BUILD­ING THE CRE­ATIVE CLASS

As Hong Kong busi­nesses search for ways to en­hance their prod­ucts and ser­vices, the cre­ative class will have more im­por­tance than ever be­fore.

The Peak (Hong Kong) - - Feature • Perspective - PAULA WAL­LACE

In the won­drously di­verse city of Hong Kong, a new or­der of art and de­sign flour­ishes amidst a global call­ing for cre­ative prac­ti­tion­ers. In Asia’s World City, 40,500 cul­tural and cre­ative in­dus­tries ac­count for ap­prox­i­mately HK$110 bil­lion, or five per cent, of Hong Kong’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct. Rec­og­nized as a gate­way to the East for in­ter­na­tional brands, the city af­firms its po­si­tion as a global hub of cre­ativ­ity and in­no­va­tion. It boasts a pros­per­ing art scene with top-tier gal­leries, one of the largest art auc­tion mar­kets in the world, and ma­jor art fairs that in­clude Art Basel and Art Cen­tral, which en­hance the city’s pres­tige.

The world is catch­ing up as cre­ative fields merge with ev­ery mar­ket sec­tor to meet the de­mand for in­no­va­tive thought. The Martin Pros­per­ity In­sti­tute, in a 2011 re­port, re­ferred to the Cre­ative Class as “a group of in­di­vid­u­als em­ployed in jobs where they ap­ply cre­ative prob­lem-solv­ing skills. Their work is not lim­ited to gen­er­at­ing new ideas — it also re­quires act­ing on new in­ven­tions and tech­nol­ogy to pro­duce new goods and ser­vices.” What pro­fes­sion or busi­ness does not re­quire prob­lem-solv­ing, or the de­vel­op­ment of new goods and ser­vices? Cre­ativ­ity is a trade­mark that tran­scends a job ti­tle and be­comes a way of life.

The per­me­able na­ture of all en­ter­prises de­mands a di­verse work­force armed with an abun­dance of ca­pac­i­ties. To­day we ob­serve the rapid emer­gence of new tech­nolo­gies in UX, 3-D, wear­ables, virtual and aug­mented re­al­ity, and more — all of which re­quire de­sign think­ing, tech­ni­cal knowl­edge and re­search that are nur­tured and re­fined by cre­ative ed­u­ca­tion. One must un­der­stand user ex­pe­ri­ence, for ex­am­ple, to con­ceive the in­ter­faces that bridge real and virtual worlds.

Trends show that ca­reers in visual me­dia will sky­rocket on a global level. A whitepa­per by Cisco fore­casts rapid growth in on­line video de­mand, pre­dict­ing that mo­bile data traf­fic will in­crease at three times the rate of fixed IP traf­fic by 2019. On­line video serves the needs of the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try and has also be­come in­te­gral to the recre­ational and mar­ket­ing pur­poses of busi­nesses in fash­ion, game de­sign, and more. Think Poké­mon Go, ap­plied to life in gen­eral.

Cre­ative uni­ver­si­ties and Hong Kong meet at the cross­roads of pro­fes­sional cre­ative thought and global de­mand. A 2014 For­rester Con­sult­ing sur­vey of 324 global de­ci­sion mak­ers notes that “82 per cent of com­pa­nies be­lieve there is a strong con­nec­tion be­tween cre­ativ­ity and de­sired busi­ness re­sults.” Fur­ther, “cre­ative com­pa­nies en­joy a greater mar­ket share by a fac­tor of 1.5 com­pared to their less cre­ative coun­ter­parts.” Suc­cess­ful, for­ward-think­ing busi­nesses value cre­ative minds. Art and de­sign alumni con­trib­ute their ed­u­ca­tion and skills to in­dus­try lead­ers in­clud­ing IBM, Gulfstream Aero­space, Proc­ter & Gam­ble, Ap­ple, and Mi­crosoft.

In or­der to de­velop an ed­u­ca­tion into a pro­fes­sion, stu­dents need ex­po­sure to men­tors, in­dus­try ex­perts and ed­u­ca­tors who nur­ture emerg­ing knowl­edge and skills. An ed­u­ca­tion that in­te­grates real-world in­tern­ships and col­lab­o­ra­tive part­ner­ships al­lows stu­dents to gain au­then­tic ca­reer prac­tice. Stu­dents need en­vi­ron­ments that em­brace the foun­da­tional tenets of visual arts, sci­ences and hu­man­i­ties. Along with trail­blaz­ing tech­nolo­gies that em­pha­sise in­dus­try cur­rency and en­cour­age in­ven­tion, stu­dents also re­quire ac­cess to over­seas op­por­tu­ni­ties. An in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion teaches global thought, pro­vides bound­less in­spi­ra­tion, and broad­ens hori­zons. Th­ese are the ex­pe­ri­ences that foster ex­plo­ration and in­ge­nu­ity, and th­ese are the ca­reer foun­da­tions that fuel suc­cess for cre­ative in­dus­tries on a global scale.

The bedrock of cre­ative thought be­gins early, when stu­dents are pro­vided an en­cour­ag­ing, van­guard en­vi­ron­ment in which to build cre­ative pro­fi­cien­cies and to un­der­stand their ap­pli­ca­tion in the work­place

As the world in­creas­ingly looks to Asia for new ideas, busi­ness in­no­va­tion, and eco­nomic growth, Hong Kong stands at the fore­front to ful­fill the global de­mand for cre­ative con­tent and cap­i­tal.

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