As more Asian nations achieve higher development benchmarks, the creative industries are growing rapidly. Former economic drivers such as manufacturing are ceding ground to other industries, paving the way for more diverse, knowledge-based economies.

Norwich University illustration studio

Pic: Norwich University illustration studio.

In this atmosphere of innovation, exploration and cultural expression, an increasing number of Asian students are looking to careers in the creative industries. This is a broad field, indeed, covering everything from fine arts and performance to graphic design and 3D animation. Possible careers are practically innumerable.

Asian art in particular is a global sensation. Christie’s in New York City says that Asian art is a top-three revenue generator for the art auction house. In March of 2013, Christie’s staged its annual ‘Spring Asian Art Week’ and brought in a grand total of more than US$80 million in four days. Needless to say, this is a good time to be an Asian artist.

University of KwaZulu-Natal PMB

Pic: University of KwaZulu-Natal PMB.

However, the surge in creativity seen across Asia is doing more than attracting collectors and filling the coffers of auction houses. The creative industries are also playing a powerful role in bolstering national economies and developing international trade networks.

The importance of the creative industries
In the course of international dialogue, the creative industries are often treated by the diehard empirical sciences camp as being superfluous or as exerting a negligible influence on economic development. However, dig a bit deeper, and you’ll find that expert analysts, government agencies and international NGOs hold a very different viewpoint.

UniversityOfBoltonArt

Art on display at the University of Bolton's annual Creative Degree Show. Pic: University of Bolton.

According to UNESCO, the creative industries have become increasingly important to post-industrial, knowledge-based economies. And a UNESCO report entitled “Understanding Creative Industries: Cultural statistics for public-policy making” states:

Not only are [the creative industries] thought to account for higher than average growth and job creation, they are also vehicles of cultural identity that play an important role in fostering cultural diversity.

Going back a few years, former Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs in Japan, Itsunori Onodera, delivered a speech in which he highlighted the important role that the creative industries and cultural expression play in international exchange and the development of solidarity:

[C]ulture as a matter of course nurtures a soundness and wealth of spirit, but given that it also encourages creative industry and supports economic vitality, it is an area that is the key for the future prosperity of Asia and also in terms of making a contribution to the world. Secondly, in addition to cultural exchange among Asian countries cultivating a mutual awareness of the diversity that exists in the region and engendering respect at the national level, it also, by encouraging feelings of oneness among different peoples, leads to an important basis for the promotion of regional cooperation in the future of Asia in a variety of areas.

Students at UCA

Pic: Students at UCA.

Cast in this light, the creative industries are set to play a pivotal role in Asia’s economic future. For example, with the pending emergence of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, cultural bridges are going to play an enhanced role in developing solidarity between member nations. In this sense, the creative industries not only create jobs and strengthen economies; they also provide the glue that holds together trade alliances and transnational policy. In so many words, the creative industries are indispensible to 21st-century development – both in Asia and abroad.

Leading creative industries programs
For Asian students seeking a degree in the creative industries, many of the leading university candidates are based in the West. The strongest contenders boast cutting-edge facilities backed with stellar after-graduation employment statistics.

The following are among the leading creative industries programs for Asian students:

UNIVERSITY OF THE CREATIVE ARTS
The University of the Creative Arts (UCA) has been in operation through its founding colleges for more than a century a half. In its current state, the university has existed from 2005, since which time it has graduated some the world’s most highly acclaimed creative minds. The alumni list includes celebrity fashion designers, Oscar-winning filmmakers and Turner Prize Nominees. Read the full profile here…

DUNCAN OF JORDANSTONE COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD) is one of the leading art and design schools in the UK, and it has been operation in one form or another for 125 years. World-class facilities and teaching staff combine to create one of the most worthwhile art-student experiences in the Scotland. In fact, in a recent survey, DJCAD students ranked their art school as first in the UK. Read the full profile here…

DJCAD Degree Show

Pic: Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design.

THE UNIVERSITY OF KWAZULU-NATAL, SCHOOL OF APPLIED HUMAN SCIENCES
The School of Applied Human Sciences was recently formed at the University of Kwazulu-Natal (UKZN) through a merger of existing programmes in Media and Society; Social Work; Criminology; and Communication, Media and Society. As imagined, a merger of this magnitude has created a dynamic and intensely interdisciplinary school that sees experts from disparate fields cooperating on everything from research to curriculum development. Read the full profile here…

NORWICH UNIVERSITY OF THE ARTS
Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) is coming off a great year in 2012, when it was ranked by the Guardian University Guide as the top specialist institute in the field of art, design and media. Backed with this calibre of recognition, there is no question that this is a leading contender for international students of the creative arts from anywhere on the planet. Read the full profile here…

THE UNIVERSITY OF BOLTON, SCHOOL OF ARTS, MEDIA AND EDUCATION
Rapid development and the introduction of new flagship courses make Bolton an exciting place to be enrolled. Over the past few years, millions of pounds worth of investment have produced new, cutting-edge facilities, with plans for more on the way. The university is also well-networked with schools abroad, including academic institutes in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka. Read the full profile here…

UNIVERSITY OF WEST VIRGINIA – COLLEGE OF CREATIVE ARTS
The College of Creative Arts emphases art, music and theatre and dance. State-of-the-art facilities in the Creative Arts Center and world-renown faculty make this one of the leading places to explore the creative industries in the US. In fact, the U.S. News & World Report has ranked the CCA as the best place to earn an MFA in the US.

EDITH COWAN – FACULTY OF EDUCATION AND ARTS
Located in Perth, Edith Cowan University is a relatively young university that has soared up through international rankings in recent years. According to Times Higher Education, this is one of the world’s top 100 universities under 50 years old.