How Creative Hubs Contribute to Creative Cities

There are at least several hundred creative hubs in Malaysia, virtual and physical, comprising online Facebook groups, to studios and makerspaces, including craft workshops such as The Craft Crowd. Photo courtesy Alina Koo of thecraftcrowd.


Creative Hubs have been around for much of the last century. Within the last ten years they have become a fast growing ecosystem across the globe – whether they’re makerspaces, art galleries or multi-disciplinary performance spaces. Meanwhile, many cities are recognising how creative hubs are important to the sustainability and growth of the creative economy, and the creative city.


The British Council is a big champion of the creative economy, and recently produced a report mapping Creative Hubs in Malaysia, one of many on creative hubs in cities all over the world. They also held a Creative Hubs forum for the region.

We catch up with GREY YEOH, Head of the Arts & Creative Industries at British Council Malaysia at the Zhongshan Building, one of KL’s thriving creative hubs, to discover key lessons from the creative hub mapping report, as well as the forum.

Listen to the conversation with Grey Yeoh, Head of the Arts & Creative Industries, British Council, Malaysia where he defines creative hubs, tells us how they function and why they’re significant. He also highlights the main themes from the British Council’s Creative Hubs Report Malaysia 2016, the gaps, issues and suggested solutions.


Grey Yeoh, Head of the Arts and Creative Industries, The British Council. Photo courtesy via Grey Yeoh.



Co-working spaces such as Uppercase, (also housed at APW), and spaces such as Colony, below, are rapidly sprouting across Kuala Lumpur, forming a part of the creative hub community. Photos courtesy and




In Part 2 of the conversation, we speak to Grey about the Regional Forum on Creative Hubs and Cities held in Bangkok under the auspices of the British Council. Part of the aim of the Creative Hubs Report was to identify the gaps and needs of creative hubs, with the next step to gather the creative communities from the region for learning, discourse, solutions and collaboration. Grey expands on creative hubs by sharing the key lessons arising from the forum, and the impact that creative hubs can have.



Creative hubs include commercial entities such as Kilang Bateri in Johor Bahru which provide opportunities to creative startups in search of retail space. Photo courtesy


Many creative hubs do not make it despite having successful runs, as in the case of the Annexe Gallery in Kuala Lumpur, one of the more active and illustrious creative hubs in the city’s history. Photo courtesy Pang Khee Teik.


Akanksha Raja, Assistant Editor, Photo courtesy Akanksha Raja.


Listen to what a participant at the Regional Forum has to say. Akanksha Raja, Assistant Editor of the Singapore-based media platform, ArtsEquator, tells us what creative hubs have to do with the GDP and why KPIs are the hangman of creativity. ALSO SEE: Akanksha’s report on the forum



The Zhongshan Building is home to diverse disciplines of the creative industries from bespoke couturiers to pop-up book specialty stores, a film-lovers’ club, silkscreen artists, a vinyl store, several libraries, and more. Pictured: (Above) Snow Ng (left) and Liza Ho (right), co-owners of OUR Art Projects; (Below) Joshua Fitton of Atelier Fitton, photos by Maya Tan



This story was first published under the now-defunct Think City Channel.

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