Creativity… a driving force to help the Thai economy meet international standards
In the last 10 years, the Thailand Creative Design Center (TCDC) has become better known. Recently, the TCDS has been associated with the CEA as Im-hathai Kanjina, an expert in business development and innovation at CEA Chiang Mai, will explain.
Scale Up Creativity
“The TCDC (Thailand Creative and Design Center) was established as a center of learning and a resource for design and creativity to help the public access the knowledge required to have competitive advantage in world markets. The TCDC was later transformed into the Creative Economy Agency (Public Organization) under the Office of the Prime Minister. The CEA Chiang Mai’s mission is to foster, promote and support the creative economy in the northern region. Its priority is the development of human resources; that is to reskill and upskill those in the creative industry. Its second responsibility concerns the development of translational skills and the improvement of the quality of business and services. These were also the missions of the TCDC, but now that it has become the CEA, a third and new mission is to support communities in particular areas to become creative cities as part of the Thailand Creative District Network (TCDN). We create ecosystems for creative economic development in each area,” said Imhatai.
Imhathai talked about the expected goal: “We expect changes in outcomes by making both input and output more effective. For example, the former TCDC’s target group in Chiang Mai were mainly students and professionals. We have found that our regular visitors have become much younger than in previous years when they were mostly secondary school students. During the Covid-19 pandemic, families became regular visitors; parents brought their children to read art books in our library. We had to adjust the library rules accordingly.”
“The role of our library is to provide an accessible resource of knowledge. We have a vast collection of books, VDO’s, material samples for design ideas and production, license-purchased databases, both the WGSN design and GMID marketing databases, and books relating to market trends. We collaborate with other organizations, organizing government-funded outreach training sessions on how to use our databases. For small-sized business and young bands, we provide support information from macro to micro data to help entrepreneurs design their products and services. The CEA is more than a resource center since we can extend services as a creative business center.
“In transitioning to the CEA, team members have had to adapt to changes. Although we were used to working as a team at TCDC, we had to adjust to the new working approach of the CEA. We combine our strengths from TCDC’s experiences with the CEA’s mission to networking with local communities, especially in the creative zone, where we incorporate the expertise and accumulated knowledge gained from the TCDC. We connect creatives and communities, distribute knowledge through networking and help people in the community adapt using various methods. Deveoping the creative economy not only concerns working with local people and achieving expected economic growth. Creativity is the key factor that will turn what is already good into something better. This will include finding the right balance in quality of life and the environment. The northern region has a specific challenge as we are the first region in Thailand that is becoming an aging society. We are consequently creating work environments where people from different generations accept working with each other.
Few people have heard of the CEA regarding creativity and design. This is due to the TCDC’s continuing work and efforts on the Chiang Mai Design Week, which is held in early December each year. The event is widely known, not only among local people but also among many who are not in the field of creative design.
“Collaborations with local people have been increased in diverse ways. In the first three years after the center was established, we mainly focused on the Chiang Mai area. We wanted to connect and share design ideas with the large number of people in the craft industry in the area. However, in the last 3–4 years, we have extended our work into the food, art and music industries, pushing community area development projects forward, eventually leading to a ripple effect in the tourism Industry. Our involvement has expanded to other provinces in the region such as Phrae, Nan, Lampang, Lamphun, Chaing Rai and Payao,” said Imhatai.
The craft industry is the prime focus of the CEA since the region has a high potential for economic growth in terms of artisans, local wisdom and the diversity of raw materials. Developmental projects relating to crafts or handicrafts, meanwhile, have been ongoing for 17 years.
“We look for a driving force to create channels or markets with new business dimensions as well as a business scaleup by crossing over between industries and generations. We aim high regarding developing opportunities and new networks so that the region’s handicraft industry will be more efficient in the management of resources and techniques, and in the perceived value of craftwork in the international market. Young groups should have a chance to access authentic quality networks or marketing channels that offer high potentiality.”
“We really need support from people in the industry to help people understand what we are about and feel more comfortable working with us.”
Most creatives are free spirits working on a small scale. If policy makers or governmental agencies in the region can understand their limitations and initiate policies that accommodate their work and builds a supportive tax system, such people can evolve and develop, resulting in better cooperation between them and the CEA.
Community development projects need to consider many relevant factors. If key policy makers in each area share a common understanding that creativity brings opportunities for development in their areas, they will propel development projects.
More importantly, we hope that this will attract new investments so that the ecosystem can really move forward. Knowledge from other agencies working with the natural environment or sciences can also help support communities. Finally, consistent budgets need to be allocated and increased to enhance work performance in the region.
To learn more about the CEA, follow its news and updates on its website, visit the TCDC Chiang Mai facebook page and website and facebook page of Chiang Mai Design Week, or connect through network organizations to learn more about the CEA.
Creative Economy Agency (Public Organization)
Address: 1/1 Mueang Asamut Rd., T. Chang Moi, A.Mueang, Chiang Mai 50300
Tel : 052 080500
Website : www.cea.or.th
Website : www.chiangmaidesignweek.com
Facebook 2 : TCDCChiangMai
Facebook 3 : chiangmaidesignweek
Email: [email protected]