people to develop their skills and creativity, and calling for initiatives to support handicraft production, combining conservation, development and green innovation.

Creativity - at the heart of development

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was launched in 2004 to promote cooperation among cities that consider creativity a strategic element for sustainable development, with cultural industries at its core.

To date, the network includes 350 cities from more than 100 countries that are developing around creativity in seven areas: crafts and folk arts, design, cinema, cuisine, literature, media arts and music.

According to Nguyen Phuong Hoa, Director of the Department of International Cooperation (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism), with Hanoi, Da Lat and Hoi An as UNESCO Creative Cities, Vietnam's cultural and creative industries are expected to be further boosted.

The ancient city of Hoi An is home to many traditional crafts. (Photo: VNA)

New UNESCO Member Cities will fulfill their commitments as outlined in their accession documents and will work together with other members to promote policies that address global challenges such as climate change, inequality and the ongoing process of urbanization.

By joining the network, cities commit to sharing and creating the best conditions for practice and innovation, building a sense of responsibility, respecting intellectual property rights and developing cooperation between the public and private sectors and professional social organizations.

"This will contribute to enhancing the creation, production, distribution and dissemination of cultural activities; expanding opportunities for creators and professionals; improving access to and participation in cultural life, especially for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and individuals; and integrating culture and creativity into sustainable development plans," said Hoa.

Ambassador Le Thi Hong Van, Chief Representative of the Vietnamese Delegation to UNESCO, said Vietnam is one of the few countries to have two cities join the network at the same time in 2023.

This is an international recognition and appreciation of our country's efforts and commitment to promote creativity, develop cultural resources and create motivation for sustainable development of the community, locality and country, she said.

"Member cities will have the opportunity to learn from international experiences, while the country will have more opportunities to promote its country, people and culture to the world," Van said.

In 2022, the Department of International Cooperation and the National Institute of Culture and Arts (VICAS) drafted a project to develop a network of Vietnamese creative cities to participate in UNESCO's Global Creative Cities Network.

The project identifies a number of potential candidates, such as Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Da Nang, Ha Long, Hoi An, Da Lat and Vung Tau. Of these, Hoi An and Da Lat became members in 2023. According to the roadmap, every two years from now until 2030, a maximum of two Vietnamese cities will prepare and submit candidacy documents to join UNESCO's Global Network of Creative Cities.

Source: Hanoitimes